“Previously on Torchwood…”
The last time we encountered Gwen and Rhys in BF’s ongoing Torchwood series, it was on the belting cliffhanger to Made You Look. So it was with a little trepidation that I saw Big Finish’s third season was opening with a Rhys story that had no credit for Eve Myles – could the worst really have happened?
Well, you may have guessed by the way the series varies its time of settings, but Visiting Hours is set before that story so entirely avoids the question – a certain Sherlock showrunner would be proud 😉
We pick up during the time in between Children of Earth and Miracle Day, and Rhys on a particularly sensitive mission – visiting his mum in hospital as she recuperates from a hip operation. But things aren’t normal in this hospital, and patients are disappearing… Can Rhys find the threat and save his mum? And more importantly, can he keep his language clean while doing it?
Visiting Hours brings us the welcome return of Nerys Hughes as Rhys’ mum, and it’s immediately apparent that the nearly 10 years since Something Borrowed aired has made no difference at all to the chemistry with Kai Owen. There’s a wonderful ring of truth to the way the pair interact – grumpiness, accidental swears and all – and it’s an utter joy to listen to.
A word on swearing, as there is more than may be normal for BF – it isn’t done for its own sake, and it is entirely true to Rhys’ character for him to try not to swear in front of his mother, which when stressful only makes things worse. Maybe it’s a Welsh thing, or maybe it’s just immature, but for me it’s judged brilliantly for both comic and character effect.
Of course, this all wouldn’t be possible without great work from both Nerys Hughes and Kai Owen, and they really click not just with each other but with the script by David Llewellyn (don’t miss the interview at the end for more fun with them!). Fast, furious and very funny, it’s also impressively visual thanks to Benji Clifford’s sound design and Scott Handcock’s direction which utilise the controlled use of location effectively.
Some may look at the plot as rather lightweight but that would be missing the intention – the pacing is so tight and swift the time really flies by, and there’s a few hooks that can be picked up later in the series.
Ultimately,Visiting Hours is impressively effective both as a palate cleanser to transition from the recent boxsets and to start the latest monthly run with a bang. The third season is off to a great start – bring on next month!
Torchwood: Visiting Hours is available now from BigFinish.com