It’s hard to believe that it’s already 10 years since Torchwood first hit TV, perhaps due in no small part to John Barrowman’s lack of aging. Like its parent show, it has worked in several guises across different media in that time, most recently having two six-episode seasons on Big Finish. And therein lies the challenge of celebrating it – with such a diversity of format (and not a particularly high character survival rate!) how do you reflect it all?
Cue Big Finish stepping forward, of course, and the bumper 2-hour The Torchwood Archive… but is this an archive worth digging in to?
Fittingly, the story takes place well into the future – the title refers to an asteroid-based facility storing the whole computerised history of the then-inactive Torchwood. Hidden away and neglected during the ongoing war between humanity and their Enemy, when Jeremiah arrives he is the first visitor in several hundred years. But it isn’t just a history lesson that he wants…
The setting gives a useful storytelling method as Jeremiah converses with interface avatars appearing as past Torchwood operatives, and takes a journey through incidents spanning from Queen Victoria herself up to the latter part of the 21st century. This allows for appearances for characters dead and alive and a sizeable cast that don’t end up falling over each other or vying for time. If that sounds a little like the audio drama version of a sitcom clipshow episode, it really isn’t – James Goss’ razor-sharp script defly uses the scenarios to add context and depth to the stories there before, and the more familiar you are (particularly with the BF stories) then the more there is to gain. It’s not so much that it wouldn’t make any sense if this was your first time with BF Torchwood, but the way that pieces slot together do give a definite benefit. It feels like it’s been planned for a long time, and for those who may have felt frustrated with some of the dangling threads in the arcs from the audios then rejoice, as there are real and unequivocal answers here. Yes, even including where the C word is involved – no, not coffee… and definitely not THAT!
Scott Handcock is on great form directing, and with Steve Foxon’s evocative sound design and more impressive work by Blair Mowat (I especially loved the chiptune take on the Torchwood theme!) the visual pictures painted are excellently vivid. The cast are up to the task too, and the chemistry between characters is as good as ever.
The Torchwood Archive isn’t purely a traipse down memory lane, and there are some nice twists in store. It’s a worthy celebration of the past 10 years, and shows potential for the future as well. One thing is for sure – Torchwood is in very good hands!
The Torchwood Archive is available now from BigFinish.com