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The 3 Worst Logic Failures Of Torchwood: Miracle Day And Why I’ve Stopped Watching

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Like a lot of you I’ve been tuning in to Torchwood: Miracle Day. I was a big fan of the original BBC series, which was itself a spin-off of Doctor Who, and now they’ve brought the concept to America in a plot wrapped around this rather simple premise: What if one day, everyone stopped dying?

At first Miracle Day seemed to have really thought this through, the show began delving into the massive societal problems created by a world in which no one can die but people still get hurt and sick. Captain Jack Harkness and the gang ran around trying to save the day… but then something started going wrong.

One of the great strengths of Torchwood has always been its ability to cut right to the emotional core of any situation, no matter how completely bizarre or otherworldly that might be. Suddenly turned into a sex-crazed succubus? Torchwood has always been more interested in how that transformation would feel that the scientific ramifications of such a happening. But Miracle Day has taken that a step too far, and as the series has developed it seems to have abandoned all semblance of reason and logic in favor of shrill, political drum-banging and a clumsy attempt to portray the governments of the world as little better than the Nazi Party.

Here’s how they’ve screwed it up. These are the three worst examples of fuzzy thinking, logical fallacies, and just downright stupidity currently in play thanks to the inexplicably bran-dead, political-agenda driven writers of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Russell T. Davies, Jane Espenson… we expect more from you. Captain Jack Harkness deserves better ideas than these…

Warning: Spoilers follow.

Brain Dead People Should Be Allowed To Live Forever
In a world where no one dies, you immediately end up with a pretty big problem: The hospitals start filling up. The problem in the world of Torchwood is that while people can’t die, they also still get seriously injured. Hospitals are now full to the brim with people who have no hope of recovery and are basically braindead. Worse all these stacks of critically injured, unconscious people piling up in the hospitals are starting to carry disease and, something needs to be done about it before everyone in the world has Cholera. The solution to this problem is obvious, it’s time to redefine what death is. So the government sets about doing just that and, label braindead patients with no hope of recovery as “category 1” and sends their still breathing but otherwise lifeless bodies off to be incinerated. It’s not pretty, but it’s the only real solution to this problem.
The Torchwood gang responds by launching a crusade against the government to try and shut down their program to deal with the ongoing crisis. The entire premise of the show is now basically this: Bodies should be allowed to keep breathing and living no matter what effect it has on the rest of the society. Look, it isn’t pretty, but let’s face facts here: These people may be breathing but they are dead. This would be like keeping your braindead, 102 year-old grandpa on life-support even though it might mean that the 32-year-old woman with a family of six in the next bed over won’t get proper care. It doesn’t make sense.

Keep in mind here that this is a show which believes dirty laundry is a crime against humanity. Tonight on Torchwood crusading Dr. Vera Juarez became so concerned about soiled sheets that someone had to shoot her in the neck. This is the same woman who believes it’s wrong to incinerate the brain dead, and therefore believes it’s fine to just let basically dead people stack up without doing anything at all about it. Apparently she doesn’t mind filthy corpses littering the streets of America, but she has a huge problem with a few unwashed bed linens laying in a utility closet.

Categorizing People Is Inherently Evil
Even if categorizing people as living, likely to recovery, or this guy is basically dead and let’s stop wasting time on him, didn’t lead to incineration… Torchwood seems to have a problem with the categorization of humans in any way. The show treats putting people in these three categories as if it’s some mortal sin against god and country, as if by properly defining what someone is or isn’t, is an infringement of our civil liberties and tantamount to tearing up the Constitution. Except well… everything we do in every part of our life is all about categorizing.

It’s this same sort of bullshit logic that has TSA agents strip-searching grandmas at the airport instead of that sweaty, nervous guy in line behind her. Putting people in categories is what it takes for society to survive. Every part of your life is about being categorized. Once a year the government decides which tax bracket you fit in. When you go to the DMV you’re categorized by the type of license you receive. Doctors routinely categorize patients based on urgent care need. Society is nothing but categories, without categorization the whole bloody thing falls apart. There’s nothing wrong with categorizing people, it’s what you do with those categorizations that matters. Putting people in categories is how we survive, and in a crisis like the one this show has presented, it’s more critical than ever.

