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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > British TV > Torchwood: Miracle Day – The Complete Fourth Season (2011/BBC Blu-ray Set)

Torchwood: Miracle Day – The Complete Fourth Season (2011/BBC Blu-ray Set)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A     Episodes: A



Torchwood and its ‘dreamy’ leader Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) went away for a while. After the gut-wrenching conclusion of the Torchwood: Children of Earth mini-series Captain Jack had to go away.  He left Earth and was seen but once (and briefly) at the end of David Tenant’s brilliant run on sister show Doctor Who.  Executive producers Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner have a thing for Torchwood; it’s always been a darker cousin to the more child-friendly Doctor Who, and its unique mix of high drama and higher body count always leave fans wondering who among their favorite characters might die next.


Quick recap: Torchwood was formed by Queen Victoria after a not so pleasant encounter with the Doctor in the 19th century.  Its remit: use the alien to kill the alien.  So over the years they’ve labored secretly to secure master captured alien technologies.  Who better to lead them than the ultimate, unkillable alien--Captain Jack.  After exposure to the powerful chronal energies of the TARDIS (the Doctor’s “magic” blue police box), Jack Harkness became immortal.  He could heal from any injury, and seemingly return from the dead. And he never grows old.  As sexually adventurous as he is insatiable, Mr. Harkness is equally adroit with both sexes. 


He made quite a first impression on police woman Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), and she did the same to him, and so she joined the team and survived through two full seasons and Children of Earth--no mean feat.  But this new installment in the Torchwood storyline brings Harkness and Cooper back together while transporting them to America. On “Miracle Day” everyone stopped dying.  This seeming blessing carried a terrible price, because while the grievously injured or sick stopped dying, they did not get better!  Jack quickly finds that just the opposite is true in his case--his vaunted immortality and indestructibility are gone. In a fitting twist, he becomes the only man on the planet who can die.


Torchwood gets some new members for this case, and these folks come from the USA.  They include Special Agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), information analyst Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins), and Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur).  BBC’s partnership with U.S. cable network STARZ insured that the new team would have some American membership, and the casting choices made were excellent.  Phifer’s Agent Matheson speaks and moves with the desperation of a man who knows he’s working with borrowed time.  One of the people “saved” on Miracle Day, Matheson quickly senses that Torchwood can unravel this mystery.  He’s the straw that stirs this drink, and the amazing Alexa Havins manages to be both bookish and sexy all in the same moment. 


Bill Pullman puts in an inspired performance as convicted child killer Oswald Danes, a man who survives his lethal injection on Miracle Day.  He forms a cult of personality and power around this experience and soon finds himself at the epicenter of the mystery.  Veteran Seinfeld actor Wayne Knight turns plays a fiendishly good government baddy in Brian Friedkin.


Plentiful extras take you behind the scenes of the making of these episodes.  Audio commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, and a motion comic all measure up to BBC’s usual high standards for extra content.


For anyone who didn’t think it could get rougher than Children of Earth was for Torchwood, Miracle Day ups the ante.  This four-disc set delivers gritty, modern sci-fi action with an adult edge, and asks hard questions about the nature of death and dying.  All that and Captain Jack is back!  What could be better?



-   Scott Pyle


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