As Starz gets ready to unleash Torchwood: Miracle Day this summer, there’s one element of the sci-fi drama that’s not referenced in the trailer. When word first broke of the U.S. network picking up the cult favorite BBC series and changing its setting to Los Angeles, fans worried the show’s immortal bisexual hero, Captain Jack Harkness, would be portrayed differently. According to the show’s cast and showrunner, the new series doesn’t hold back. “I knew they would be true to the show and not change drastically,” says star John Barrowman. “If it was watered down, I wouldn’t have done it. For those people who are our stanch fans, it’s going to have the heart and soul of Torchwood which we’ve always had, plus the energy and excitement of a show that’s bigger and better.”
As for his character’s love life, Barrowman says Capt. Jack “gets to have full-on boy-sex a couple of times. On those days going to work I’d wake up and Scott my partner would say, ‘What are you filming today?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh it’s going to be a tough day, I get to have sex with a 24 year old.’”
For Americans checking out Torchwood for the first time, a TV action hero who beats up bad guys, saves the world, and wins the boy is likely a new experience. But showrunner Russell T Davies says that, contrary to what Americans might assume about all European countries, our primetime lineup is more progressive about showing gay characters. “The portrayal of gay, bisexual, and lesbian characters [in America] is currently way ahead of Britain,” Davies says. “The kids on Glee, the beauty and detail of that couple on Modern Family. We’ve got nothing like that. Even a nice Republican sitcom like $#*! My Dad Says, a show I quite liked, was stacked with intelligent gay-friendly stories, and that’s in a corner you’d never expect to find them. If course, it’s all the gay men and women sitting on writing teams pushing their stories forward, which I think is wonderful.”
In Torchwood: Miracle Day, the CIA brings in Capt. Jack and Gwen Cooper for assistance when, suddenly and inexplicably, nobody in the world can die, causing the population to skyrocket, criminals to be indestructible, and a host of problems from overcrowded hospitals to food hording. Spoiler alert:* Yet this season Captain Jack is mortal, putting himself at risk fighting a sea of enemies who cannot be killed. “You’re going to get a lot into the history of Jack,” Barrowman teases. “You see one of his big relationships that defines a lot about who he is. You also find out a lot about Jack and Gwen.”
Gwen, meanwhile, is now in hiding and a protective mother. “You’ll see her as a mother and a warrior,” Eve Myles says. “She’s militant and does what she has to do and has to make the biggest sacrifice of her life. The only place for Torchwood to go was bigger and better. We’ve completely conquered that this year.”
The change in location has been “marvelous,” Myles added, though it was also intimidating. “Coming here to Hollywood to play a character I love, you’d think I’d be the most confident person in the world, and I’m not,” she says. “Walking onto the Warner Bros. lot was the best and most nervous day of my life. I was a sweaty heap.”
Meanwhile Davies says he’s keeping the cost of admission low for new viewers by using the change of location to help explain the show. “You know how sometimes on a show you can tell a new executive has come in, like the Spock’s Brain year on Star Trek – it’s not like that,” he says. “It’s faithful and careful and honest, but at the same time, it’s brand-new for a whole new audience. In Episode 1 you have a brand new cast of American actors who have never heard of Torchwood saying, ‘What is Torchwood?’ So all those questions in the mind of a new audience are literally being said on screen and being answered.”
*Getting ton of grief from readers for including this despite having a bold spoiler alert warning. As I noted in the comments, this is not a big twist that happens in the middle of the season. It’s a previously unannounced part of the set-up for the show and is introduced near the start of Episode 1. People involved in the show knew it would leak this week since the first three episodes were sent to critics. So, again, sorry if you did not want to know this and kept reading anyway, I normally do not report spoilers at all, but once you watch the season I suspect you’ll realize this isn’t the spoil-spoiler you think it is.