Friday, August 19, 2011

Ten Statements About....TORCHWOOD: MIRACLE DAY Episode Six 'The Middle Men' (2011)

Ladies and gentlemen...the only actor who actually tries to
act well in this misbegotten story....
"If schemes and conspiracies are being plotted,they must be seen only as patterns, waves. Shifts that are either too small or too vast to be perceived. Someone is playing the system right across the planet with infinite grace."

1) Okay, that pre-credit teaser may have been the best moment in this wretched series to date...and notice that there wasn't any of our regular characters involved in it, just Ernie Hudson on the phone to some guy. Yes, there's the usual icky Russell T. Davies 'Everyone-Must-Have-Sex' aesthetic for a second...but the rest of it is reminiscent of some of the better X-Files teasers of their heyday.

...which is the first evidence that someone other than Davies (namely writer John Shiban) had a hand in this episode.

2) You know, I get that stuff like Rex finally admitting he's Torchwood is supposed to get us cheering and on his side and all that...but when you spend the last five episodes of your show setting him up as a nationalistic Ugly American Douche, you haven't earned the right to manipulate us like that.

3) Yep, just as I figured out last episode....this is a gigantic Holocaust/Concentration Camp metaphor. Now all I have to wait for is the inevitable shot of the Space Cannibals/Vampires/Whatever in the Nazi-esque uniforms sprinkling cremains on their Post Toasties, and the bad taste in my mouth will be complete.

4) In a season known for hiring bad actors, and for eliciting bad performances from great actors, the performance of Mark Vann may very well be the absolute worse. I don't know if Russell T. Davies told him to play the role as The World's Evilest James Carville Impersonator or not, but he is thoroughly dreadful and couldn't convincingly cover up that he forgot to pick up the dry-cleaning, let alone murdering and cremating one of the major characters of the first five episodes.

You call it a gratuitious shot of someone pushing a pen into
a splattery make-up effect; I call it a graphic representation of
exactly how watching this crap feels.
5) I have always been sympathetic toward Gwen Cooper for the bulk of this series--primarily because Eve Myles is an amazingly good actress, and also because the chemistry between her and Kai 'The Jason Segal of Wales' Owens is so supremely good it sheds light into an otherwise dour series...but the scene where she harasses Dr. Patel simply loses all that goodwill. Part of it is because Myles has the unenviable task of spelling out the Concentration Camp Metaphor in Big Gaily Colored Building Block Letters so even people in a coma can get it, but mainly its because she's taking on this Holier-Than-Thou attitude that the show has not earned. Hell, quite frankly Rex's actions are doing much more good in this episode than hers are.

6) Wow...if you want to get someone to help you, mocking you about the affair you're having with your boss and your prowess at your job after proving you've done your stalker homework is not a good strategy, Jack.

...and of course it works...because, as we've mentioned before, Russell T. Davies has no conception of how human beings actually interact.

7) God Help Us, Ernie Hudson didn't get the memo to overact and play his character in only the broadest strokes. He's trying to give us an honest-to-goodness decent performance! And the scene with his Stuart Owens having a sit down to talk conspiracies is perhaps the single best scene in this season so far.

For those keeping count, that's two good moments in an episode...both of them involving Ernie Hudson. Coincidence? You decide.

8) Our heroes are real, real crap liars. I don't think any of the characters in this episode--not Rex, not Esther, not Rhys--are effectively deceptive on any level. At least give Rhys points for trying to sass his way through....

9) So Esther is like, what, a MMA fighter able to triangle choke Evil James Carville to...well, not death, since we know what happened to Dichen Lachman and her extreme neck trauma in Episode Two...sorry, don't buy it. And Evil James Carville going all Jason on her is perhaps the most expected shock revival of all time.

Yeah, I'd hide my face if I appeared in
this episode, too.

10) WAIT! We get this whole self-righteous speech from Gwen earlier about how they're killing people in these Overflow Camps and that poor doctor should be ashamed of herself for allowing it to happen--and then she turns around and BLOWS UP THE CAMPS? WITH EVERYONE INSIDE, SICK PEOPLE SHE WAS DEFENDING INCLUDED? WHILE JACK LAUGHS IN ENCOURAGEMENT?

I...I am speechless. I cannot imagine what Davies expected our reaction to be....did he think we'd not realize that one of our main characters is as big a murderer as the villains are?

Overall...I cannot believe how miserably bad this show is. Even for something produced by Davies, this is stunning in its awfulness. The only thing--the only thing--that eve vaguely redeems it are those two scenes with Ernie Hudson. His nuanced performance actually kept me from punching a hole through the laptop screen.

If you're defending this program, or giving it a pass due to your love of Davies' run on Doctor Who...well, shame on you.

1 comment:

  1. I said before, and I shall say it again, I pretty much knew Russel T had lost it after I watched End of Time. My suspciousions were confirmed after Sarah Jane Episode "Death of the Doctor" (thank God he only wrote that one episode for Sarah Jane). You say that Ernie Hudson was the saving grace of this show, I'm beginning to suspect that Christopher Eccelson also did not get the memo to overact or chew the scenerary on Doctor Who. Russel T Davis the George Lucas of the Doctor Who universe.