'Torchwood' Creator Russell T Davies Talks about the Show's 'Miracle' Season (VIDEO)
A couple of years ago, the sci-fi-flavored show, which follows a secretive team that battles threats to Earth, abandoned the monster-of-the-week structure that it had used in its first two seasons. In 2008's 'Torchwood: Children of Earth,' creator Russell T Davies abandoned that format to tell a morally complicated story that spanned five tightly linked episodes.
'Children of Earth' was a critical and commercial success in both the U.S. and U.K., and Davies said in a recent interview in Los Angeles that using a highly serialized format had been a creative breakthrough for 'Torchwood,' which had begun life as a 'Doctor Who' spinoff.
In the 'Torchwood's' first two seasons, which featured mostly standalone episodes and an array of one-off villains, "we were always upstaging ourselves by the fact that 'Doctor Who,' [which Davies had revived in 2005] did that on a much bigger scale, and that's why 'Torchwood' struggled sometimes."
"I loved those first two years, but when I hit on the idea of 'Children of the Earth,' when I said, 'Let's not do weekly story, let's do one long story,' it sort of came of age for me in my head, and I discovered the potential to go anywhere and do anything, and then I thought this [show] could run and run and run," Davies said.
Davies loves shows like 'Lost' and 'Fringe' and 'Supernatural' -- in fact, he expressed concern during the interview, which took place last Friday, that he might miss an episode of 'Fringe' (he was relieved to learn that the Fox show doesn't return until Jan. 21). But now that 'Torchwood' has found its own distinct approach to telling stories, it has something that sets it apart from other sci-fi-flavored fare.
"I think ['Torchwood'] finds something absolutely unique by saying, well, all this show does is take a concept, a high concept, and drop that into Western society, like a great stone going into a lake," Davies said. "The story is about the ripples. It's about how we react.. ... It's not about a fleet of spaceships anymore, even though I love those sort of shows, I love them to death. ...It's not a monster, it's not a glowing cube, it's not even a laser beam, it's a concept -- plunk -- right into the middle of society, and then you just watch how we change."
Though the drama is sticking with that format -- call it the mega-miniseries -- there are several other changes ahead for 'Torchwood,' which used to air on BBC America. Season 4 of the show obviously won't be called 'The New World' (that was a fakeout title announced a few months ago), and it will air on a new channel, Starz, probably in July. There's been a change of location as well: 'Miracle Day' begins shooting in Los Angeles on Monday. The story, which will have an international flavor and have the characters traveling to various countries, will be filmed mostly in the U.S., though a two-week shoot in Wales is also planned.
As Davies explains in the video accompanying this post (which is not spoilery), the new season is not the complete "reboot" of the franchise that some fans had feared.
But those who've never watched 'Torchwood' should be able to plunge in with 'Miracle Day,' he added.
"The serial format if fascinating because I believe... you should be able to join in episode 3 or episode 4 or 5 and still follow what's going on," Davies said. "So we just had to be very careful with it and make sure you keep parceling up information and make sure your faithful viewer doesn't feel bored while there's an endless repetition of what events are."
Like 'Children of Earth,' 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' is driven by a concept that will be unveiled in the season's opening minutes. Read on for more detailed information about the new season of 'Miracle Day.' If you'd rather not know plot specifics, check out here.
The miraculous event that the title refers to is the end of death. One day, people on Earth stop dying. Even a Death Row prisoner named Oswald, who is played by Bill Pullman, lives, despite getting the full array of lethal injections. The fact that people stop dying soon presents a huge problem, given that the planet soon begins to get even more overcrowded, and the miracle turns into a nightmare.
For Captain Jack Harkness, who is played by John Barrowman, the story has special resonance.
"Of course, Captain Jack is an immortal, and what we are talking about is the world turns immortal. So there's an awful lot of story packed into that," Davies said at a press event for the show on Friday.
Eve Myles will once again play Gwen Cooper, who is now the mother of a small child (her husband, Rhys, who's played by Kai Owen, will also appear in 'Miracle Day'). Gwen misses the excitement she used to have when she worked with Jack, and she soon meets Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer), a CIA agent who begins uncovering information about the disbanded 'Torchwood' team.
Other 'Miracle Day' cast members include Dichen Lachman, Arlene Tur and Alexa Havins. Writers for the show include Davies, Jane Espenson ('Buffy,' 'Battlestar Galactica'), Doris Egan ('House') and John Shiban ('Breaking Bad,' 'Supernatural').
Check back here soon for more from 'Torchwood' star Eve Myles.
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