James Goss’ clever script draws on some of the best elements of Torchwood.
Gwen Cooper is doing some freelance work for a drill company called Drillpak who have set up some mining operations in a little Welsh village called Glynteg. When she arrives she finds a bleak, depressing village, ravaged by its mining past. When she investigates further, it appears as though the villagers are all turning into zombie-like creatures courtesy of a pathogen in the water. It also appears as though the only way to fight off this pathogen is to stay totally drunk.
James Goss’ clever script draws on some of the best elements of Torchwood. The original show never shied away from making statements about what we are doing to the planet or how we are ruining it through our own misuse. In this adventure we find Cooper battling man-made demons rather than an alien influence. It is a clever device that is somewhat tainted by the need for zombie creatures and a baddie from within the corporation who wants to watch the village turn to dust. It also suffers in that it is a script that is, perhaps, a little too long to be as totally effective as it could be. At over an hour long, this felt like it needed about fifteen minutes shaved off the running time.
There is also no doubt that Eve Myles’ performance as the inebriated Gwen Cooper is one of the absolute highlights of the Torchwood monthly range. She is clearly having an absolute ball with the wonderful dialogue written for her and she treads the fine line between being realistically drunk and over-the-top drunk. A word of warning – there is probably more coarse language in this episode alone than just about every other Torchwood release.
Myles is ably supported by the remaining cast which includes a wonderful turn by Omar Austin as activist Martyn who partners with Cooper for this adventure. He brings some excellent arguments against Cooper’s ideas (and her loosened tongue) and his character never feels clichéd at all. Dick Bradnum (Drillpak Manager), Helen Griffin (Rhian), and Kezrena James (Elwyn) round out the small ensemble effectively.
Director Scott Handcock weaves his deft hands over the material and keeps the suspense perfect throughout, aided once again by the always exceptional sound and music mixes by Richard Fox and Blair Mowat respectively.
An added interview with the cast and writers rounds out this release and provides some wonderful insights into the making of this story.
This may not be the best of this current series in the monthly range but it will entertain fans of Gwen Cooper and those who enjoy more grounded sci-fi.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: October 2019
Approx RRP: $19 CD, $8 Digital Download