Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
Future Pain by James Goss
As the Torchwood team lick their wounds and prepare to say goodbye to Colchester (Paul Clayton), Captain Jack (John Barrowman) tries to track down and stop an alien god on the loose; a god that wants your future pain.
This story moves so fast and packs in so much. As well as the above you have the new alternate reality Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman) trying to put her stamp on Torchwood. Ng (Alexandria Riley) trying to prove herself after what she did to Gwen, and Orr (Samantha Béart) looking into the mind of this god. It feels more to me like set up for the rest of the boxset with some amazing character pieces than a stand alone story. But the beats it hits and the emotional resonance of saying goodbye to Colchester; a real highlight of the new Torchwood team, make this one not to miss.
The Man Who Destroyed Torchwood by Guy Adams
An alt-right keyboard warrior by the name of Brent Hayden (Tom Forrister) knows he is doing important work exposing the conspiracies few else dare. Suddenly his good work is being rewarded with hits on his vlog due to a new informant by the name of Tyler Steele (Johnny Green). Obviously Brent could have worked with anyone from Torchwood he wanted to, but he likes the cut of Tyler’s jib (even if he does keep insisting he doesn’t work for Torchwood, that’s just what someone who worked for Torchwood would say!) everything is going perfectly, what could possibly go wrong?In a world of fake news, online hate and further only being helped by some leading politicians, what a perfect time for this story. You get to see Tyler playing this self entitled “truth seeker” by just handing him tidbits of information and then you see how Brent just blatantly makes things up and justifies it by saying it was implied…sort of like it just feels true. Sadly a very close reflection of how feeling-based politics works too often at the moment. Why let facts get in your way? It’s not only a great Torchwood story but one that speaks to our time. Only one thing I thought a little on the nose was having Brent living in his mums house. Only because this idea has been done a lot and how more interesting would it be to explore someone who maybe has had some success already spreading his bile? After all, too many people are getting ahead this way. Maybe he just bites off more than he can chew with Torchwood, looking for more viewers? But as it stands this is still a terrific and pacey story.
See No Evil by John Dorney
The city of Cardiff spontaneously all go blind. Only thanks to some Torchwood tech can Yvonne and Jack still see. But with a city in panic and a predator on the loose, is 2 sets of eyes enough? Especially when they split up so Jack can pay a debt of gratitude.Another perfect backdrop for a Torchwood or any sci-fi tale. The fear that people have of the dark on a 1 to 1 scale is scary. To deal with that with a whole city afraid and blind and with no way of running a city in such a state is beyond scary. A great showcase for Yvonne and an excuse to have a moment of her and Jack having to work together, which ultimately is a tease of what is to come in the next story. I won’t spoil how they are involved by Colchester’s grieving husband Colin (Ramon Tikaram), Sergeant Andy (Tom Price) and Orr also get some wonderful moments and performances in that push our two leads and the story along.
Night Watch by Tim Foley
The Black Sun comes through the rift to Cardiff and brings with it sleep to all in the city. Orr is made to stay awake and make sure everyone sleeps safe and someone lost comes back… but is that a dream too?This is hard to review without giving anything away, but let’s try! It’s another one that plays on a primal fear, this time of nightmares. Each cast member is given something big to play against. Sometimes it’s the idea of what they have done, sometimes it’s of who they are to people. Yvonne gets to fight the sleep with Jack and Ng, but how long can her cappuccino in a ring keep 3 people awake and will she want them both at her side if they can’t stop arguing. Basically it’s a great end to a great set.
All writers have come up with fantastic premises for Torchwood stories that lean well on the scary side of what makes a Torchwood story. Aliens and a god are there but more it feels to help these stories along than to lead them, but not so you feel cheated of the theme. The cast is so strong working together (maybe partly helped by Barrowman being able to be in the studio this time as opposed to recording somewhere in America) and they have put in so many alliances and questions over loyalty to give in equal measure a team and a nice amount of conflict. Hats off too to direction by Scott Handcock. Can’t wait to see where this one goes next. 10/10.
Worship this god of a set by buying it on CD or Download now https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/torchwood-god-among-us-part-1-1859