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The Middle Men | www.ed-rex.com


The Middle Men

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Torchwood Miracle Day: The Stupid Men

Come on! It's only a flesh-wound!
"Threats didn't work for Vera, but maybe they will for me!"

In case the title hasn't given away my thesis, Torchwood: Miracle Day continues to be driven by characters behaving stupidly, by illogical and inconsistent plotting and backgrounds, and by dramatic set-pieces that do nothing to advance the plot.

But especially by characters behaving stupidly.

It's no secret that among Russell T Davies' weaknesses is a tendency to forego logic and internal consistency for the sake of a big emotional moment or dramatic set-piece, but this series shows so little evidence of planning it feels as if the scripts were still being typed up on shooting day.

How else to explain a program structured as a mystery, but whose clues are just handed to the investigators when the plot demands it? How else to explain the continued lack of security on the part of PhyCorp? How else to explain the normality of life on the streets and in the airports? How else to explain that even the way the Miracle works — are they zombies as at the end of the second episode, or unconscious, unmoving bundles of undying cells only? — is unclear?

And how else to explain the stupid, stupid, STUPID behaviour of our heroes?

Last week saw Vera Juarez threaten the man by whom she was trapped, rather than wait to get out in order to tell her story. Her actions were improbably dumb (especially after she'd been shot the first time), but a generous viewer might forgive it; she was a doctor, not a secret agent.

Pointless Filler:

Notes from he Russell T Davies School of Script Writing

Prior to being captured, Rex attempts an escape. He knocks out a soldier, steals his clothes and tries to brazen his way out of the locked-down Facility.

Asked to identify himself at the gate, our CIA professional is shown to be too dumb to have checked his victim's dog-tags. He doesn't know the man's name.

Rex mumbles, then says he just wants out for a smoke. Ineffective security being a series hallmark, the disembodied voice loses all menace. "Sure man, go ahead."

At which point, Rex walks right into a whole herd of soldiers out for smokes!

Ha ha ha.

But this week, it's Rex who is captured (about which, see sidebar at left). When Carl Maloney explains that he is the Director of the San Pedro Facility, Rex, bound hand and foot, decides he is in a position of strength.

"Look," he says, "just call the police, okay? Go ahead! Call them! Arrest me. Because I wanna make a statement. I'm gonna expose everything that's goin' on here. What you guys are doing to the patients, and what you did to Vera."

Granted Rex doesn't know Carl is directly responsible for Vera's murder, but what kind of secret agent doesn't have a cover story? What kind of agent tells the bad guy in charge, I've got it all on video! Here, take my camera and have a look!

After all these people have been through? Really?

Similarly in Wales, Gwen is still (or yet again?) wandering around a high-security Overflow Camp disguised as an under-employed nurse. She and Rhys finally get Dear Old Dad out of the camp in a stolen truck with the help of a Doctor Patel, whose role is to make the Holocaust parallels absolutely explicit, just in case we haven't picked up on that theme yet.

Gwen send Dear Old Dad off with Rhys, then returns to the camp and happens upon a box or twelve of high explosives (Wait! What?!?) lying about unattended. (Wait! What?!?) She then mines the entire high-security site (Wait! What?!?) and blows it sky high.

Boom! goes the Overflow Camp. Whether she also blows the staff and patients just as high is not revealed; presumably not, but who knows?

Gwen broadcasts the vandalism along with her assertion it was a death camp — Torchwood goes Wikileaks!

Gwen then takes a commercial flight back to the States (in the world according to Russell T Davies, no crisis, no major terrorist attack, nothing will interfere with commercial air travel). She waltzes through customs (again) but as she's heading for the exit, the public address system catches her attention. "Gwen Cooper to the White Courtesy Phone."

What does the highly-trained Torchwood operative, who has just blown up a major British government installation, who is already on the CIA's wanted list ... what does she do?

Why, she takes the call, of course!

Just how stupid are all these people? And just how stupid does Russell T Davies think we must be to take any of this seriously?

Yet it's clear Davies does want Torchwood taken seriously. The references to the Holocaust and the hints that our own corporate and government masters would sell us all down the river in a heartbeat make it all too clear Davies believes our own world is but one crisis away from actual fascism.

Coming only days after much of England was in flames, when the rioters are cavalierly dismissed as thugs and criminals by the privileged and governments muse about cracking down on freedom of speech, Davies' message ought to be especially apt. Pity it is so poorly delivered.

Davies' heart seems to be in the right place, but the brain behind 2009's chillingly credible tale of bureaucratic evil has gone completely AWOL.

With "only" four episodes left to go, it's almost inconceivable anything worthwhile can be salvaged from this mess.

Return to the "Miracle Day" index and overview.

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I'm with you on this one.

I'm with you on this one. The stupid, it burns!

