Big Finish begin their fourth series of original audio adventures starring the cast of Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood by bringing back an old enemy from the original series – Captain John Hart (played once again by James Marsters of Buffy fame). Unfortunately the small cast is let down a juvenile script that plays to the lowest end of the humour spectrum.
The story involves Captain John (a rival time agent and former lover to Jack) visiting the dying Captain Harkness and retelling the Torchwood story as if he had been in charge of events rather than Jack. It also shows how the two of them used to be friends. As the story unfolds over the hour it becomes clear that Jack is not as helpless as he seems.
John Barrowman is always wonderful as Captain Jack Harkness and Marsters delivers a wonderfully evil performance as John Hart but it is hard to look past the one-joke formula that permeates this episode with every sketch ending the same way. Writer David Llewellyn has tried to capture the “edgy” vibe of the original series but seems to have forgotten that beyond the sex scenes and swearing there was also a decent story at the heart of the episode. The story peters out to a conclusion that is unsatisfying and more than a little confusing.
This is a shame as, apart from the two leads, there is a great bunch of cameos from other characters (including original cast members Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd, Kai Owens and Tom Price, playing Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones, Rhys Williams and Sgt Andy respectively) who tackle their small roles well despite their limited appearance time. The sound design by Robert Harvey is, as always, excellent, and director Scott Handcock does an admirable job with the limited script that he has.
Included as bonus material are previews of future releases for this season as well as the special episode “Believe” and an interview with James Marsters.
If you are a fan of the original Torchwood TV series but have yet to hear the audios it may be a good idea to ignore this one for a while as it may taint your view of not only what Big Finish are capable of but, more specifically, what they are capable of with the Torchwood legacy.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 4
Distributed by: Big Finish Productions
Released: March 2018
RRP: $18 CD, $8 Digital Download