People Will Unite Behind A Pedophile If He Says Something Interesting
It’s not just a lack of basic reasoning that’s plaguing Miracle Day, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the human race involved here, somewhere. One of the stars of the show is a convicted pedophile killer named Oswald Danes who, thanks to the Miracle, survives his federally mandated death sentence. Released from prison on that technicality, Danes sets out to become some sort of national hero who people now flock to as if he’s some sort of religions leader. Because he survived death, Danes is now viewed as some sort of hero with insight into the nature of this no one ever dies miracle.

Forget for a moment that Danes is only one of thousands upon thousands of people in the Torchwood universe who have now stared into the face of death and lived, even if he were the only one, he’s still a pedophile. People don’t like pedophiles and Danes is a particularly nasty, unrepentant one who’s really done nothing to win people over beyond a few words. At least 40% of the country still hates President Obama for being a community organizer, what chance does a pedophile have of turning public opinion in his favor just because he starts running around shouting that everyone is an angle? None. It’s a premise so implausible, based on a complete and total misreading of the most basic tenants of public perception. People hate pedophiles. A lot. And Oswald Danes hasn’t done anything to change that.

It’s frustrating really, Torchwood: Miracle Day started out with tremendous promise and, when used properly Captain Jack Harkness is a hellaciously cool character. But with every passing week the logic behind this increasingly slipshod series becomes worse and worse, with the show threatening to spiral out of control in the pursuit of high-emotion low-intelligence moments. This week was enough for me, I deleted Miracle Day from my DVR schedule. Let me know if you’ve done the same.

Comments

  1. Torchcast says:

    Amazing how quickly ppl jump down RTD throat because he’s doing something different. Like a spoiled child we lash out because it’s not what we expected. (Forgetting that if the BBC had it’s own way, there would be no more Torchwood)

    Come on ppl! If you don’t like it, watch something else, don’t ruin it for the rest of us who genuinely enjoy it just because you’re having a crappy day.

    • JT says:

      So you think the show’s going in a good direction?  I mean you don’t have any problem with the 3 very specific (and vital) plot points I listed?  I want to love this show.  I loved the other Torchwood.  I’m a huge Doctor Who fan.  I want to love this as much as anyone, but how can you look at this stuff and say “yeah ok”.  It’s awful, awful writing dude, from any perspective.

      Maybe I’m just spoiled because I know how good these people are and that they’re capable of so much better. But I think that makes this even worse, because we KNOW they can do better!

      • TorchCast says:

        In a world where the most popular show in America is the Jersey Friggin Shore?!?!?!?!? YES I’m very grateful for anything RTD puts on American television screens. When I watch a piece of fiction I fully expect to be “taken away”. And sure there’s some  flaws with the series, but focusing on them makes it hard to enjoy anything. I find a lot more good than bad. Bill Pullman’s performance alone is breathtaking. He’s NEVER played anything like this and I for one think he deserves an Emmy. Captain Jack is confused right now. (Much like he was in the first season of Torchwood) He’s mortal. You know the “Alien” Element is coming. Mankind isn’t capable of such a feat. And Jack I suspect has a lot more to do with all of this then he’s letting on. Enjoy the mystery. (Besides, Torchwood isn’t going away anytime soon) http://tinyurl.com/3h8vcsz

        • JT says:

          I’m willing to overlook some flaws, but these flaws are becoming the central plot of the show, not just a few flaws.

          And if we grade everything on a Jersey Shore sliding scale… well we’re doomed.

    • Torchwood fan fromm 2006-2011 says:

      Hating the new series, there is nothing remotely torchwood about it. The plot is thin and flawed and for the first 5 eps NOTHING happened it was just “Torchwood” running from place to place telling us either what we already knew or didnt even need to know ie the souless and the dead is dead campaign, unless these are not important to the story why have them? We are now finished ep 7 and it the first time in the series we are actually told something (that could have been covered 30 minutes at most). Overall I am hugely disapointed with this series the acting is poor, plot is thin and all the cliffhangers are just boring RTD writing was starting to annoy me towards the end of Dr who but I always liked his torchwood stories, now he is reusing old ideas (anyone else remember Owen Harper’s condition in his final episodes ) just applied to a wider range. This is not Torchwood anymore where are all the things that made Torchwood what it was the Hub, the SUV, alien tech, weevils, the rift, good stories that keep you watching, beleivable characters, hell even Cardiff. I realise things like the hub and suv were blown up/stolen but they could always rebuild, I dont know if this is because of the switch to America or RTD has completely lost the ability to write but either way this is aweful.

