Expectant is a valiant attempt at some lighter stories after a number of darker releases.
Who do you trust to give birth to the next heir of your Empire when you cannot trust anyone else to do it? Apparently, it is Jack Harkness, who finds himself heavily pregnant in Cardiff while an alien fleet circles overhead waiting to kill the newborn. It is all a bit too frightful for the accompanying nursemaid, Jonty, who wants Jack to relax. Also helping him is trusty Torchwood agent, Ianto Jones. To try and evade this horde, they seek refuge at a wellness clinic. It turns out to not be their most inspired idea…
This release in the monthly Torchwood range, written by Xanna Eve Chown, seems to rely very heavily on the comedic skills of John Barrowman (once again in great form as Jack Harkness). Unfortunately a lot of the humour derives from taking cheap jabs along the lines of “How would a man react to pregnancy?” and asking Barrowman to go over the top. If you think of every classic pregnancy trope – mood swings, hunger pangs, etc. – you will find them all here.
If the cheap gags were not bad enough, we have a nursemaid who spends the whole time either fretting over Jack’s behaviour or referring to himself in the third person. Memo to all screenwriters: characters that refer to themselves only in the third person make for a very annoying character! Aaron Anthony tries his level best to not join Barrowman in the over-the-top stakes but comes across as a little whiny and one dimensional. Gareth David-Lloyd fares much better as Ianto Jones and his scenes with Jack are wonderful (but too few).
The remaining cast of Catherine Ayers (Paula), Meryn Davis (Resident), Jessica Hayles (Brigadier), and Emily John (Resident) all do their small roles effectively given the limited material they have to work with.
Director Scott Handcock seems to have completely misread the comedy in the script and how to play it – unusual for such an experienced hand in the audio medium who has consistently done stellar work with less than stellar material. Sound and music by Richard Fox and Blair Mowat respectively is well done and effective in creating and maintaining the right mood. There is a small interview with some of the cast and a deleted scene that should have remained on the cutting room floor included as a bonus.
Expectant is a valiant attempt at some lighter stories after a number of darker releases. Jack Harkness has not been particularly served well in recent years with the monthly range and this release does little to change that view. Kudos must be given to Big Finish for attempting something along these lines and utilising the wonderful skills of John Barrowman but unfortunately, this particular attempt is a bit of a misfire.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: December 2019
Approx RRP: $19 CD, $8 Digital Download