It’s fair to say that Torchwood Cardiff has had a bit of a rough time from a human resources point of view, and right from the first televised episode staff numbers have been dwindling. By 2016 it’s gotten to a point where the company creche and bring your child to work day are the same thing, and Gwen is really gasping for someone to make a half-decent cup of coffee at the very least. So now, finally… come on down,
PC Sergeant Andy Davidson, it’s time to shine!
It all started like such a normal day for Andy Davidson, with a nice cuppa and trying to plan how to introduce himself to a girl without seeming stalky. But then Norton Falgate quite literally appears from nowhere, and the pressure is on as Andy is to be assessed for Torchwood. There will be danger, goo, aliens, singing and analysis of the Welsh mind – but will there be breaks for tea and the loo?
The latest installment in Big Finish’s second series of Torchwood is only half back to the present day, with the eponymous “ghost” being from 1953 – you know, just in case an insubstantial assessor was too commonplace by itself for Andy! In reality, it gives a neatly different angle that plays on Andy’s natural proclivity for explanation and his (mostly-successful) attempts to avoid swearing.
Strictly speaking, it’s not the first meeting for the two proponents of our (mainly) dualogue and in fact it was as recently as Nightshade where both Tom Price and Samuel Barnett featured. Had I not spotted the names though I’d never have known, and that story is a long way away from Ghost Mission in many ways. Possibly a more familiar teaming for regular listeners of Big Finish is that of James Goss and Scott Handcock writing and directing respectively, and they are at the top of their game here. Playing to the best of the actors’ chemistry – check also the interview after the episode! – the script is frequently hilarious and there were more than a couple of funny looks received as I was apparently randomly breaking into laughter while listening as I walked to work. The humour helps carry a good pace and while some of the pseudoscience is a bit obviously handwaved (albeit often accompanied by a knowing wink from
Rimmer Norton) it helps keep things as breathless as Andy often is. That isn’t at the cost of seriousness when needed though, and some belting twists in the second half nearly had me having to go chasing after my eyebrows shooting near-clear off my forehead.
With a believable and welcome development to Andy as a part of the world of Torchwood, and the memorable new character of Norton, Ghost Mission is great fun and is sure to be an episode to return to and pick up a new strand or two (or play spot the cameo!) later on. I have a feeling that some elements will be returning fairly soon too… well, there’s at least a ghost of a chance!
Torchwood: Ghost Mission is available now from BigFinish.com