Torchwood: Miracle Day – episode three review

In which Jack tries to find the answer to Earth's problems in a barman's bedroom

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So, this is it, the notorious “bare backside” episode that incurred the wrath of the BBC censors – but did viewers over here get a bum deal? In the preview copy, Brad’s bottom was definitely on show, yet if the corporation thinks this is more shocking than Captain Jack getting repeatedly punched in the stomach by security goons, then we’re living in an odd world. A sustained physical assault – sure, why not? But heaven forfend we should witness gay nakedness.

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How Jack managed to find time for sex in the first place is surely the bigger issue. There’s Torchwood, planning to infiltrate the shady PhiCorp, but what’s Jack’s priority? A quick bunk-up with the barman at the Golden Gopher, of course. Not that he’s alone – Dr Juarez took a break from debating medical ethics by hitting the sack with should-be-dead Rex. Quick, someone put those contraceptives in the water supply.

As for the rest of the team, well, there was a lot (an awful lot) of talk about cultural differences between the US and the UK. Crisps/chips, mobile/cellphone, cashpoint/ATM, trousers/pants. Enough already! We know all of this in Britain thanks to CSI imports, while America has just given Emmy nominations to Luther. Where’s it going to end: with Gwen eating an aubergine/eggplant while walking along the pavement/sidewalk?

So, we had Jack halting the investigation for the sake of a sex montage and some pretty woeful dialogue, but was there anything to recommend about this third instalment? Well, Bill Pullman is delivering some much-needed edge as Oswald Danes (although shut your eyes and he sounds exactly like Tony Shalhoub in Monk) and the scene in which Jack realised that he and this monstrous paedophile were both, in a sense, child killers was by far the best moment.

But there needs to be an increase in confrontations like this, plus more sequences featuring such things as the cavernous warehouse filled with mysterious boxes (surely one of the great staples of fantasy drama). For a minute it looked like Jack would find the Ark of the Covenant or discover that the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files was behind the entire conspiracy, but at least it was progress of a kind.

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As society breaks down, there’s a danger that – if we continue to take pointless detours – the narrative of this ten-parter will go the same way. Nice to see the contact-lens cameras back, though – who wouldn’t want to get their eyeballs on a pair of those?