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"Torchwood: Miracle Day," Episode 1

Episode 1

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  • Starz
  • STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT: Eva Myles (left)

If you miss TV shows with buzz-worthy, water-cooler mysteries like “Lost,” but feel investing your time in a show with a poor payoff (also like “Lost”), “Torchwood: Miracle Day” may be just what The Doctor ordered. Russell T. Davies’ “Doctor Who” spinoff returns with a 10-episode season that transplants the show to the United States and builds the premise around a freaky sci-fi phenomenon with chilling implications give or take a few moments of clunky storytelling.

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Back in the day, Torchwood was a secret, Cardiff-based alien investigation agency in Wales, founded by Queen Victoria in 1879. By the end of the five-episode third season “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” the group broke up when everyone was dead except for canny former cop Gwen Cooper (Eva Myles) and undying, “omnisexual” mystery man, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). The title of “Miracle Day’s” first episode, “The New World,” nods both to the new American setting and the astonishing event that could mean the salvation and destruction of the human race. And it's easy for newcomers to get up to speed.

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“Miracle Day” begins with execution of pedophile/murderer Oswald Danes, whom Bill Pullman plays as a squinting, scowling mouth breather, like Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. The death row guards strap him in and commence with the lethal injection, which proves unexpectedly non-lethal. Oswald suffers a seizure and rips off an armrest, but doesn’t actually die. Do they get a mulligan on that one?



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