Written by David Llewellyn
Starring John Barrowman and Steven Cree
Excuse me while I load my superlative gun with bullets to fire at Uncanny Valley – the latest Torchwood audio adventure from Big Finish. David Llewellyn’s remarkable script, like that in episode one of this series, takes us back to the style and tone of early Torchwood television episodes; it’s dark, sexy and disturbing and most definitely aimed at a more adult audience than a family one.
Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) is back for the first time since episode one, The Conspiracy, and he’s come calling at the remote Welsh castle of reclusive billionaire Neil Redmond (Steven Cree). But Neil is also appearing live on TV from a weapons fair in St Petersburg. How can this be and what links does Neil Redmond have to The Committee, which Jack is still investigating?
Uncanny Valley is essentially a three-hander played by two actors. Jack listens as Neil Redmond tells the tale of his recovery from a devastating car crash and his subsequent buy-out of a company that makes “living dolls”, including “NJ” an exact replica of Redmond before the crash. Jack is essentially in the passenger seat here, firing questions and listening as Steven Cree puts in two very impressive performances as Redmond and his “living doll”, NJ. And it’s the relationship between these two – original and clone – that’s the source of the darkness and disturbing sexiness at the heart of this episode.
Redmond recalls how he had to spend two years “training” NJ to become more human before unleashing him on the world, while Redmond observes via a live stream. But not everything is done remotely and we see the quite shocking reality of what can happen to a man when he’s left for too long with only himself for company. It’s of note that of all the art in Redmond’s gallery, NJ is particularly impressed by a painting of Narcissus.
Jack, as we know, is pretty unshockable and as he quite gently leads Redmond to recognise the true nature of NJ, NJ reveals more about his connection to The Committee.
It will be for Gwen Cooper to pick up the strands of the investigation in the next instalment of this series and we can only hope that the standard remains as astonishingly high as it is in this episode.
Blogtor rating 10/10
Torchwood – Uncanny Valley is out now and available to buy from Big Finish