Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
*Contains some spoilers
3 new stories from the Torchwood one team bringing together Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd)? Yes please! And this time we are focusing on some mechanical menaces!
The Law Machines by Matt Fitton
The mayor of London really is lucky to have the help of Torchwood. Thanks to their nifty new law enforcement robots, crime is soon to be a thing of the past, as she is assured by Yvonne Hartman. Just as long as they don’t kill everyone first!
What a great and dynamic story to start with. The premise is simple really. Machines are used as law enforcement and they go bad. Torchwood has to solve it. Where it gets more interesting (AND WHERE SPOILERS COME IN) is when it a hacker; seemingly out to make a few bucks, turns out to be under the control of classic Who baddy Wotan. I mean, who saw that coming?! Such a natural fit for a story like this and a great unexplored character to expand upon, especially in the modern world. Also how great to have Sarah Jane Adventures alum Daniel Anthony in as hacker Julian! This story makes an hour fly by, classic Matt Fitton writing.
Blind Summit by Gareth David-Lloyd
Ianto can’t remember when he didn’t work for Torchwood. Thankfully after some flashbacks we get some back story of how it all happened…
Let’s just start with Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) writing for Ianto. He already proved himself nicely as a writer for Torchwood in a stand alone tale earlier in the year and he brings it again.
Ianto has a dead end job making coffee (which explains one of his specialist skills) and given his Dad is ill he is constantly having to borrow rent. He is a far cry from the suited and booted man we know and there-in lies the fun. They haven’t gone far enough away from the character to make him not himself, but they have removed him enough to allow us to go on that journey with him. And with the help of some ret-con serum he gets several first meetings with Yvonne that give away a more honest side of her because she knows he won’t remember. It also plants the seeds for the turmoil that Ianto will go through later with Torchwood. David-Lloyd also reveals in the extras he has mined his own past working in these kind of jobs for the story (as in the coffee shop, not a secret government organisation) which makes sense as that job felt real. Added to which they bring in that Ianto doesn’t drive at this stage. Possibly an in joke to when Gareth got the part and was meant to be the driver for the team only for RTD to discover he doesn’t drive? Great story.
9 to 5 by Tim Foley
Stacey (Niky Wardley) is very chipper for a temp. She loves Monday and can’t wait to see her friends at work. Her Monday does go on a bit of a downer when Ianto introduces himself to her by announcing she will die today. Ok, this is another story where SPOILERS will be unavoidable if I want to talk about it.
For half of this story you can tell there is something a bit off about the way the temps are treated. You have the treatment anyone who has worked as a temp will recognise as being regarded as lesser than by some staff and especially managers. But then they add the classic “Stepford” quality to that existing feeling and the sense of mystery of what it going on. Then they reveal the big twist. The folk in this office are manufactured people. Literally temporarily people. And again, if you’ve worked as a temp you can feel like that. The unsettling idea of finding out you aren’t the person you think you are is a master stroke by Tim Foley and the ends to which the people are being used it really clever too. Also if you are a fan of 80’s and 90’s kids TV, one half of Trev and Simon, Trevor Neil also pops up in this one.
This is a great boxset from start to finish. Direction by Barnaby Edwards is as always start to finish spot on and I think you can feel the hand of producer James Goss, who has been Mr Torchwood since it came to audio, in the way it comes together. And I promise Wotan didn’t make me say any of this!! 10/10.
Buy it now on CD or download here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/torchwood-one-machines-1762