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"Torchwood" is back and it's not just British anymore.
"Torchwood: Miracle Day" is a co-production of the BBC and Starz, and the 10 episodes commingle British and American talent.
"Frankly, it's bigger here, and there are different opportunities," said creator/executive producer Russell T. Davies. "That was our major drive for coming out here."
"Torchwood" is a spinoff of "Doctor Who"; the title is an anagram. It revolves around Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), an immortal who led the Torchwood Institute founded by order of Queen Victoria in 1879 to deal with extraterrestrials.
When last we saw Captain Jack, he was leaving Earth after he had to sacrifice his grandson to save millions of children from evil aliens.
Jack is back, and he reunites with the only other survivor of Torchwood, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), when the unimaginable happens. Death stops. No one dies. No matter how horribly injured.
Earth is about to get very, very crowded.
"Suddenly, you've got a crisis affecting everyone on the planet," Davies said. "And that's where the Torchwood team and our brand-new characters come in."
While the crisis is going on, someone is trying to erase all knowledge of Torchwood. CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer of "ER") heads to England to track down Jack and Gwen and bring them to the States.
Not surprisingly, someone or something is behind the end of death.
And, given that most of the old Torchwood is dead, a new group is formed: a British-American group that the BBC and Starz are hoping will continue for several more seasons. (Barrowman sounds American, but he's actually a Scot.)
The producer and cast talk a lot about this being a new beginning for "Torchwood," and that you can watch "Miracle Day" without having seen any of the previous 31 episodes.
"It's strange because this will be the fourth ['Torchwood'] series that I've been involved in, but it feels like the first," Myles said
Phifer had never seen "Torchwood" before he read the "Miracle Day" script and watched the miniseries "Children of Earth."
"I loved it, and I watched it all in one sitting," he said. "I haven't been this excited as far as a job in a long time."
Davies made it a point to say "that, in many ways, while loving and embracing everything we have done in the past, this is a new start for 'Torchwood.' "
That's true. But newcomers will have to be patient.
What makes the show distinctive and so much fun is that it has an extraordinary sense of humor. An adult sense of humor. Captain Jack is an omnisexual who proves magnetic to both men and women, and the show has always been intended for an older audience than "Doctor Who."
And Episode 1 of "Miracle Day" spends so much time setting up the premise and setting the narrative in motion that there's precious little of that humor in evidence.
Stick around. It's coming.
So will the drama. And, other than Captain Jack, you never know who's still going to be standing when a season of "Torchwood" ends. Davies likes it that way, as opposed to "more straightforward science-fiction shows" with a "cast of 12" who are "all under contract for seven years."
" 'Torchwood' was always at a high body count because I think it makes the story stronger and more dangerous and more frightening," he said. "You cannot guarantee who will survive, and I think that raises the stakes for everyone."
'Torchwood: Miracle Day'
The new season of "Torchwood" premieres Friday, July 8, at 11 p.m. on Starz. New episodes air on consecutive Fridays; each episode will be repeated at various times throughout the week.