As one of a privileged few to have enjoyed the BFI’s preview screening of Episode One of Torchwood: Miracle Day on London’s South Bank on Monday evening, I’m pleased to be able to report an overwhelmingly positive response, both personally and from the packed auditorium.
The event comprised a screening of the episode plus a fairly extensive preview of the rest of the series, followed by a lively Q&A session featuring Russell T Davies, John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Bill Pullman, all of who were on fine form. This session was hosted by journalist James Rampton and included some questions from the audience.
It is probably important to reassure fans that Miracle Day is still eminently recognisable as Torchwood right from its opening scenes, with the series’ tone and sense of humour all intact. The full range of emotions — from the dark and visceral to the playful and sexually charged — that sum to make Torchwood what it is are all in evidence. Bill Pullman went on to cite this range as well as the humanity and truthfulness within the writing as the reason he snapped up his role within two days of receiving the script. Gwen and Rhys have some great character moments as ever — including one for Gwen in Episode One that had the audience erupt with spontaneous applause — but the new characters more than make their mark too, with Mekhi Phifer’s CIA Agent Rex Matheson getting many of the best lines and hence the biggest laughs from the appreciative fans. The main difference is in the scale of the production, which certainly feels bigger but in a way that very much suits the story Miracle Day is setting out to tell. This is a Torchwood that has evolved yet further from Children of Earth, but whilst it takes a little time to introduce its history for the uninitiated, Davies’ script achieves this with a deft lightness of touch and as an integral part of the story such that Miracle Day never feels like anything but a continuation of what has gone before.
I will of course steer clear of spoilers beyond a mention for the well-documented series premise that people can no longer die, no matter how sick or badly injured they are. It is clear from the opening instalment that a lot of consideration has been given to the effects upon society that such a fundamental change to the human condition would have, and Davies indicated in the Q&A session that the series will explore the concept over a timeline that stretches for ten months. Miracle Day is clearly also set to explore new ground for its lead characters too, with Davies also mentioning that he wrote Episode Seven as a “gift” to John Barrowman and Eve Myles, teasing that it explores what Captain Jack and Gwen truly mean to one another.
Davies also talked of possible futures for the series in terms that implied his potential continued involvement, although this was not addressed directly. For now, though, one thing is certain: Torchwood is better shape than ever and in Miracle Day we are set for our most intense ride yet. I can’t wait.