  2. Mary Lou says:

    Not sure I agree that these are the worst things about Miracle Day, but i am equally disappointed in the new season’s direction. As you said, I expect so much more from the likes of RTD and Jane Espenson. Ill stick it out because of my love for Harkness, but if he doesn’t stop being so gloomy and the show keeps throwing logic and science out the window, I don’t think ill be back next season. If there is another season.

    • JT says:

      I could totally stick with it just for Jack Harkness, but they aren’t using him very much in this show.  He’s so lost it’s like they don’t know what to do with him, you know?

      What would you say are the worst things about Miracle Day?  I can put up with just about everything else, but these completely ridiculous logic problems are really bothering me.

  3. Raidensoul says:

    Is Miracle Day full of logical fallacies and over-the-top emotions? Yes. But on the other hand, Children of Earth was much, much worse. The entire mini-series was just incredibly depressing, and didn’t have any of the fun moments of the first two Torchwood seasons.

    I have to admit that I didn’t find the latest episode of Miracle Day as entertaining as the rest of the season – but if you can overlook the points above as a matter of the entire world just changed, how are people going to react – it’s Russel T. Davies’ interpretation of how mankind would respond to a crisis/miracle of this proportion. The most important thing is that for most of the series, it has been a fantastic ride – the increased production values and the great new characters, along with Jack and Gwen, have put some of the fun back into Torchwood. Who wasn’t cheering in Ep 1 when Gwen shot down the chopper with a rocket launcher? Or when Esther was awestruck about the head-backwards CIA assassin, Gwen just shot out a snide ‘welcome to Torchwood.’

    The show is at its best when it’s throwing these real people into completely unreal situations. While I’m onboard with the fact that Jack isn’t at his best at the moment, he’s coming to terms with his mortality. You have to remember that this is a man who was trapped back in time for thousands of years, and probably coming to terms with the fact he was indestructible, and suddenly he’s the most fragile man on Earth.

    All in all, i’m a huge fan of Miracle Day – and I hope it’s successful enough to spawn another mini-series, if not an entire new Torchwood series set in the US (blasphemy I know, but I think it feels slightly more realistic than ‘shit goes down in Cardiff’, dimensional anomaly or not).

    • JT says:

      Children of the Earth was brilliant.  Yes it was depressing, but it was fairly logically sound.  It had a few flaws but nothing this big or glaring, nothing this pivotal to the plot.

  4. New Torchwood Fan says:

    I’m obviously from a different place in space and time, because I’m really enjoying “Miracle Day.”  I’m outraged at the development of the destruction of the “category 1” people not because it is happening, but because it is being done without the permission or knowledge of the family.  It’s being done in secret, with the incinerators hidden on any photo published of the camp.  Loved ones have no idea their people have been destroyed.   My first horrible thought was “If people can’t die, how do they even know that incinerating them will do the job?”  

    • JT says:

      Well of course it’s being done in secret… the public would freak out and stop them from doing it.  But it clearly NEEDS to be done.  Again, the show acts as though the sin is that this is being done at all.  If they were raging against the secrecy of it then fine, but they just want to stop it altogether not bring it out in the open.

      And even that would be fine, if that had some sort of alternative solution. But they don’t.

  5. BerserkRL says:

    You didn’t mention the fact that category 2 people are being reclassified as category 1 — as with Gwen’s dad, and as with Rex.

    • JT says:

      Because that’s not really what the show is raging against.  If they’d make a bigger deal out of that it would make the whole fuzzy logic of what’s going on a lot easier to swallow. They aren’t doing that though.

      And Rex classified himself as Category 1, the system classified him correctly as Category 2.

  6. Gherkin says:

    Agree.. I have had to give it up too. I can’t take the hideously drawn out emotional scenes based on senselessness. I would be self harming if i had been a true fan in the first place. As it is it still upsets me that its so utterly confused, and oversimplified but yet totally illogical at the same time. Can’t take it anymore.

    • JT says:

      Exactly.  I so want to like the show, but I spend literally every second cringing and wincing at how illogical, and oversimplified nearly every single second of the show is.  And then every now and then they throw in a random, 30 second scene which feels like it was taken from a soap opera, just to pour a little salt on the wounds.

