The twenty-first century is where everything changes – but Jack’s getting ready really really early…
Lawks a lordy, Torchwood is back for a second series with Big Finish, and as the end of the nineteenth century nears Jack’s over at Torchwood London for a royal inspection. Unfortunately Torchwood is also due for a visit by an interstellar-ly initiated case of Murphy’s Law, and one that doesn’t stand on ceremony. One thing’s for sure – those are some serious mutton chops…
It’s a great idea to revisit Jack’s earlier years in Torchwood, and a welcome revisit for the organisation’s founder to imprint the values of a distinct time different to those we have seen before. And what greater a character to challenge than the Empress of India herself?
Wisely, The Victorian Age uses its alien threat as its macguffin while keeping focus on the the Captain and the Queen at the heart of the story. There’s a weight of expectation putting such distinctive characters together but writer A. K. Benedict captures them brilliantly – Jack is at his cheeky best and Queen Victoria is recognisably the same woman from Tooth and Claw yet developed realistically and interestingly further.
This is helped by superb performances – something that has been a hallmark of BF Torchwood – and Rowena Cooper is an inspired choice as the Widow of Windsor with a twinkle in her eye. The banter with Jack is immense fun and you get a real sense that everyone involved is having a great time – it’s infectious! (keep on listening at the end of the post-episode interview for a wonderfully surreal moment of Pythonesque hilarity)
The more unique time setting of The Victorian Age makes for a different auditory experience too, which is handled with all Big Finish’s usual aplomb – some fantastic little adjustments to the music by Blair Mowat add to the immersiveness too.
If getting really nitpicky, then the method of having someone experience Torchwood with a chase framework is fairly familiar from parts of the first series and the signposting is very obvious at times, but that’s really missing the wood for the trees. Being pretty much entirely standalone from its predecessors, the frenetic entertainment of The Victorian Age also serves as a palate cleanser for the stories to come in this second series – I’ve no idea where they will be going, but on form it will be where I won’t be expecting them to! Only one thing is certain – the quality bar is a high one!
Torchwood: The Victorian Age is available now from BigFinish.com