Owen Harper is a cocky Torchwood agent who happens to be dead. Andy Davidson is an enthusiastic police constable with big dreams. Together, they uncover a conspiracy that puts them at the mercy of grotesque alien cult. Only teamwork will get them out of this jam.
If this sounds familiar, you may be thinking of the superb Ghost Mission, also written by James Goss. Granted, the setup sounds similar, but Corpse Day does more than enough differently to dispel comparisons. The only thing Owen Harper and Norton Folgate have in common is their death certificates.
Fans of the original TV series will be excited to hear the return of Burn Gorman, reprising his role as Dr. Owen Harper. Not least because it means that all five original cast members have now reprised their role with Big Finish. Gorman slips back into Owen effortlessly, starting off as the brash jack-the-lad we remember. Before long, Gorman gets his hands on Owen’s more ruminative side thanks to some stellar dialogue from Goss. While it starts off with Owen walking all over Andy, the pairing of Gorman and Tom Price works surprisingly well. Though they never met on TV, you can hear a friendship forming that would have been nice to see onscreen.
A Great Perhaps
Owen’s a bit of a special case in Torchwood. Arguably, his character only became interesting during his walking corpse arc. It should come as no surprise that this was the time Goss decided to plumb for Owen’s first audio outing. Big Finish have done their research and remembered that Owen gradually came to a zen-like acceptance of his condition. This element gets played up nicely with some comedic moments as Owen tries to live vicariously through Andy. But at the same time, he’s not pining after a shag or giving in to cheap nihilism the whole run-time. It also creates a clever, unexpected rift in attitudes between the pair when the nature of the threat is revealed.
The Dark at the End
It’s no secret Torchwood is where the darker elements of the Whoniverse are found; Goss has taken that to heart. A plot that starts as a buddy cop knockabout suddenly warps into a visceral horror story. A heady mixture of audio-gore and psychological dread makes this a really memorable story. Admittedly this does create a bit of a sudden tonal shift but it works. Corpse Day features some harrowing scenes that make even the darkest TV Torchwood episode look like a family picnic. It’s an unsettling time but in the best possible way.
Despite its uneven tone, Corpse Day is another strong entry in Torchwood’s audio run. James Goss clearly has a good handle on Owen’s character and ensured his scenes with Andy steered clear of tropes. In possibly Torchwood’s darkest story yet, Big Finish have produced an absolute must-listen.
Blogtor Rating – 7/10
Torchwood: Corpse Day is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.
Glynn Lewis is just putting up a spice rack when there’s a knock at the door. A knock that will bring a brutal end to his perfect family.
PC Andy is very excited. It’s Corpse Day – the day when the local constabulary get help on dead cases from Torchwood. This year, he’s volunteered to act as liaison, and he knows he’s going to have a brilliant time.
For Dr Owen Harper, today’s just like any other. There’ll be bloodshed, screaming and murder. At the end of it all, he doesn’t care. After all, life’s just for the living, and he’s long dead.
Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners (they’re not kidding)
Written By: James Goss
Directed By: Scott Handcock
Burn Gorman (Owen Harper), Tom Price (Andy Davidson), Hannah Maddox (Angela), Alex Tregear (Jan), Nigel Betts (Glynn), Oliver Mason (Sonny), Rhian Blundell (Marta), Aly Cruickshank (Desk Sergeant), Charlotte O’Leary (Waitress)
Producer James Goss
Script Editor Steve Tribe
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs