On a bleak night in Wales, Hywel Roberts finds himself in need of a hotel before visiting his father who is dying. He is greeted by a courteous and elderly gentleman by the name of Billis Manger. Roberts soon realises that this hotel – nicknamed the Deadbeat Escape – is no ordinary hotel and that Billis has been waiting for him to arrive.
The sixth and final release from this series of monthly Torchwood releases is an enormous disappointment. Although the character of Billis stems from two episodes of the original series and a small number of subsequent books and audios, there is no other character from the Torchwood series, let alone from the group of the same name in the episode. In fact, Torchwood themselves barely rate a mention.
The script by James Goss is enormously padded and drawn out (even for the short duration of the episode) and it all leads to a hugely underwhelming and unsatisfying finale. That being said, it is well-cast with the original actor, Murray Melvin, returning as Billis and playing the role with charm and menace. In the role of Roberts, Gareth Pierce is lumbered with clichéd dialogue but manages to make a decent effort with the limited material he is given. Director Scott Handcock does his best with the paper thin plot to make it work but it is hard to cover over the faults in this.
The sound design by Richard Fox and Lauren Yason is atmospheric and creepy and manages to evoke a little of the atmosphere from the classic Kubrick movie The Shining, however it is not enough to avoid the feeling that this was a chance wasted.
One gets the impression that the writers are intending this episode to serve as a launchpad for the next monthly series (or a larger boxset) but if you have listened to the previous five audios and are expecting a grand finale then you will feel enormously short-changed.
On almost every level this a sad way to end the series, which it must be said, has certainly been a mixed bag in terms of quality. Big Finish might consider that Torchwood will work better in a larger boxset than in the shorter monthly range as they move forward with future plans. Fans of the original series and of the Big Finish audios know what can be achieved when the scripts and casting are right (see previous releases Aliens Among Us and Believe) so let us hope we return to more enjoyable fare the next time we venture to Cardiff.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 3
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: August 2018
RRP: $18 CD, $8 Digital Download