Having celebrated its tenth-anniversary last month, Torchwood returns for an ambitious box-set adventure from Big Finish. A medical trial gone awry puts the population of Cardiff at the brink of extinction. Gwen and Ianto struggle to contain it while Jack’s past comes back to haunt him, literally, in ‘Torchwood: Outbreak’.
Since this two-hour story occurs between series two and three of Torchwood’s television days, it benefits from the reduced cast. As well as the trio of Jack, Ianto and Gwen, both Rhys and Andy get their own mini-adventures. Though having the original team would be great, following even more characters would have muddled a story that has finely balanced every plot thread. The run-time is split across three episodes, each penned by a writer who has contributed to the monthly range. This gives it a distinct beginning, middle and end for the plot though the tone does vary between episodes.
Stand Out Moment
The stand-out moment of the story has to be episode two, which takes place almost entirely in the Torchwood hub. Not only is it one of John Barrowman’s best performances as Captain Jack, it uses the claustrophobic setting to full effect. We see sides of Jack that have never been addressed on TV or audio so making us question our understanding of the character in a bottle episode was a masterstroke for tension.
Though you can enjoy ‘Outbreak’ without having heard the monthly releases, it certainly doesn’t hurt. One pivotal character in part two of the story was introduced in ‘Ghost Mission’ and reappeared in ‘The Torchwood Archive’. They explain this character’s background, but hearing him in earlier adventures will give you a handle on this slightly overbearing character. That said, having thrived under two-hander stories, including this third wheel feels an unnecessary complication to the Jack/Ianto scenes. Since Gwen all but disappears in episode two, pairing her off with this character and leaving Jack and Ianto to their story may have redressed the balance.
As well as the two-hour play, the release also comes with ‘The Torchwood Tapes’ – a one-hour roundtable featuring the cast, the writers and Torchwood’s creator Russell T Davies. The cast’s natural chemistry, stories from filming, behind-the-scenes tidbits and love for the series is an excellent treat for fans.
The Spirit of Torchwood
With Big Finish having wholeheartedly grasped the spirit of Torchwood, ‘Outbreak’ feels like the natural progression of the story. Though the Torchwood that Gwen’s rebuilding plays well to episodic stories, full-scale team adventures fit Big Finish’s box-set format beautifully. Last month’s ‘The Torchwood Archive’ set the scene for many Torchwood spin-offs and ‘Outbreak’ feels like the first step. And it’s a terrific one.
‘Torchwood: Outbreak’ is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.
Blogtor Rating – 8/10
“First they know you, then you love, then you kill…”
Incubation – Prodromal – Invasion
A medical trial’s gone terribly wrong, and one of the test subjects is loose on the streets of Cardiff. Within hours a virus is raging out of control and the bodies start piling up.
The Government scrambles to control the outbreak, but isn’t too keen on anyone finding out the dark history of the virus. Captain Jack Harkness has encountered the infection before and knows that something alien is hiding inside it.
With the city sealed off and murderous mobs rampaging through the streets, Torchwood has to save something even more important than the human race.
Written By: Guy Adams, Emma Reeves & AK Benedict
Directed By: Scott Handcock
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Kai Owen (Rhys Williams), Tom Price (PC Andy Davidson), Marilyn Le Conte (Frances Godalming), Simon Ludders (Luke Palmer), Samuel Barnett (Norton Folgate), Melanie Stevens (Dr. Larsen), Sara Lloyd (Emilia Martin), Steffan Rhodri (Minister), Ruth Lloyd (Paramedic), Matthew Gravelle (Doctor), Rhys Ap Trefor (Road Block Captain), Keiron Self (Bernie), Samuel Harris (Young Man)
Produced by James Goss
Script edited by Scott Handcock
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs