Review by Jacob Licklider
When adapting Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet for the modern day, Steven Moffat noticed that everyone trusts a cabbie. They’re paid to take you from point A to point B, putting up with your terrible drunkenness and your insults. Torchwood: Drive by David Llewellyn uses the back of a cab as its primary setting with Toshiko Sato on her own with the rest of Torchwood Three off on other missions leaving Tosh in charge of saving the world.
Tosh at the start of Drive is essentially a character in a screwball comedy where she loses her papers in the back of a cab, goes to a hospital, rushes back to the cab, and tries to save the world all while being kind of out of it due to alien parasites. The actual alien plot is far less important than what David Llewellyn is doing with the characters in this single hour. Like essentially every other Torchwood release I’ve reviewed here at IndieMacUser, Drive is primarily focused on being a character drama this time with musings on the working class, cabbies, and night life in Cardiff. The entire story is just a means to have some intriguing dialogues between Tosh, cabbie Fawzia, and Lee. There’s also a few other characters that appear in other scenes but they really don’t stand out (except director Lisa Bowerman’s cameo which is always a joy). The entire idea of a random cabbie coming to terms with their life while having the alien underground of Cardiff revealed to them.
Naoko Mori is an excellent lead here, however, she essentially takes a backseat to the human drama around things. She’s essentially there to advise characters through things and inspire others to improve in their day-to-day life. It makes for an interesting perspective on the character as on television until the back half of the second series she kind of didn’t have that much of an identity outside of the one in charge of technology. Mori brings Tosh to life and her interesting relationship with Fawzia, played wonderfully by Suzanne Packer, makes this story a cut above the rest. Lisa Bowerman’s directing makes the listener miss late nights out now that we are a year into a pandemic that has kept us all inside. David Llewellyn’s script is full of several little bits giving Cardiff life and gags that have these excellent points where the story takes time to track down a thief who happens to have alien technology. Drive’s story is one that goes through several tropes, but those tropes are executed incredibly well.
Sadly, this collection of tropes doesn’t actually add up to the sum of their parts, with the entire story really only being elevated by Llewellyn’s excellent character work. Overall, Drive is kind of a tricky release to talk about. The character work is absolutely brilliant and the direction makes it worth it alone, but the plot ends up leaving a lot to be desired. It makes it a weaker Torchwood release, but weak for Torchwood means that it’s good when compared to many of the other Big Finish ranges. 7/10.
Download/buy here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/torchwood-drive-2149