Hello, Harkness, My Old Friend

Big thanks to Mike Phirman for letting me use his Tweet as the title to this comic. You MUST check out his new album! He was one of the big standout performances at this year’s w00tstock (a show about which he just released a very funny new song).

Alternate Title: The Dart Of Harkness

Hollywood certainly seems to like its “gay” easily identifiable. It’s the clandestine gays they don’t seem to fond of. Every once in a while a show or movie gets it right and actually portrays a homosexual as a regular person as opposed to a frolicking, mincing, bedazzled stereotype. That’s one of the things I like so much about Captain Jack Harkness. He’s a hero first, an adventurer second, a time traveler third, a bit of a slut fourth and an omni-sexual man somewhere towards the end. That’s how you build a character that actually promotes a positive image of homosexuals. You show them as a human, flaws and all, then (when the story dictates) you address their sexuality.

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Torchwood: Miracle Day is built around a fascinating concept. What if one day everyone stopped dying? The execution is… compelling if not a little uneven. Last week’s episode was about 14 minutes of story poured into a 50 minute bucket. I still enjoyed it quite a bit, but the pacing (considering it was the series’ halfway point) seemed sluggish. I will certainly be sticking around until the end if only to see who’s behind the “Miracle.” It’s a good mystery with a decent balance between questions and payoff. Still, it leaves me wondering: Where is The Doctor while all of this is going on? Seems like the kind of thing that would have cried out to him across the universe and… oh… right… if he showed up, they wouldn’t have a show. Carry on then.

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COMMENTERS: Are you watching Torchwood: Miracle Day? Do you like it more or less than previous seasons? The premise has really been causing me to come up with a lot of  post-Miracle Day “what if?” scenerios. I like it when a show makes me ponder its universe. What about Captain Jack’s eyes?  Are they TOO dreamy or just perfectly dreamy enough?

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  1. I WANT to watch Torchwood, but I don't get Starz. I will have to wait for it to be released on DVD. I think John Barrowman is one of the sexiest man on TV. Torchwood is fantastic and smart. I live for moments of Captain Jack on Doctor Who. He makes everything better.

  2. I say this as a 100% straight male but I have to agree. John Barrowman is a dreamy man.

    My favorite part of this comic is "Neils Patrick Harris" and ""Davids Hyde Pierce" I always get out of those kinds of words.

  3. At the very least you need to go back and watch Children of Earth, although starting at the beginning wouldn't be bad either.

    • I'd only seen children of earth when miracle day started getting advertised so I went right back to the beginning and re-watched jack's introduction in the 2005 series of Doctor Who before watching Torchwood and then again I watched the episodes with him in the 2006 series. I think it's well worth getting the background information to appreciate the characters and what torchwood is all about (plus some of the best non-tennant episodes of dr who).

      • This Summer, one of my friends reviewed all of Torchwood for the website we both write for (cliqueclack.com, for the record), but he refuses to watch Doctor Who. Every time he got confused about Jack, I'd tell him, "WATCH DOCTOR WHO AND IT WILL MAKE SENSE!" but he's super stubborn.

  4. I've been watching Miracle Day and I quite enjoy it, though I kind of miss the carelessness and fun of the earlier seasons. And Ianto, I miss Ianto.
    Also, John Barrowman's eyes are perfect, like the rest of him. 😀

  5. I think their problem is that they made it too much like Children of Earth (that played over 5 nights, or 5 hours on netflix if youre like me). Drawn out over 10 weeks makes it seem even slower than it is.

  6. Torchwood is just one of those geek phenomenas that just didnt "pop" for me. Its not bad, its just.. I dont care. Same thing goes for regular Dr Who for that matter.

  7. Having sat through a single taping of "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" at the CBC in Toronto, I'd rather have razor blades shoved in my eyes that listen to that ego maniac say another word. Because of this experience, I can't watch Torchwood.

  8. As much as I like Jack Harkness as a character (that scene with him fight-kissing Captain John [James Marsters]? Sexiest man-kiss ever!), Torchwood has been going steadily downhill since season 1. I barely managed to sit through Children of Earth, and opted out of Miracle Day after one episode. The writing just doesn't cut it anymore. Especially when you compare it to Moffat-written Dr. Who – which you can't really avoid because it's a spin-off.

    • Ah Ah AH AH AH! I have yet to watch any of Torchwood (catching up on Dr Who is taking enough of my time), but may just jump the gun now that James Marsters has entered the equation.

      • He's only in three episodes in season 2, not really worth the rest of the crapfest… but by all means, enjoy yourself. Mr Marsters is indeed delectable to watch.

