'Torch' Carries On

Publish date:

Torchwood: Miracle Day does the impossible, or at least difficult.

It takes a hit U.K. series and neither remakes it with Americans nor keeps it the same for U.S. consumption. (It premieres Friday, tomorrow, on Starz at 10 p.m.)

Instead it takes the U.K. stars and grafts Americans into the cast, shifts the setting to the United States, and retains a winning combination of action, pyrotechnics, stress-relieving (for the characters) sex, humor and global peril.

The underlying premise, the “miracle,” is that people stop dying. Including condemned killer Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman), who’s the first to demonstrate the new human condition when his lethal injection leaves him shaken but alive. Health policy issues arise, including how to handle the people who should be dead but aren’t, and how to fairly distribute the pain medication so many people need.

Some kind of global conspiracy is at work, and the only ones really capable of solving the mystery are the remaining members of Torchwood, the British intervention agency. Meaning Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles).

They add two CIA operatives to their mix on this side of the Atlantic: field agent Rex Chapman (ER’s Mekhi Phifer) and analyst Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins). Pullman, who becomes a spokesman for the drug company PhiCorp (a malevolent presence); Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), as an ambitious P.R. rep for PhiCorp; and Arlene Tur as Dr. Vera Juarez, an activist physician helping Chapman and Torchwood, round out the core cast for the 10-episode series.

Creator Russell T Davies (who famously deemed Eve Myles “Wales’s best-kept secret”), BBC Worldwide Productions executive producers Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, and Starz have perfected the cross-Atlantic merger with Miracle Day.

For an interview with the effusive Myles and Havins my colleague Tom Umstead did at The Cable Show in Chicago, look higher on our homepage or click here. Myles made a big impression on a New York City audience ahead of the last Torchwood, the chilly 5-night epic Children of Earth, in 2009, and you can revisit that energy here.

By the way, if you were like Multichannel News contributor Larry Jaffe and spotted a tear-masked procession down Fifth Avenue today (see photo), it was a re-enactment of the sorrowful undead from Miracle Day.