Gwen's still parading everywhere undisguised and unrecognized, not attracting attention in the airport by smooching Rhys-the-chauffeur. She's managed get My-Father-Geraint-Wynn-Cooper-No-Relation-To-Gwen-Cooper-Who-Looks-Exactly-Like-Me out of the camp - pausing to smooch Rhys goodbye not once, not twice, but three times while soldiers are running towards them. Rhys crashes through the fence, in an Army truck, and what? Blends in with traffic? Isn't followed? Gwen then finds time to insert the contacts (do we have to watch her put them in *every* *single* time? Yawn.), put on the leathers and motorcycle she brought (apparated?) into the camp she's surreptitiously "infiltrating", sneaking into just the right spot to Golly! Gee! Gosh! "discover" oocoodles of C4, cord, and detonators (because you can never have enough explosives in an internment camp built on flat terrain) which she can use with her Super!Spy!Skilz! of detonation expert and motorcycliste par excellence (both of which she learned when?) and *no one* at camp saw her sneaking around any buildings in her leathers and thought anything of it, *after observing someone who remained in the camp after smooching a driver who then crashed through the fence*. Gah!

Re the airport courtesy phone (while she was travelling "disguised but not - again") the BigBad wanted her to go put on her contacts (so we could watch - again) so they could communicate with her, apparently because they wanted to see her put the contacts in - again - because communicating on the phone wasn't communicating?

Rex and Esther...well, at least I'll give Esther points for having listened in her Self-Defense-for-the-Nitwit class. Too bad this wasn't the pantomime, so we could have yelled "Behind you!" at her when she went for the keys (which we knew Colin had in his pocket how? Did he jingle them in front of Rex as he practiced his penwork?) And Jack. *What* was the purpose of the pat-the-waiter-bum scene? Yeah, added tons to the scene. Uh-huh.

At least the ep started in a somewhat interesting manner, with Ernie and Shanghai!Guy. If the show had been about them, it would have been more interesting that what we've gotten so far. Bye-bye, Shanghai!Guy! (I'm now waiting for Ernie to join him. Clearly Ernie was hiding his affair with Shanghai!Guy from his wife and soon-to-be-former-secretary. What? It makes as much sense as anything else in MD.)

"Just how stupid are all these people? And just how stupid does Russell T Davies think we must be to take any of this seriously?" Apparently "pritty dam stoopid", in addition to having soup for brainz...I'm getting close to developing a concussion from all the *headdesk*-ing I've been doing.

Thank you!

Holy moly, but your second paragraph made for a compelling (and very funny) distillation of the case.

It's really remarkably bad, isn't it? Since I've promised to keep doing this, I'm toying with the idea of trying to tackle Davies' "ideas" in some kind of serious and maybe even respectful manner but ...

But yeah: concussion.

I'm sorry, but the hallmark

I'm sorry, but the hallmark of COE was Torchwood acting stupidly and very OOC. If Torchwood had been left out of it, it would have been a brilliant commentary on the failure of government, but RTD couldn't sell it without the Torchwood name. So he gutted the characters to fit in with his new project, and now he has changed them even more. This is a badly written, poorly thought-out story that uses Torchwood in name only. RTD is a hack.

Yes and no

... the hallmark of COE was Torchwood acting stupidly and very OOC.

Acting stupidly yes, but not this stupidly. And not nearly so out of chracter, I don't think. In the first two series, at least, one had the sense the characters were experiencing their mistakes and (often) learning from them.

Mind you, there were some episodes that were made of stupid, but I don't think it was a defining characteristic.

Except Gwen. Gwen never

Except Gwen. Gwen never seemed to learn anything. I agree, some of the plots were stupid, but the show didn't take itself seriously and seemed to be in on the joke at times. The characters were what made the show, and then...no more characters except for broken and devastated Jack, and teflon Gwen. It had such potential as a campy, fun, almost tongue-in-cheek scifi show, and then what? COE wasn't Torchwood, it just had some of the characters from Torchwood in it. MD isn't even in the same category of fail as that was, but has fallen to new depths of 'OMG, what was Starz thinking?' fail.

Not sure ...

Gwen never seemed to learn anything.

I've been re-watching Series one recently, but not enough yet to remember whether I agree with you on that (I'd forgotten that she went so far with Owen as to spend the night with him!).

...didn't take itself seriously and seemed to be in on the joke at times.

Yes, for better and for worse, it was still obviously set in the Doctor Who universe, which can only support so much "realism" before it collapses under its own weight.

I did like COE quite a lot, even if it put my statement above to a considerable test; I even happily accept it as "Torchwood".

But then again, I unhappily accept the current travesty as (very bad) "Torchwood" as well.

But I'm unlikely to watch another series, if they get it together to make one.

I own the Season 1 and 2

I own the Season 1 and 2 disks, and I also have them in my Netflix queue, but I've been putting off a rewatch. Maybe it's time. I miss Ianto, anyway, but he does live in fan fiction, thank goodness.

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