Written by Guy Adams
Starring Eve Myles and Richard Nichols
With Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) back in the driving seat in More Than This, Big Finish have given us a completely satisfying conclusion to the first of their new series of Torchwood adventures.
Forgotten Lives, Gwen Cooper’s last outing in this series, ended with our intrepid heroine vowing to start up Torchwood again. What she didn’t imagine was having to face the bureaucracy of Cardiff Council’s Planning Department and Planning Officer, Roger Pugh (Richard Nichols), who would prefer to see the space Gwen needs to re-build Torchwood put to use for essential city car parking. Frustrated, Gwen takes Roger on a day he will surely never forget to see the work that Torchwood does to keep the Earth safe from alien menaces.
It would be easy to make Council Officer Roger a stereotypical bureaucrat, but Guy Adams has given us a much more well-rounded script than that. As Roger sits at his wife’s grave recounting the day’s events, it’s clear that he is a complex and very sympathetic character. Credit must be given to Richared Nichols for imbuing Roger with warmth and sincerity in a performance where – similar to the Jack/Neil Redmond dynamic in UncannyValley – the would-be secondary character is the main focus of the story.
Gwen and Roger gad about the city on a day when there’s rather of lot of alien chasing to be done. There’s a Baratavish sexually menacing a mother and her children in a high-rise flat to be dealt with and a coach and horses to be sent back to their own time using Gwen’s handy temporal anchor. Roger is already shaken before the duo head off to an art gallery and then the ultimate alien battle in the University, where Cardiff’s rift threatens the whole world.
As you’d expect, Gwen Cooper is tough as hell and a real fighter. But it’s Roger who is truly extraordinary here as he questions what comes after life. And death. And whether Torchwood is the answer or the problem. Underpinning all of the action, there are quiet moments of reflection and these are the truly remarkable parts of this adventure.
While this episode is a two-hander, there is a definite third element in the exceptional sound effects for More Than This. There are times when audio is the most perfect medium for an adventure, and More Than This is a perfect example of this. As the soundscape builds around the action, the listerer’s imagination is ramped up and you can completely immerse yourself in Guy Adams’s depiction of aliens and the Universe as the tale unfolds. This is really magical storytelling.
And so as we look back on the first Big Finish series of Torchwood (the second comes hot on its heels in March), I can state with certainlty that this is a Torchwood that fans deserve.
Blogtor rating 9/10
Torchwood – More Than This is out now and available to buy from Big Finish.