This season of the sci-fi drama 'Torchwood' has the feel of an elongated movie; like shows such as '24'. As such, it is not the sort of series which a viewer can dip in and out of. The drawback of this nature of series is that the scope feels restricted. We can no longer face off against various foes from Cybermen to Weevils, nor experience the range of powers previously seen, such as telepathy and memory manipulation.
Having said that, there are some benefits of this style; knowledge of previous seasons of Torchwood is superfluous, as Miracle Day can be completely fulfilling independent of any additional knowledge. Additionally, there is a strong sense of direction, as if the viewer is being taken on a journey, with a very meaningful purpose, a feeling that was relatively absent during the earlier seasons of 'Torchwood'.
Despite literally packing up what is left of Torchwood and flying it over the States. Torchwood retains its familiar feel, largely due to the familiar escapades of Captain Jack, who is as much in his element in America as he was in Cardiff. Of course, there's a rather major difference as post-Miracle Day, every single human on Earth can no longer die. This season pitches the re-formed Torchwood team against Phicorp, who want to take advantage of the situation.
The new prominent cast members all portray their characters very well and convincingly. The most interesting of these characters is Oswald Danes, played by Bill Pullman, who is an ex-death row inmate, released thanks to a legal gap and now seeks to propel himself to prominence with the help of Phicorp. With some skilful script-writing, he will probably become the character to watch in this series, though my fear that he will become a Gaius Baltar (for those 'Battlestar Galactica' fans) figure, which would be disappointing in my opinion.
Another character of interest is Rex Matheson, portrayed by Mekhi Phifer, a CIA agent impaled ('Final Destination' style) and effectively killed in the first episode, only to survive due to the ‘miracle.’ He is clearly set to play a large role in the series, but as of episode 4, has been fairly inconsistent in his identity, often with a constantly changing personality. While this may be an attempt by the character to deal with his death, his impact throughout the rest of the series remains to be seen.
The series delves impressively deeply into the repercussions of Miracle Day, exploring the limits of immortality as well its ethical, medical and philosophical consequences. Where this series shines is in its whole-hearted attempt to embrace the implications of its paradigm shift - it would have been tempting to forego the social and political backdrop in favour of more excessive and melodramatic action-packed series but instead, they have opted for a more subtle approach, which in combination with more Hollywood-style filming and dialogue, makes for a refreshing approach.
In all, 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' promises a relatively original and well thought out plot with the Torchwood team faced with an exciting race to a solution, pitted against those who seek to profit from the world’s problems. All that is left is to hope that the show builds on the sound foundations that the first four episodes have laid and provide and fulfil its promise.
Watch the ongoing 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' series at BBC iPlayer.