First off, I'd like to stress that I'm not intending this question to lead to any sort of fandom!wank. After reading various reviews of the finale to Miracle Day (e.g. from io9, TVGA;, and IGN), it seems that the general consensus is that Miracle Day paled in comparison to Children of Earth. While I do see some points that this articles make, such as the tension that CoE was able to carry through its 5 episodes, versus Miracle's 10 eps, I don't understand why many reviews seem to find CoE so much more amazing than Miracle (or, as What!Culture seems to think, better than series 1 or 2 as well). Can anyone who's seen Torchwood: Children of Earth explain to me what makes it so much better than series 1, 2, or Miracle Day? Was it the characters? The plotline that had 'fewer plotholes' (but this is TW that we're talking about)? I do see some of the flaws (and positives) of Miracle, but I don't see how it falls /that/ much shorter than CoE. Series 2 seemed more exciting than CoE in parts (we got lots of character insight into Rhys, Tosh, PC Andy, and Owen, whereas CoE flattened Ianto into a borderline-self-loathing character, and Jack and Gwen stayed pretty static). Thoughts?
Most people who feel that CoE was superior to the other series of Torchwood point out the plot/story narrative. It's true that some/several of 1&2 had stories that didn't make much sense (abbadon) or were poorly thought out. Miracle Day, frankly, had no narrative sense, IMO and what little story there was was terribly executed (Jane E had to *tweet* the fact that incerated people were 'truly dead' because htey somehow didn't manage to get that in the actual show, despite all the dragging episodes, as an example).Both MD and CoE are 'plot driven' stories, that is, they're not (much) about character development or character motivation, S1 and 2 are character driven stories; we're there to see the character's reactions to things -- more like people's imagination of soap opera. Really, good work has to have both character development and motivation and a good storyline (an external force acting to drive the story forward). I think S1 ep3 'Ghost Machine' of Torchwood is an excellent example of that; we see Owen (infamously revealed to be using an alien date rape drug in Ep 1) forced to face what his actions feel like from the other side -- and change due to that -- and Gwen get her first taste of the tendency to failure and death that is a through line in most of Torchwood.CoE, while characterization didn't match S1 and 2, most viewers of it were not viewers of S1 and 2 so Ianto's behavior and the shift of T'wood leadership from Jack to Gwen wasn't OOC.
I haven't seen all of Miracle Day yet, so I'm not the best person to answer this, but judging from what I have seen...Viscerally, I found Miracle Day less interesting, comparatively dull - less substance to each episode. I think it should have been shorter.CoE was, in my opinion, extremely well written - even when it wasn't what I wanted to see in Torchwood. I didn't think that of Miracle Day, partly because I didn't like the characters as much (including Jack and Gwen), mainly because of the pacing.I don't mind plotholes. My favourite series of Torchwood is series 1, despite its flaws. For my money, it had the most heart.
I found MD to be entertaining in a fun way - like Torchwood always has been, minus the depressing end to COE - but there are times when MD came across as being too clever and too long for its own good, resulting in a few occassions when I was clock-watching and just wanting to get to the final. Because COE was only 5 episodes long, there wasn't time for much filler, though it did drag a little during the middle episode.Whilst I enjoy Gwen's 'speeches' for the most part, they're starting to become a bit contrived rather than natural like they used to be and I was surprised that Jack didn't comment about what it was like to be immortal again. I guess the Blessing gave him a sense of peace that he didn't have before that moment but like someone else has pointed out, the seriousness of Jack becoming immortal again and the fact that eveyone else in the world is starting to die again, was undermined by the slightly 'comic' moment of the team going "what! what! what!" when it appears Rex is immortal. Basically, MD had too much going on to allow secondary storyarcs to really develop. Only Gwen's concern for her father remained consistant. And RTD continues to pull the same old trick of killing off the quieter and sweeter characters - Ianto, Tosh and now Esther - whilst allowing some of the more mouthy characters and even a few bad guys to escape with their lives. Russell is a good writer but he's becoming a bit predictable now, a bit too obssessed with angst.
After watching the finale, nods to Doctor Who aside, my biggest complaint about about it was I quite often felt like I was watching some other show which just happened to have a few TW characters in it (sort of along the lines of Munch moving from H:LotS to L&O:SVU). CoE at least had the benefit of feeling like it was part of the Torchwood series, even though that story didn't match the previous two seasons.I think Miracle Day was a 5 episode long story and would have been better if they hadn't stretched it out like they did, or they should have tightened up the writing. Jack's characterisation in MD wasn't consistent with how he'd been written previously; at times I wondered if the writers had bothered to watch either TW or DW. The macabre elements this time were more horrific, but let down by clunky story writing around these scenes.Edited at 2011-09-12 02:00 pm (UTC)
See I had all sorts of problems with CoE, but I really think that MD made it look like King Lear. It was so much more tightly plotted, and even if you didn't like the plot, it played out well over 5 episodes, where MD felt like a lot of filler. Plus CoE didn't have people standing around saying exposition, which in MD was often long winded and nonsensical. Like others have said, the problems with CoE were more about characterisation, although there were some plotholes as well.One of my problems with CoE was the TW team feeling like supporting characters in a political thriller, and MD felt like the TW team as supporting characters in a long winded Hollywood procedural, with a bit of alien action towards the end. Jack especially seemed to stand around doing very little a lot of the time, with the odd exception he seemed to have lost the Capt Jack thing, and was a bit tired a lot of the time.
Jack coming across as tired was properly one of the better things about MD, in that after losing Ianto and Steven in COE - not to mention the Hub base he'd been living in for many years - he was bound to have lost some of his spark. The Blessing may also have been having an effect on his energy levels during the story.I agree that in both MD and COE, Jack sometimes felt like a supporting character in another show - a supporting character to Frobisher in COE and a supporting character to Rex in MD. Gwen was used a little better in both series but not much.
Oh but I didn't think he came across as tired as an acting thing. I thought it was more that his performance lacked anything, and often he just seemed to need to go have a little rest. With the exception of some of episode 7, and a few other moments, I just felt like JB wasn't there. Not like he was being directed to act that way. Especially in moments when homophobic jokes were being thrown around, he just looked pissed off. You know there is a scene in CoE when he's like this, and then when he wrote the book, he described how he had a falling out with the director and was feeling really grumpy, and it was a bad day, hence the way he came across. So I'm really wondering what the next book will have to say about MD. I felt like Jack was a supporting character in CoE, and it surprises me that JB doesn't get his agent to actually say in the contract that he is supposed to be the lead and should have more lines. Eve Myles had more lines in CoE, and I'm sure she did in MD as well. In MD he felt like an even more minor character. It just makes me wonder how pissed off he is, because we know actors do count their lines and compare their roles to other actors etc. He's clever enough to notice that stuff.