Exactly a decade after Everything Changed, Big Finish dropped the mother of all anniversary specials with The Torchwood Archive.
Torchwood now exists only as a living computer on an asteroid drifting through the galaxy, or does it? Jeremiah is the first visitor for centuries, but his arrival has a less-than-academic purpose.
Lots of Secrets
Though we follow Jeremiah’s visit, ‘The Torchwood Archive’ is less of a story and more a series of short vignettes that delve deep into the show’s history. Everything from central characters to throwaway lines are brought up. We find out more about the Weevils, the Great Cobalt Pyramid and the “very strange man” who runs Torchwood Two. That’s only a taste of the secrets ‘The Torchwood Archive’ reveals.
James Goss, who has overseen Big Finish’s ‘Torchwood’ series as producer, takes hold of the writing reins this time. He’s done a spectacular job expanding on even the most obscure moment from the TV series and intertwining it with the audio stories. Every revelation works, every character (and there’s a lot of ‘em) is pitch-perfect and the tension builds as this trip to the museum becomes a battle for the future. The ‘Torchwood’ MO is to tackle earth-bound alien threats, but this proves that the show could work as space opera.
There’s only one potential criticism. Focusing a story on Torchwood’s history inevitably makes the lack of any major reference to Owen all the more conspicuous. Despite popping his clogs (twice) on TV, Owen’s relationship with mortality has always been a little complicated. Perhaps he’s still knocking around somewhere and made a visit to remove himself from the archive. This could explain Owen’s absence and opens a potential storyline should he ever return.
This release furthers the Committee’s plot, threaded throughout the first two series of Big Finish’s ‘Torchwood’. However, it doesn’t so much as offer a resolution as exposits a lot of new information. The Committee plot has lacked a distinct throughline in the monthly series since the stories hop around in time. Though the answers are welcome, there’s a sense of “Well, now what?” by the way it deals with the revelations.
A Love Letter to Torchwood fans
‘The Torchwood Archive’ is, quite simply, a love-letter to the fans. James Goss has taken the chance to showcase the breadth of stories that ‘Torchwood’ could (and might) explore. It could easily have been too inward-looking. Instead, it builds on callbacks and feels like a reinvigoration of the series. Fans will come to remember this anniversary special as the story from which a fully-fledged ‘Torchwood’ universe sprang. With Big Finish’s third series due in March, and an epic four-hour box-set next month, it’s clear the story of ‘Torchwood’ never, ever ends.
Blogtor Rating – 9/10
“Welcome, visitor. The Torchwood Archive provides a complete history of our Institute from its distant beginnings to the present day. When we founded our great enterprise in the year of our Lord 1879, we decreed that there should be a record of this achievement, stored at the very furthest limits of the British Empire. By visiting you are spreading that legacy, perhaps out through the skies. For now, I shall bid you a good day and welcome you to the Torchwood Archive. Do, please look around.”
The Torchwood Archive is a forgotten asteroid in the centre of a great war. Jeremiah is its first visitor in many centuries. He’s come to learn something very important. And the ghosts of Torchwood are waiting for him.
Written By: James Goss
Directed By: Scott Handcock
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato), Indira Varma (Suzie Costello), Kai Owen (Rhys Williams), Tom Price (Andy Davidson), Tracy-Ann Oberman (Yvonne Hartman), Richie Campbell (Jeremiah Bash Henderson), Rowena Cooper (Queen Victoria), Julian Lewis Jones (Alex Hopkins), Samuel Barnett(Norton Folgate), David Warner (The Committee), Emma Reeves (Miss Trent),Krystian Godlewski (Maxim Ivanov), Guy Adams (Archie), Geoffrey Breton(Bartender), Lisa Bowerman (Miss Mitford), Laura Doddington (Delilah), Aaron Neil(Mandrake), Kerry Gooderson (Little Girl), Ryan Sampson (Ivan Putin), Damian Lynch (Kieran Frost), Paul Clayton (Mr Colchester)
Produced by James Goss
Script Editor Steve Tribe
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
The Torchwood Archive is available now on CD or download from the Big Finish website.