    • Agreed. I tried and tried to love Torchwood, but I just couldn't do it. I can't even put my finger on why I don't care for it… I mean, it's campy, it's completely over the top, it's nerd-tastic. It just doesn't have the soul that Doctor Who has, nor the humor.

      • Yes, that is exactly it – the heart and soul is missing. And in Miracle Day it is just to bloody obvious that Russel T. Davies is writing for an American market. He wants those tasty viewer numbers, come hell or high water. And for that, he foists on us endless "Oh, you call that flibbertigibbet? How quaint and British! We say gibberflibbetty here in the States."-conversations. We get it – they are from different countries. Can we PLEASE move on with the story?!

      • it's a very different sensation and I for one am one of the Torchwood fans that gets it. I fully understand if you don't like. Especially if you're one of those who didn't like the miniseries format. It's not for everyone.

        • I am also on the edge of the camp with the flag "they yanked my chain" but I do watch when the opprotunity presents itself.

          I take Torchwood as the equivalent of Space 1999 season 2 where NY executives who [in their tiny minds] knew better. Yes the same geniuses who replace the Pratchett covers with plain black with bold text. Won't anybody think of the children?

    • I don't think you can say that Torchwood went downhill since Series 1. I mean, I don't think I've ever watched a more incomprehensible hour of television than They Keep Killing Suzie. Series 2 had To The Last Man, Meat, Fragments and even its bad episodes weren't horrific. Series 3 was stellar even with its slightly uneven final episode. But seriously, the Suzie episode? Damn, that was bad.

  9. I'm working my way through the first two seasons, and I think "Children of Earth" was one of the finest pieces of science fiction I've seen in awhile. "Miracle Day" is good, but I think giving them 10 episodes has hurt them…like you mentioned, the pacing on this one is messy.

  10. Joel, you make some fine points about Torchwood. It's really compelling and thought provoking without feeling lecturey (is that a word yet? It is now!). As for the Doctor, well, I'm assuming you watched the 1st half os Series 6, with the next 1/2 starting later this month, so you must know The Doctor has his own problems. Remember, Torchwood was founded to do these things when The Doctor's not around, right?

  11. In Children of Earth, Gwen basically asks where the Doctor is and decides that he got too disgusted with humanity and abandoned them.

  12. I love Captain Jack Harkness! What a guy! And The Coat is cool. The character is fun, but a little sad, too, because you can tell that in spite of all his flirting, he's lonely and haunted. Sort of a flawed, tragic hero, but a decent guy. I have to agree with Joel about the Doctor not turning up to be kind of a plot hole, because the event in this story is big enough that the Doctor should be all over it. OTOH, the TARDIS has been shown to be intelligent, and take the Doctor where he needs to be. Maybe the TARDIS knows that Jack can handle the situation, and the Doctor is not needed here. I have mixed feelings about the pacing. Maybe it could be a little quicker but after seeing the latest episode, the problem is obviously even bigger and more complex that it at first seemed, and it's kind of refreshing for a hugely complex problem not to be solved in 1-2 episodes by deus ex machina. I would say some of the previous Torchwood seasons had some pacing issues, with too much time spent on sex scenes and not enough on plot advancement, but mostly Torchwood has been a fun ride. I kind of like the way they've gone really dark with the current season. Too many T.V. bad guys that are supposed to be scary don't really turn out to be that scary after all, but the bad guys in Miracle Day are really scary, and some of them are ordinary people. I give it a thumbs up.

  13. Torchwood going downhill??? I just "kinda" like season one. Season two was boring. I was about to give up until Children of Earth was the best thing ever!
    Miracle day started really good but the last couple of episodes have been kinda slow. This could go two ways. A spectacular finale or a stupid reveal about the cause of the miracle.

  14. Well, it´s obvious, innit? The Doctor is currently too busy running after precious abducted baby River Snog (spelling intended) to bother about a silly little thing like people not dying and what comes of it.

    I love Matt´s Doctor, loved Neil Gaiman´s episode, like Amy and Rory and the occasional single episode is good, too, but I don´t enjoy the overall storyline of Moffat´s Who seasons so far and have disliked River Sue from her first appearance in the Library. She is "out-doctoring" the Doctor and that is not a good thing.

    As for Torchwood, I find the current storyline too depressingly realistic. It is just what would happen in a situation like this. Mankind is like that. (Which makes it rather good as science fiction – just not my personal taste in stories). But there are too many parallels to CoE – sometimes it feels too "been there, done that, seen that".
    I was never too keen on Gwen, and the rest of the characters don´t come across too charismatic, so Jack Harkness and my curiosity to know how the story ends is really the only reason I still turn in.

  15. Quick summary of Torchwood: Miracle Day – people stop dying and Mekhi Phifer yells a lot. Then there's some sex, then more yelling and no dying.

