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Exclusive First Look: Captain Jack's 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' Makeover

by Maureen Ryan, posted May 25th 2011 11:00AM
When the new season of 'Torchwood' arrives on Starz July 8, Captain Jack Harkness will be sporting a new look.

Not only was most of the sci-fi show's new season filmed in the United States rather than the U.K., other aspects of the drama got a makeover as well.

Creator Russell T Davies commissioned the show's costume designer, Shawna Trpcic (a veteran of 'Dollhouse,' 'Firefly' and 'Angel') to make a new version of Jack's iconic coat. We've exclusively got the first photo of Jack in the new season of 'Torchwood,' wearing his new and improved greatcoat.

Part of the reason Trpcic redesigned the coat and had it custom-made made by Italian tailors before production on the new season got underway: Los Angeles, where much 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' was shot earlier this year, is much warmer than Wales, which is where previous seasons of the show were filmed. The heavier versions of the greatcoat that actor John Barrowman wore in other seasons were just too much, in a variety of ways.

"The coat from England was actually made out of a cotton, rather than a wool. And it also fit him quite broadly off the shoulder, and I just wanted to modernize it, give it a more modern fit, but leave the drape and keep it cape-like," Trpcic said in an interview on the show's set in February.

"I brought in the shoulders about two inches, so they'd be actually on his shoulders, and I brought in the waist almost 24 inches. He's lost weight, but the other coat was quite billowy and I'm sure that was to cover layers of warmth, because it was a lot colder in Wales. I got a cashmere-blend wool, and it's a very, very fine [material], so he would be OK in the heat and the L.A. sunshine."

The cashmere blend not only breathes well, it gives the coat the kind of movement and swagger that Jack brings with him on every adventure.

There were other fashion challenges as well, Trpcic said: She said she enjoyed "redefining [Jack's fellow 'Torchwood' alient-fighter] Gwen and making her just a little bit sexier and playing with her femininity a little bit." Lauren Ambrose, who plays a P.R. executive named Jilly, was fun to dress "because she's high-fashion."

Still, Jack's military-inspired greatcoat is an iconic piece of sci-fi couture. Was Trpcic nervous at all about revamping Captain Jack's famous jacket?

"Well, I worked on 'Firefly,' so I'm kind of used to iconic captain's coats and the importance of staying loyal to what the fans expect and to what we need," she said.

Here's a recently released trailer for the new season of 'Torchwood,' which stars Barrowman, Ambrose, Eve Myles, Kai Owen, Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman, Alexa Havins, Arlene Tur, C. Thomas Howell, Frances Fisher, Mare Winningham, Ernie Hudson and Wayne Knight.

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I'm american and i've been a fan since the very first episode (UK original run first episode) and this is just horrible, it has way too much flare like something straight out of a hollywood film. I'm so very disappointed because starz is better than this, americans can do better than this, how they dropped the ball on such a great show is beyond me.

May 27 2011 at 1:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

BTW, it would be really cool if you could do more interviews with costume designers talking about what they do. IMO, it's a much under-appreciated element in setting the look and tone of a show., or even setting characters. In The Good Wife, you knew Kalinda was not to be triffled with before Archie Panjabi did anything. Just look at those boots. Ditto for Battlestar Galactica -- the decision to avoid "science fiction" costumes was totally in sync with the over-all determination of the show to subvert genre cliches.

May 26 2011 at 10:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is beyond belief that they could even think of "modernizing" Captain Jack's coat. This coat has become an icon as well as an absolute delight to us all. It WAS an old RAF (Royal Air Force) Greatcoat and it had a style and a swing that is totally missing from the travesty produced for this new series. Additionally, there is no understanding at all of the way Gwen has always been dressed up till now and has never failed to look stunning! She did not need "redefining" because she was dressed exactly as we would have wished her to be! I think they have broken a lot of hearts with the changes and it is clear there has been little understanding of what was needed to continue these two very special characters loved by so many for nearly five years.

May 26 2011 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sarann's comment

Personally, I think it looks nice. I haven't actually seen any good shots of it in action to tell how it moves, but it doesn't look very different from the old one. Given Jack is immortal, do you really think he's going to be able to wear the exact same coat throughout eternity? His original greatcoat was left on the TARDIS and the TW coat was already destroyed in COE and he's taken off to who-knows-where in the universe between then and now, maybe this is one he's had made somewhere in the fashion of his old one.

May 27 2011 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Geminia's comment

Well, they didn't make a very good job of it, did they?! Being a man of style then you'd think he'd be rather disappointed to find it was a poor comparison to the original! When Torchwood was being made in Wales by the BBC they had two coats, one of which was longer than the other, the shorter version being used for walking, the longer of the two for use in scenes where they needed to show the length and swirl it had - something which seems to be lost on this new American version. The July issue of SFX Magazine has one or two photographs of Jack which show how badly fitting it is and it really shows how much care the BBC used to take with their star!! I have no doubts at all that Captain Jack's forceful personality will shine through all this but how sad that John hasn't been shown the care and respect he deserved in this matter.

May 27 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Sulamite Tepfers

In fact I find it highly offensive, after all it is a British Show, created and originated in the UK - THREE series ago.
There is absolutely no doubt that 75% of UK Fans are now furious. Personally I HATE Starz! ABSOLUTELY HATE STARZ!

May 26 2011 at 2:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Sulamite Tepfers's comment
Sulamite Tepfers

I am sick and tired of UK fans not being allowed to see Starz Torchwood trailers!!!!
By the time Straz is finished with Torchwood, there will be no UK fans left.

May 26 2011 at 2:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sulamite Tepfers's comment
Craig Ranapia

Sulamite: Oh, FFS... take a very deep breath. If I had an aneurysm every time the BBC geoblocked trailers/website content, I'd be posting this through a medium as I'd have died years ago.

May 26 2011 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I'll be interested to see how they kill off Gwen in this series. After all, RTD killed off Tosh and Owen in series 2, and Ianto in CoE. It's pretty safe to say it's Gwen's turn to take the bullet, so to speak. If she's lucky, she'll get to die in Jack's arms, like Ianto did.

May 25 2011 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to blu's comment

That's just mean. They can't kill off Gwen. Although I must say, I love that about British shows. They don't mind killing off main characters.

June 03 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, the trailer looked fabulous. I'm excited about the show being set in the U.S. I was a fan of the show when it was in Wales but I think after the last part where they killed off basically the whole team they needed a change of scenery. Too bad I don't have Starz though. I may need to sign up for it just for the run of the show.

May 25 2011 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rhea Silva

The coat is made from a non allergic wool. Not sure about the modernization of the coat: some RAF Great Coat used to have this slim cut as well. Anyway, if you are a torchwood fan, you will love this new serie even if it is located in USA

May 25 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like this trailer! And it looks like they shot scenes at "Bad Wolf Bay."

May 25 2011 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The more I see and hear, the less I want to have anything to do with it! Such a shame that a great show has been utterly destroyed.

Good luck to John & Eve..... I look forward to their OTHER projects with much interest....but, this.............leaves me totally cold.

May 25 2011 at 3:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Cate's comment

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