      • gherkin says:

        SPOILERS AHEAD. What really gets to me is that these people are supposed to be the most clever the world can provide, and yet there are many different ways that they could approach big plot points like instead of just straight out killing the grandson, etc. His mum could have said goodbye, they could have given it 2 minutes thought instead of just going ahead, etc. They didn’t even walk over and see if he was dead afterwards, ffs. Its just illogical, every moment. People don’t act like this. When they went in the cow shed with the kids, they just sat down. Normal people would have been running around the shed seeing if there was a basement or a place to hide the kids in. Its just simply beyond idiotic. And those over long drawn out emotional scenes just bring it right home to you that what they’re doing to get to here is senseless. If they left those out maybe we could jump from one silly thing to the next, but FFS don’t expect me to take it seriously & be sad about it, it just irritates me that these people are considered the best at dealing with such things when i could do it better myself.

        • gherkin says:

          (sorry i think in my above diatribe i confused the children series with the miracle day series… i’m in one of those countries where we don’t get any of them on tv so i’ve been downloading and watching both series together. Thats my excuse & i’m sticking with it lol.)

  7. Mike Jackson says:

    While I understand your need to rage against the logical failures of this season (I’ll still be watching it however) – I would seriously put an eye towards spelling and grammar in future posts. Whether or not I agree with your opinions the sheer number of errors in this post tends to make readers view it in a more childish light. Especially important for a note I would file in the “Rage” category. Just friendly advice from a fellow writer.

  8. TJ says:

    I think your being way to critical. Just enjoy a show to enjoy it possibly. Since you don’t enjoy this show, it’s good you removed it from your DVR. I for one of millions will still watch every week and enjoy this show. It’s certainly no Dr.Who but it is good enough to make me look forward to seeing it every week.

    • JT says:

      Sorry man, most of what you said makes no more logical sense than the show itself. Appreciate the comment though.

  9. Neilcatch says:

    Of *course* you’ve “stopped watching”. SIYKM.

  10. Kiaro says:

    You just know something is wrong with the world when brilliant British ideas are run to the ground by the child-like American thought process. It was a cross-over that was never really ment to work. It’s like at work when you get a new boss, suddenly the way in which you work has to change in order to keep someone happy. In this case it keeps America rattling it’s little play toy happily, causing the rest of us to suffer. Plus, it’s almost as if the message coming across in the show is ‘hey, we’re the US and we’re so bloody aweful and stupid, but the rest of the world would follow us, so you’re all as bad as us.’

    There is something seriously wrong with this program, it should never have seen the light of day.

    • Erik says:

      That’s the feeling I get, too, almost as though there were some studio
      committee reviewing each script and then saying, “I like it, but can we
      just…”

  11. Floating62000 says:

    So, let me get this one correct, you find having a negative reaction to the government burning people alive who “should be” dead illogical but a rift in space and time running through Cardiff perfectly sensible?  Okey-dokey.  “Miracle Day”, flawed, yes, is no more or less logically flawed than either the first two seasons or “Children of Earth”.  Yes, I miss the days of the Hub and Owen and Ianto and Tosh, but “Torchwood” remains incredibly provocative, well written, and well acted, and, oh yes, ORIGINAL, especially when compared to 99.9% of television these days.  But, hey, to each his own.  Although if we’re talking flaws in logic, did you SEE any of Matt Smith’s first season as the Doctor?!?! That last episode of series 5 was a royal mess and hugely disappointing.  Yes, I’m a RTD/David Tennant partisan, but still.  (For the record, series 6 has been quite good, even if Smith and company bring zero gravitas to the party.)

    • JT says:

      A rift in space and time can happen anywhere. I fail to see your point.

      • Floating62000 says:

        Yes, in “Torchwood” land a rift in space and time can occur anywhere.  Very good.  Just as people being taken aback when their governments’ choose for them to burn other people alive can  occur in “Torchwood” land.  Seriously, you can’t comprehend this feeling?  You’re response is simply, “Well, in the new world, this makes perfect sense”?  So, I’m guessing in CoE you were feeling that, hey, yeah, to save the rest of the planet sending off 10% of the world’s children is just perfectly fine, right?  In other words, you’re being morally inconsistent and relativistic here, which, again, to each his own and really who isn’t to some degree, but don’t chalk up your disinterest in the series to a creative failure. 

