“The twenty first century is when it all changes. And Ianto Jones is ready.” Oh, joy unbounded, Ianto Jones is back! And what a return it is.
Here’s a question. You’re the sole survivor on a crashing spaceship and your phone rings. Who would be the last, and I mean the very last, person you’d want at the other end? A cold caller selling accident insurance would be pretty high on that list, I expect. Yet, this is the position Ianto Jones finds himself in at the start of Fall To Earth, the second of Big Finish’s excellent new Torchwood series.
Ianto is working on unofficial undercover duty as the butler on board the Sky Puncher, the first private space flight, which is all set to crash. He’s injured and the remaining passengers and crew are all apparently dead, when call centre agent Zeynep calls to ask if he’s recently been involved in an accident. Um…
Ianto must keep Zeynep on the line so that she can help him guide the Sky Puncher safely back to Earth and work out why the spaceship was crashing in the first place, but they’re tangled in the crazed bureaucracy of the call centre processes and procedures. There is so much that is brilliantly quotable in Fall To Earth; writer James Goss’s script is a thing of absolute beauty here and the dialogue is sublime. Everyone’s favourite tea boy/administrator is forced into buying increasingly ludicrous insurance products in order to keep talking to Zeynep, even declaring his gashed leg as a pre-existing condition.
As the two-hander plays out, Ianto veers from elation to despair with dizzying regularity, while Zeynep abandons her call centre automaton-mode to reveal a selfless, compassionate and resourceful woman. Gareth David-Lloyd and Lisa Zahra are a magnificent double act here as the tale unfolds and the two realise just what caused the ship to fall and exactly where it will crash and the dreadful fallout from that.
It’s hard not to throw superlatives at this adventure. The story arc plays out beautifully under Scott Handcock’s sure direction, from the very funny early scenes, to the marvellously perilous middle, and on to the quieter, more sombre ending as the Sky Puncher gets closer to the Earth. Ianto and Zeynep muse on their roles as “the little people” and then prove just what little people can be capable of. Blair Mowat’s score complements the action exquisitely.
As a ‘Welcome Back’ for a much loved character, it doesn’t get much better than Fall To Earth and David-Lloyd’s portrayal shows us just why people still leave their knickers and other mementoes at Ianto’s shrine in Cardiff years after the character was killed off on television.
Fall To Earth works superbly as a stand-alone episode, but there are important threads from the wider Big Finish Torchwood series introduced and we discover a link to the “Eribus” conspiracy that Jack was investigating in episode one [review HERE]. We can only file these things away (neatly, mind!) and wait to see how the wider tale plays out.
BLOGTOR RATING 10/10
Thanks to Big Finish