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Day of the Dead: Inside Torchwood: Miracle Day

On Friday, Russell T Davies, Eve Myles, Bill Pullman, and Mekhi Phifer gathered at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour to tease some details about Starz/BBC's upcoming Torchwood launch, which had been codenamed Torchwood: The New World.

Up until now, very little information had been available about the ten-episode project, which is set to air Stateside on Starz beginning July 1st, airing day-and-date with the United Kingdom. John Barrowman's Captain Jack and Eve Myles' Gwen Cooper were back, some new characters were in the mix (look for Pullman, Phifer, Dichen Lachman, and others), and the action would be split between Cardiff and the United States.

So just what is this new season about? And how is it connected to Torchwood: Children of Earth? Read on.

For one thing, the title isn't Torchwood: The New World, but rather Torchwood: Miracle Day and the plot revolves around a very strange set of circumstances that connect both to the fate of the planet and Captain Jack Harkness himself.

"The premise is a miracle that happens to the world," said Davies on Friday. "It’s as simple as this, that one day on Earth no one dies. Not a single person on Earth dies. The next day no one dies. The next day no one dies and on and on and on. Now, the sixth day, the old stay old and keep getting older. The dying keep dying, but no one quite dies. The possibility of death ceases to exist. Great news for some people, but globally? That’s what the whole show is about."

"It’s an instant overnight population boom where, suddenly, the Earth relies on people dying. That’s how the whole system works: the food, the room, the temperature. So, suddenly, you’ve got a crisis affecting everyone on the planet, and that’s where the Torchwood team and our brand-new characters come in."

While the action may have shifted to a more global approach and there are far more American accents in the mix than before, don't think that this Torchwood is an entirely new beast. The fourth season still has a strong inherent link to the plot that has come before and it's a continuation of the story of Jack and Gwen.

Torchwood has a history, Captain Jack has a history," Davies said. "It’s very important to say that, in many ways, while loving and embracing everything we have done in the past, this is a new start for Torchwood.”

Part of that new beginning is the introduction of several new characters. Phifer will play Rex Matheson, a CIA agent.

"[He] is a CIA agent, who is trying to figure out what Torchwood is and what’s happening and why the Earth is being targeted," said Phifer. "So he goes on this whole investigative tirade, if you will. He’s sort of a cocky, arrogant kind of guy and a little full of himself at certain points... But when it all hits the fan, he is very dedicated, very focused and really wants to help find out what the hell is going on here."

Meanwhile, Pullman will play a very different sort of character than you'd normally expect the one-time Independence Day star to take on.

"I [play] a convicted murderer and a pedophile," said Pullman to a shocked room of journos. "I’m put through lethal injections to be executed, and I live. That’s the beginning."

Regarding the casting of Bill Pullman, Davies joked, "I thought, I’ll get Bill Pullman in. I just need to make room for him. Put him to the sword to get the man. Yeah. It’s
actually a feature of Torchwood that I think promises to hold back a lot of more straightforward science fiction shows on big networks in that you get a cast of 12, and they are all under contract for seven years. So they all stay with you 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. You cannot guarantee who here will survive, and I think that raises the stakes for everyone."

(I'd actually agree with that assessment.)

And, as mentioned earlier, the plot of Torchwood: Miracle Day hits home for Jack Harkness, afflicted as he is with immortality. Just don't expect the Doctor to turn up any time soon.

"Captain Jack is an immortal, and what we are talking about is the world turns immortal," said Davies. "So there’s an awful lot of story packed into that... We honor and respect history. There’s no break in continuity. There’s no fracturing. There’s fewer references to [Doctor Who], let's be honest, because we are making a show out here, they are making a show in Britain. It’s quite difficult to coordinate any sort of crossover. Neither would you want to because both shows have a fantastic identity of their own. But for those fans who like that sort of stuff, it’s still absolutely faithful, and [if] you get the odd little moment it will satisfy on that level."

Finally, Davies applauded the series' new home on premium cable network Starz.

"We are talking premium cable," he said. "We are talking about a channel that is dedicated to bold ideas and exciting ideas and stuff that you won’t fit onto a network, and that’s always what BBC One has been back home. That’s always what Torchwood has been in its various guises. So it’s been a good fit. It’s been a wonderful fit, and we’ve learned a lot. And once we hit filming, we’ll learn an awful lot more."

Production began today on Torchwood: Miracle Day, which will launch July 1st on Starz and internationally on the same day.

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