Torchwood begins again with Miracle Day, a season long exploration of the consequences when death abandons the human race. If the first episode is any indication, this may be the best non-print SF of the year.

Title: “The New World”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Bharat Nalluri
Written by Russel T. Davis

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper
Mekhi Phifer as Rex Matheson
Bill Pullman as Oswald Danes
Lauren Ambrose as Jilly Kitzinger
Kai Owen as Rhys Williams
Alexa Havins as Esther Drummond
Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez

Additional cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

Humans stop dying, Jack Harkness stops instantly healing, and someone targets the remnants of Torchwood. As the world deals with the consequences of “Miracle Day,” Captain Jack and Gwen Cooper team up with American CIA agents to uncover the truth.

High Point

1. The script has as close to perfect pacing as I’ve seen in recent television. We have time to establish characters, but we also get enough action and general weirdness to understand what Torchwood is about.

2. We have SF based on an idea. Miracle Day grows from a strong premise, exploring both the global implications while developing Torchwood‘s specific story.

3. As a bonus, the first episode has a clever title.

Low Points

1. I know he’s about to become a major plot point, but I have a difficult time accepting Oswald Dane’s release from prison. Even with major changes to the ways of the world, the broken rope precedent should hold.

2. I’ll give them a lot of leeway because I really enjoyed this episode and I know they have to cut loose at times—but the escape from the explosion played a little too much like bad action movie cliché.

3. Any other complaints could be invalidated by future developments; we’ve only seen the beginning. I did wonder about the lack of a specifically religious response to Miracle Day. They’re calling it “Miracle Day,” for heaven’s sake. It defies known science. We know that Harkness and Cooper would look to explanations extraterrestrial in origin, but shouldn’t we be seeing religious explanations offered at every turn, especially in America?

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Many others have played with the idea of Death taking a Holiday before. I first encountered the premise in a Gold Key horror comic, and even Supernatural gave this one a spin. This looks to be the most developed and disturbing handling of the premise, however, and certainly represents a new direction for Torchwood.

Of course, when Torchwood meets the CIA, the script places us in familiar mismatched heroes territory.

Effects: 6/6 Well done and, in places, disturbing. The internationally-produced Torchwood has a budget.

Story: 5/6 We’re off to a gripping and effectively-paced start. The ending came before I realized how much time had passed. I wonder, though, if anyone would fail to realize how disastrous this will become in a short time. Rhys isn’t that thick.

Acting: 5/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6. I have always watched the show here and there. This season, it joins a very short list of shows I won’t be missing.

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 6/6

In total, “The New World” receives 35/42