Friday, October 21, 2011

REVIEW: Torchwood Miracle Day boxset



Release Date: Nov 14

RRP: £30.63/35.73 DVD/Bluray

Discs: 4

Extras:
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STORY
It's seems a bit odd reviewing Miracle Day again as I've spent ten weeks already doing so, and thoroughly in the process I might add, so I have simply included links to my reviews of each episode below. I will say, as a final note, that the television landscape, in the UK anyway, is brightened ten~fold by a show like Torchwood. I'll also add, for those curious, that some of the episodes included here are the, *coughs*, "naughty" versions...


There's nothing else quite like it. Tonally it jumps from death to laughs, from love to porn, from dull CIA characters to a huge gaping vaginal~like~crevasse in the world. Unique. The finale was certainly something: Oswald Danes screaming his paedophilic fantasies as he bombs to his death; beautiful Jilly and Gwen's tantalisingly erotic bitch~fest; and THAT hole (not to mention Rex's own miracle) all made for a fascinating end.

Sure, it may have been a little stretched and some actors were certainly not as engaging as others (Alexa Havins and Arlene Tur), whilst others could have been given more screen time (Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson and Star Trek's John de Lancie) and certain plot elements seemed to disappear, like The Soulless. But, for me, Torchwood: Miracle Day was remarkable. Not to be taken too seriously (how can you, it's got John Barrowman in it!) but to be simply entertained by and enjoyed. Which I did, immensely.

Here are links to my reviews of all ten episodes:


EXTRAS
This is a bad bunch. Not only bad, but excruciatingly annoying too. Each episode comes with a one minute introduction from John Barrowman and Russell T Davies where both men describe what's coming up. Why? Seriously, why, on a DVD you've bought and are going to watch (presumably) do you need an intro featuring the plea, "Please watch this episode!"??? Bearing in mind, too, that most people who own this will probably have watched most of the episodes anyway.

Do we need a synopsis for a story we've seen or are about to watch? No. Even more annoying is Barrowman's Tonight's The Night style delivery - "Oswald Danes, the man you LOOOVE to hate!" he chimes like a cheap circus barker. But most irritating of all is the fact that these intros are at the start of each episode and you can't just press play and dive into the stories. What were the makers of this DVD thinking?

Well, judging by the rest of the content, it surely was not the fans.

There's ten minutes worth of "character profiles" that barely settle on one character long enough to find out anything about the role (and given how many characters there are, it's a laughably short time to explore them). Only some of the main players are present but more time should have been given over to interviews, letting the writers and actors talk more fully about their creations.

Similarly the two episodes of Torchwood Declassified are nothing but fluff pieces. The first looks at the FX of Miracle Day and, as you may have guessed, features guys in front of their computers explaining how they make the magic happen. Click~click~yawn. The second is a more substantial behind~the~scenes feature but spends a lot of its time (like the first installment) trying to sell the show to the viewer, with cast and crew bashing out superlatives - as if we haven't already seen it or, indeed, bought the bloody box set!

An absolute waste of time and an ill~thought exercise. There are also omissions in terms of contributions from writers (no Jane Espenson, for instance) and cast (no Lauren Ambrose). If you're looking for insight and production comment, then these extras will leave you wanting, though, thankfully, the commentaries re~address this. Accompanying episodes one and ten are audio commentaries from Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner, and what a pair they make.


These two gems outshine everything that has come before and reveal much more about Torchwood than anything else contained here. It's a fascinating listen as Davies reveals that episode eight was "not our finest hour", lamenting production issues. It's a lively conversation with honest debate and much humour, as you would expect, throughout. Unmissable. You can read more about what Russell T Davies says in the audio commentaries HERE.

Filling out the extras are over seven minutes of deleted scenes (though half of it simply features Esther trying to park her car at an airport) and the full 30 minute motion comic, Web of Lies. Both features are unremarkable but, as reference material, it's appropriate that they're included. Disappointingly, there are no trailers or TV spots for those who like their DVD VAMs to be complete.

It's a wildly frustrating and poor collection of extras that don't befit the ten episodes. A proper documentary should have been produced, featuring everyone and giving all the players time to talk. Being made so close to production doesn't help either as there's no time for reflection (which makes the audio commentaries all the better as they were recorded as the show began to air). Makes me glad we have so many great people working on the classic Doctor Who range of DVDs. It's rare that the extras actually drag down a release but they've managed it here, otherwise the rating below would have been higher.

BLOGTOR RATING 7/10

Thanks to 2|entertain

2 comments:

John Doyle said...

Alas, "wildly frustrating and poor" suggests the extras are in fact a perfect match for the episodes.

Arthur said...

Torchwood should have ended after Children of Earth - which was a well-written, dramatic miniseries that I actually got involved in. Children of Earth actually felt like an ending - Gwen was left to start her family with Rhys, and Jack was freed from earth when he had nothing (Ianto) to make him stay. It wouldn't have been a happy ending, but it would have been an ending and as far as I'm concerned, it was the end of Torchwood.

Miracle Day was just bad, apart from one or two scenes for the entire series. But in my opinion, they killed the show when they killed Ianto - it doesn't feel like Torchwood without him. I didn't care about the new characters, Jack was barely in the show, and there was too little Wales. It just felt like a bad American action show that happened to have Jack and Gwen.

I've not met a person who liked Miracle Day. It was too different and lacking all the charm that made me fall in love with Torchwood 1-3 in the first place.