    I just bought you up to speed.

    And I didn't die… OMG its Miracle Day! Quick, someone throw Mekhi Phifer some throat lozenges!

  16. I enjoy Torchwood, I like Jack Harkness and all but honestly for someone whose supposed to be bisexual (yeah yeah.. i know "omnisexual") I haven't seen Jack hit on a female since Rose. The man turned down Donna and it's taken me a long time to get to a place where I could let that go. I thought it was going to happen last episode but nada.

    Would I like a return to the old form S1/S2 rather than the miniseries S3/S4? My first response is yes I would. I dunno I kinda miss the old style but Children of Earth was pretty darn good and, if I can join in the overuse of the term, "epic". So far Miracle Day has been just as good as CoE. My only complaint was with Mekhi Phifer in the first episode. The way he handled Torchwood was a bit heavy for his character. In my opinion they showed him to be opportunistic (in the opening) not a huge dick. It's like you show me a character as a thief and then he commits a murder but it's in character because he's still breaking the law?

    That's the closest thing I have to a complaint and it's really really tiny.

    • I don't know, he hit on Gwen a lot during for first two series. Remember inviting her to join Ianto and him in his office? Yeah, I don't think he was totally joking.

  17. I've watched Torchwood since the beginning, and after episode five of Miracle Day I've had to turn it off. Its constant assumptions that the audience is just stupid, cheap use of gore and failed attempts at 'shocking', ham-fisted, border-line offensive Holocaust 'metaphors' were just too much. It reeks of controversy made for the sake of controversy, and I just don't care about it enough to suffer through the terrible writing, the sidelined Captain Jack or the lovable pedophile any more.

    /end of rant

    On a lighter note, your comic made me laugh XD I need 'There is Nothing Gayer Than a Gay Architect' on a t-shirt…

  18. Let me just say, since you first watched Doctor Who, I've loved Hijinks Ensue so much more, heh. Because now there is all of time and space to parody. I have to admit the pacing has been uneven, but overall Miracle Day has had me on the edge of my seat. I've lately been watching while clutching my husband and yelling, "No! You can't do that!" at the screen very loudly. It's not as good as CoE, but for me a lot of that has to do with missing Ianto, who was honestly one of my favorite characters ever. Still, at least we still have Captain Jack to moon over.

    Thankfully Torchwood's secret gay agenda is working. All straight boys want Jack. That doesn't make you gay. It's just that Jack and his powers of teh sexy can overwhelm any odds.

    • Sorry, but I'm out on the extreme end of the spectrum. John Barrowman is very charismatic, and I'd willingly follow Capt. Jack Harkness into almost any situation, certain he'd be doing his best to get everyone out the other end alive – but I'm afraid I'd have to turn him down if he asked.

      On the other hand, if Toshi weren't suffering from a bad case of being dead of radiation poisoning…

  19. I found Children of Earth so wilfully depressing (I admired the production values, but has anyone been enough of a masochist to watch it twice?) that my enthusiasm for Miracle Day is negligible. If it comes my way on free-to-air TV one day I might watch it, otherwise meh.

  20. I find that pretty much all multiple episode storylines for Dr. Who and Torchwood have major pacing problems…it's as if there is 10-20 minutes more material than one episode, so they stretch it out into two. They build up a compelling and suspenseful story, and then the story drags down and usually ends up with an unsatisfactory explaination.
    Children of the Earth started out good and creepy, but I really tired of watching the aliens vomit while politicians tried to deal with them…so far I have been majorly unimpressed with Miracle Day.

    Maybe the problem is inherent in the difficulty to write high quality Sci-Fi – Many writers can come up with engaging scenarios that keep us guessing (Lost, BSG,the Matrix) but when it comes time to give answers – what they finally give us seems so lame after all that build up.

  21. I find that pretty much all multiple episode storylines for Dr. Who and Torchwood have major pacing problems…it's as if there is 10-20 minutes more material than one episode, so they stretch it out into two. They build up a compelling and suspenseful story, and then the story drags down and usually ends up with an unsatisfactory explaination.

  22. I am so glad that you did a comic about my favorite show! I've watched Torchwood since the beginning when it was airing on BBC3. If you get a chance you should check out the first three series. Miracle Day is a bit of a disappointment. I too am finding the pacing really sluggish. It seems like they have five episodes worth of story that they are trying to stretch into 10 episodes/ To be honest I am a bored by the whole thing so far. And where are the aliens?

  23. Eric McCormack is a hell of an actor – convincingly gay in Will & Grace, convincingly Jewish in Free Enterprise, but John Barrowman beats him hands down where it *really* counts – I just can't buy McCormack as American.

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