The latest in Torchwood’s third audio series takes us out of Cardiff and into the City of Angels. After a spate of disappearances showing signs of alien involvement, Torchwood’s LA division is called in to crack the case.
YA author Juno Dawson makes her Big Finish debut with The Dollhouse and has clearly had fun with it. This story is unique in Torchwood’s audio outings for having no TV characters or direct connection to the Cardiff team. With different characters, setting and different time period, all bets are off with how this Torchwood team will behave. When a trio of red-blooded Americans are tasked with protecting a now-defunct British empire, sparks will fly.
Despite how removed this story is from Torchwood’s standard fare, the release feels right at home in the series. Helped in no small part by Blair Mowat’s excellent job jiving the Torchwood theme tune with a funky Seventies groove. Mowat’s contributed music to almost every Torchwood release to date so he knows how to inject Torchwood into any genre. Seriously, the scene transition music alone is worth the price of admission.
Good Morning, Charlie
With three female leads, the fact that The Dollhouse is a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ pastiche can hardly escape notice. Though we meet Marlow, Charley and Gabi are in the midst of an assignment, Dawson has balanced the story really well. There’s plenty of time spent establishing their personalities, motivations and relationships with one another. That’s no small feat given the limited time involved, especially given the amount of action taking place. Lisa Bowerman deserves a lot of credit as the director for merging action scenes with dialogue so expertly.
Though newcomers to Big Finish, the main cast are all seasoned performers so of course, they do an excellent job. It’s hard to single any of them out, but it can’t be ignored that Kelly-Anne Lyons has the most to do as Charley. Lyons has to run the biggest range of emotions and never does it sound like she’s not giving her all. I would have liked to see a bit more friction between the trio and their mysterious leader at the end of a phone. It would give the ending a lot more context.
When I reviewed The Torchwood Archive, I suggested that it was a patchwork series of backdoor pilots for future spin-offs. Turns out I wasn’t giving Big Finish enough credit. With the final story announced, series three will be the first run of Torchwood stories without Jack or Gwen. But until schedules can clear, it’s obvious Big Finish have plenty of ideas for telling these stories in new ways.
The Dollhouse merges action and character beautifully and is a rare bit of fun in the often dark Torchwood. With a strong cast, who I hope we’ll see again, it’s a new take on Torchwood that the series needs.
Blogtor Rating – 10/10
Torchwood: The Dollhouse is available to buy now from the Big Finish website.
1970s Los Angeles – the city of angels and broken dreams. Three remarkable women keep the West Coast safe from alien attacks – they are Torchwood, Los Angeles.
So many young girls come to this city hoping for something better. For some, luck is just around the corner. For others that golden ticket never arrives and they just fade away.
But it’s not that simple. Everyone has a value to someone, and Torchwood are about to discover Hollywood’s darkest secret.
Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners.
Written By: Juno Dawson
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Laila Pyne (Marlow Sweet), Kelly-Anne Lyons (Charley Du Bujeau), Ajjaz Awad (Gabi Martinez), Stuart Milligan (Don Donohue), Eve Webster (Valerie Fox), David Menkin (Brad), Guy Adams (Mr Beamish). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer James Goss
Script Editor Steve Tribe
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs