Oh yes, Jack is back! I’m a bit late catching the recently released first episode of Big Finish’s new Torchwood series, and there’s a tinge of nervousness approaching it given the high standard of other ranges – can it stand by itself with a similar level of quality?
It doesn’t take long to get an answer (if the tagline next to the BF logo wasn’t telling in itself), with a cracking evolution of the Torchwood theme by Blair Mowat that feels the same kind of natural progression as a new series – which this is of course!
So to the story, and it’s in with both feet as Captain Jack investigates ex-journalist/news anchor George Wilson (John Sessions) who tells of a group called the Committee running the world behind the scenes. Beyond the Bilderbergs, and beyond human, the Committee has plans that Jack wants to find out – or is it an invention born of paranoia? It immediately and completely feels pure Torchwood, and the script by David Llewelyn cracks along at an energetic pace without leaving the listener behind.
The episode is narrated in a way by Captain Jack in a way not completely dissimilar to the Companion Chronicles, though only in the linking aspects as while there are only four voice roles all are cast. John Barrowman is as ebullient as ever and clearly relishes slipping back into the Harkness greatcoat, and Sarah Ovens (The Highest Science) as Wilson’s daughter Kate and Dan Bottomley (The Eye of Horus) as conspiracy vlogger Sam are naturally believable. As for John Sessions, he was impressive as Gus in Mummy On The Orient Express but is a revelation here, helping create a flawed, layered and persuasive Wilson who simply crackles in scenes shared with Jack. Finding out from the extras the difference in production makes it all the more jawdropping, credit is due for the impressive work by director Scott Handcock.
The use of music is good and textures very similarly to televised Torchwood, and as usual sound design is immersive. There were a couple of cross-cuts where I was slightly caught out in the lack of transition other than a moment of quiet, but I think I am rather used to the style of the Main Ranges and it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story. It’s worth being aware though, that this is very much the first part of a series, and ends with no doubt of that – but after listening to this first episode I’m completely gripped so there would be no chance of not listening to the rest over the coming months!
Welcome home Torchwood, Big Finish suits you brilliantly – let’s hope you’re here for a long time to come!
Torchwood: The Conspiracy is available now from BigFinish.com