        • JT says:

          We know how people behave.  In order for something to be plausible, people must behave in the way that we know they will behave.  We don’t know how a rift and space and time would behave, so it’s fine to use that in pretty much any way you see fit and still maintain plausibility. It’s a pretty simple concept.  These are the basic building blocks of any decent piece of fiction. 

          You don’t seem to be actually reasoning any of this out, you’re mostly having a blind emotional reaction, which I guess is exactly what Torchwood is hoping for. You’re clearly the target audience.

  12. JT says:

    Your thought process isn’t very logical man.  Sorry. Not following you.  You’re putting words in people’s mouths and making bizarre leaps of assumption which really don’t fit together.

  13. BruSimm says:

    Good points JT…  On brain dead people…  I’m ambivalent. I think it’s a process that would get refined as time went on in the TORCHWOOD world.

    Is it possible that the evil aspect of categorizing the different kinds of people is intentional by the writers?  With all the countries closing their borders and such, it almost makes sense in a subtle undertone of a way.

    Yes, people would back a pedophile.  Politicians and athletes prove it all the time.  They do something wrong, their pitchmen make them work hard at “moving on” and for some blasted reason, people do forget and move on.  (Don’t ask me!  I have a brain like an elephant…  make that memory.  If someone does something inherently nasty or evil, like M. Vick or DMX, they’re dead to me, for just about ever.) And yet, others continue to forget and re-embrace these fools.  So yea, I can buy that.  Especially in a desperate time like MIRACLE DAY… when lost souls strive to make sense of things.

    Season finale is next Friday.  I’ve committed my time and have to see it through ….  damnit.

  14. Jim says:

    Your very defense of the burning solution shows why it is plausible and realistic that it would happen.  The show never said the burning itself was simply evil — it raised the issue for you, the viewer, to decide.  The danger in the categories is that people are glibly miscategorized.

  15. Djv1985 says:

    The people didn’t get behind a pedophile for no reason some went behind him as they believed him to be some kind of prophet, he was the first one to be killed but not actually die, this would lead a lot to believe he is some sort of messiah, look into the real world, you see cults all the time claiming their leader is a messiah, people are willing to believe in anything if it offers answers, look at modern religion, whilst i believe in a god of some kind it is not one that belongs to any one religion. 

  16. 456 says:

    You can blame the idiotic Oswald Danes storyline on Jane
    Espenson. She used the exact same story idea in the Buffy Season 8 comic book
    series when she reintroduced the vampire character of Harmony. SPOILER (for
    Buffy): The story revolves around how Harmony becomes a worldwide celebrity
    after killing a Slayer and drinking her blood on TV. She goes on to become a
    media darling, doing interviews with Anderson Cooper, Larry King, etc. This
    becomes a major plot development that destroys Season 8 because it forms the
    basis for the entire anti-Slayer / pro-vampire storyline that dominates the remainder
    of the series. END SPOILER

    This all shows how Espenson has an incredibly poor
    understanding of human nature. To see how human beings would really react when
    confronted with genuine monsters, just take a look at the recent Magnotta case.
    His atrocities made him the subject of a worldwide search and he was caught
    within two weeks. That’s what would have happened to Oswald Danes (or Harmony) in
    real life. The fact that Espenson can’t see that makes me question her
    competence as a writer (yes, writing is about more than just snappy dialogue…character
    logic matters!).

    The logic failure in Miracle Day that pissed me off the most
    is how Espenson ignored the canon regarding Jack Harkness’ immortality. She
    wrote it as something that could be transmitted via a blood transfusion,
    whereas it was established early on in Doctor Who and Torchwood that Jack
    became immortal because Rose Tyler essentially rewrote the laws of physics in
    order to resurrect Jack after his death by the Daleks, turning him into a “fixed point” in space and time in the process. This development totally ruined
    the show for me from both a logical and character standpoint. It cheapens Jack’s
    character arc by eliminating his uniqueness and his eventual rise to greatness (one of my favorite moments in
    Doctor Who was when the Doctor and Martha realize that Jack will one day become the Face
    of Boe). And Rex was such an obnoxious character that I would never want to see
    a fifth season of Torchwood if he was in it.

    So, once again Jane Espenson is doing what she does
    best—writing down things without any semblance of narrative coherence
    and destroying all my favorite shows in the process.