5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
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MIRACLE DAY: THE BLOOD LINE
In contrast to our behaviour in everyday life, we normally tend to refrain from swearing here. After all, there may be ladies present. (For the avoidance of doubt: this does not include us.) However, we feel that there is one word and one word alone that most closely conveys our reaction to the finale of Miracle Day.
The Blood Line is a hideous, dreadful, chaotic, talky, dull, pointless pile of ordure. If you’re looking for the kind of thoughtful analysis only gained by careful rewatching, you won’t find it here. As one of us said, “I’d rather be employed as a dogshit shoveller for a year than watch that again.”
We’re actually furious. Furious that they dropped all that crap on us, then had the gall to trail more of the same for another season. More Three Families? When that’s been completely opaque and tedious all season? Um, no thanks. As for bringing back the revoltingly cocky Rex when the hope of his death has been keeping us going all season, let alone giving him regenerative powers like Jack’s, we can scarcely take it in. People like Jack because he’s immortal, right? So let’s make more people immortal and maybe then people will like them too! Maybe they won’t even notice the creative bankruptcy! On the other hand, we can see the logic of their thinking. It will indeed take a miracle to make people like this show.
Which part do we hate the most? So much to choose from. A strong contender has to be the sheer dumbness. Like Frances Farmer explaining to Jilly three times in a row about how the average lifespan thing works - and it’s still a pile of compost. Mean global lifespan calculated to the day for a period centuries ago? Ridiculous. As one of us said disapprovingly, “I do not believe that they have reliable statistics of that nature”. (What? Statistics is Serius Bizness.)
Even stupider is the CIA stuff. The inimitable John de Lancie, gamely struggling to make something of an unpromising script (and succeeding: he can be saying crap like “This operation is active in Buenos Aires” and still be the most interesting thing on the screen), sets up a tracing operation to find the mole in the office in the middle of the office. Just in case that’s not enough to alert the mole, the guy doing the trace helpfully explains what he’s doing. If the CIA really are this dumb, God help us all.
But the undisputed crown for rampant idiocy has to go to the giant infodump about how the Blessing works and what they plan to do about it. The villains explain it all to the heroes. Not to be outdone, the heroes explain back what they plan to do about it. On and on and on it goes, until we were ready to scream. And despite all the endless talkifying, it doesn’t make a pixel of sense. They had to wait until computers caught up enough to work out what the Blessing’s relationship to the death statistics was, right? So what was the big plan when the families got together in the twenties about? And how did they know Jack’s blood was important?
Don't forget the big reveal. Wow, what a thrill ride. May we summarise? Episode Two: Jack theorises it's a morphic field. Episode Ten: yep, it's a morphic field. The end. Yes, really, the end. A fecking great hole through the middle of the earth, defying most of the laws of physics, and there's no explanation at all, other than it's not aliens. It's just there. How stupid, not to mention random and boring, is that?
And in the middle of it all, Oswald Danes. Bill Pullman dials it down in this one, thankfully, but it makes no difference. Can someone please explain to us what the fuck this character was ever doing in the story? Pointless at the beginning, pointless in the middle, and oh so pointless at the end. We couldn’t stop laughing at the dramatic reveal that in the middle of a place lavishly wired with explosives, Danes had… more explosives. What were we saying about creative bankruptcy?
And next to Oswald Danes, there’s Jilly. We’ve always enjoyed Lauren Ambrose’s performance, but what, exactly, is the point of her character? She’s a bystander from beginning to end.
And this is Torchwood, so they have to kill off a team member. The cast of Blakes 7 once said what difficulty they had in trying to come up with a reaction to the death of the bland and featureless Gan. "Oh, really? How very, er…" We know exactly how they felt. Homer Simpson's more three-dimensional than Esther, so putting her character out of its misery leaves us utterly indifferent. Our true, wrenching sorrow is that they didn’t kill all of them.
Last episode, we wondered how they were going to wrap up the far-reaching societal issues they’ve been plugging away at all season. Answer: they don’t. Forget that stuff. This is the finale. It’s all guns and explosions and people giving orders to kill which are conveniently ignored until the parties involved have finished yapping. (Worried about being sentenced to die by firing squad? Don’t sweat it. Apparently, all it takes for those guys to ignore their orders is for the victim to hold up his hand and yell “Wait!”.) Death camps? Government-mandated murder? Drug-company ascendancy? Economic chaos? Forget ‘em, they’re old news. Concentrate instead on this big, shiny reset button.
At the end, Rex asks Gwen and Jack if they’re reuniting as Torchwood. We were screaming “Say no! Say no!” The thought of more of this, especially with an immortal Rex, is too much to bear. We’re crossing our fingers that the sheer ineptness of Miracle Day has finally killed Torchwood off for good.
Rex is “at the limit” after seeing a drop of blood moving. That’s his limit? He’d better hope he never sees a Slitheen.
CIA WORLD FACT BOOK
We couldn’t get out without having one last splash of xenophobia, could we? If it’s not bribing the Chinese, it’s Buenos Aires and its “backward” economy. Considering the current state of the US economy, that’s pretty rich. The Buenos Aires economy, incidentally, is low in debt and devotes almost a quarter of its expenditure to healthcare and another quarter to education. Who’s the backward one now?
THE MYSTICAL EAST
Since some of us have been to Shanghai, we can confirm that it is in fact an extremely modern city where you can go shopping with no discernable risk of wading through chickens. We can also confirm that Mandarin speakers do not actually magically start speaking English if only you talk to them long enough.
DEAD FROM THE NECK UP
Jack and Gwen break the necks of the security guards, who then stay down. What about Plane Woman who was happily strolling round with a broken neck?
TELL HIM I SAID HI
So there’s no plan to rescue Gwen’s Dad this time, just a determination to say goodbye. If that’s the case and there’s only one police visa, why the hell doesn’t his wife go instead of his son-in-law?
It’s always good to see PC Andy (who we should really be calling Sergeant Andy), but why did they dub in his line “But they’re still alive, and you’re going to burn them?”? He knows they are. We all do. We did all that weeks ago.
Our ace correspondent Megan points out that after forcing the audience to undergo a gruelling ten weeks only to end up staring up a giant pink anus, Russell T Davies must surely be mocking us. And we see her point.