Spoilers ahead for Torchwood: Miracle Day's second episode, "Rendition."
It's fair to say that Torchwood: Miracle Day dialed things down a bit in its follow-up to last week's explosive season premiere. Still, I think the series is the kind of thing that you're either on board with or not into. As I said last week, the first episode of Miracle Day introduced a great concept (What if no one died... ever?) that tickled our intellect but didn't ramrod our brains with heavy science. Complementing that concept were over-the-top action (spinning helicopters! RPGs! People jumping out of exploding buildings!) and a pulse-pounding pace that made the experience feel more like a summer blockbuster than another Starz show soaked in blood and bouncing boobs.
But what happens when a lot of that action goes away? "Rendition" happens, that's what. A lot slower than "A New World," "Rendition" made the
mistake odd decision to strap Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper in airplane seats for about 50 minutes, effectively deflating the balloon that carried the premiere to such lofty heights. I could have done without the poisoning Captain Jack plot, because I always can do without any plot that involves putting a show's main character in danger of dying. (Spoiler alert: He's not going to die.) Would we have missed that much if we'd seen the plane take off then cut to the plane landing? This smacks of Russell T. Davies and his writing crew stretching things out to 10 episodes. Perhaps that's why Torchwood: Children of Earth, which was only five episodes long, was so dense and able to sustain its pace. Have we already seen a "filler" episode just two episodes into the season?
Though this week's episode sputtered out a bit, you wouldn't know it given the music and active camera cuts. Such audio and visual cues are both a strength and weakness of the series (at least from what I've seen between Children of Earth and Miracle Day). When the intensity of what's actually happening on-screen matches the swelling music and frenetic camerawork, it's awesome. When it's attempting to get us all worked up over the crew pulling apart the intestines of an airplane to locate a substance we know they'll eventually find in order to save the life of a person whose life we know will be saved, it kind of falls on its face.
But even though watching Gwen and Jack on the plane reminded me of flying from Oakland to Burbank, I'm still enjoying Miracle Day for a few reasons. First and foremost, "Rendition" managed to retain the first episode's tone of "f*** it, let's just make this fun." The "I'm not gay" flight attendant was one of those jokes that got funnier as it went along; Rex's hard-headedness, initially maddening, is becoming incredibly entertaining; and you will never ever hear me complain about a leggy woman walking around with her head corkscrewed backwards. Is the whole thing ridiculous? Absolutely. Is it watchable? You bet. Going into Torchwood with the correct mental state—playful is preferred—is a must to get the most out of the show.
Walking into our lives for the first time this week was Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose from Six Feet Under—which is kind of ironic now that no one can die), a bottom-feeding PR firecracker who brightens the screen with a flurry of red. I think her performance is a perfect example of one of Miracle Day's strengths. It's so obvious that all the actors involved with the show are having fun making it, and that joy infects me when I watch.
There has been plenty of criticism against the show and I think I may be going a bit easy on Torchwood: Miracle Day, but that's a testament to its characters. As long as the show features Captain Jack and Gwen (even though she cries every episode), I'm going to tune in.
Question: How are you feeling about Miracle Day know that we're two episodes in?
... I loved Gwen's reaction (pictured, above) to seeing Lyn walking around with her head turned backwards. Just an "oh boy, here we go again" with her eyes.
... I liked this exchange:
Gwen: "Why should we go anywhere with you?"
Rex: "Because I have a car."
Why does that crack me up so much?
... I noticed a curious thing while trolling around the Torchwood pages on our site. Miracle Day's first episode earned an 8.9 rating from users on the Torchwood: Miracle Day page, and because we have a duplicate for some reason, an 8.2 rating on the Torchwood page. That leads me to believe that longtime Torchwood fans aren't liking the show as much as Torchwood virgins, which is to be expected. So: Longtime fans, how do you feel about Miracle Day two episodes in? Let us know in the comments, please!
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom