Lost Souls

Torchwood: Lost SoulsTorchwood leaves Cardiff behind for a flight to Switzerland after a call from Martha Jones. Serving as part of the UNIT contingent at the soon-to-be-activated Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, Martha says that strange occurrences and even unexplained disappearances among personnel are taking place – followed by a cover-up which UNIT doesn’t seem to be able to penetrate. Torchwood gains access to the collider by passing Ianto off as the Welsh ambassador, and Martha gives them a first-hand look at what’s been happening to some of the people who enter the colliider tunnel. But when Gwen and Ianto enter the tunnel for themselves, Ianto’s certain he can hear the voices of the dead – even voices claiming to be Owen, Toshiko and Lisa – while Gwen tries to fight off the same sensation. Unknown to them, however, someone else on site has already been hearing those same “voices of the dead” – and is doing their bidding, regardless of the consequences to the collider experiment or its personnel.

Order the CDwritten by Joseph Lidster
directed by Kate McAll
music by Ben Foster and Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones), Lucy Montgomery (Professor Johnson), Stephen Crichlow (Dr. Oliver Harrington), Mark Meadows (Leon Foiret)

Notes: This first made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on September 10th, 2008, to mark the occasion of the real-life CERN Large Hadron Collider being fully switched on for the first time. Writer Joseph Lidster, who also penned the Torchwood TV episode A Day In The Death, got his started writing audio dramas based on the series from which Torchwood spun off, Doctor Who. In a way, Lost Souls brings Doctor Who-related audio drama back to its very beginnings – the first Doctor Who audio story, Exploration Earth: The Time Machine, was an educational program starring Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen during their TV heyday.

Timeline: As the funerals of Owen and Toshiko (both of whom died in the second season finale Exit Wounds) are mentioned as a recent event, and they’re also the last time that the surviving Torchwood members saw Martha, presumably Lost Souls takes place between Exit Wounds and the Doctor Who fourth season finale The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End, which saw Torchwood and Martha working together again.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: Devised as a semi-educational part of BBC Radio 4’s “Big Bang Day,” celebrating the inauguration of the Large Hadron Collider operating beneath the border of France and Switzerland, Lost Souls actually falls just a little bit short in both its educational remit and as a Torchwood adventure.

Though the story, via dialogue, gets across the basic news soundbite explanation of the LHC, oversimplifying things a bit, but it gets what information is needed for the purposes of the plot across – that’s okay. What I’m not too crazy about is that we then get, by way of Captain Jack, a more mystified version of that information, with Jack claiming at one point that the Higgs Boson particle is “life” itself. (In fact, the theoretical Higgs Boson particle is related to mass, i.e. why everything in the universe has mass.) To characterize the Higgs Boson as “life” is misleading at best, and normally I wouldn’t begrudge anyone in the Doctor Who universe for taking a little bit of dramatic license, except that Lost Souls was commissioned specially for the occasion of a day of talk radio programming aimed at demystifying the LHC.

As far as the Torchwood end of things goes, perhaps due to its afternoon timeslot, the characterizations and script are perhaps a bit watered down from what we’d normally expect from Torchwood – there are a couple of “what the hell”s uttered, and Jack makes one reference to someone’s good looks. Otherwise, it might as well be audio Doctor Who. But then again, I’m not sure that the middle of the afternoon is a reasonable time to expect the usual saucy Torchwood fare. I did, however, find the frequent mentions of Owen and Toshiko’s deaths as a recent event to be interesting. This is an aftermath that we didn’t get to see played out on TV, and it’s interesting – and not completely incidental to the plot either.

It’s not bad – it at least feels like TV Torchwood – but when the thing was conceived as a part of a day meant to enlighten the public about the LHC, I’m not sure it helps to slot real explanations in alongside something that really straddled the fence between science fiction and science fantasy.

Asylum

Torchwood: AsylumA young woman appears out of thin air and plummets into the river; not long afterward, Gwen’s old friend Andy arrests the same young woman for shoplifting, and discovers a strange, futuristic weapon in her possession. Andy calls Gwen and Torchwood in to inspect both the weapon and its bearer. The girl can barely remember her own name, but when her blood tests and other facts come to light, Andy is alarmed that Torchwood wants to take her into custody, despite Gwen’s assurances. Jack and Ianto discover the true use of the “gun” – a device which can jam vehicles, communications and electronics – and Jack is certain that Earth won’t see technology like this for decades at the very least. The girl’s memory gradually returns, and she recovers enough from her ordeal to tell Gwen and Andy about a dystopian future that she barely survived…or perhaps she didn’t survive it after all.

Order the CDwritten by Anita Sullivan
directed by Kate McAll
music by Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Tom Price (PC Andy Davidson), Eric Richards (Freda), Dick Bradnum (Dog owner / Radio ad actor), Matthew Gravelle (Security guard), Sara McGaughey (WPC / Cyclist), Isabel Lewis (Girl)

Notes: This made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on July 1st, 2009, days before the premiere of Children Of Earth on BBC TV.

Timeline: After the audio story Lost Souls, but before the Torchwood: Children Of Earth TV miniseries.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green Continue reading

Golden Age

Torchwood: Golden AgeJack, Gwen and Ianto leave the confines of Cardiff to investigate the disappearance of thousands of people in India. The trail leads to Delhi, where they witness one of the disappearances first-hand, as hapless dockworkers are consumed by some kind of energy net. But even more suspicious is some of the cargo that was being moved – cargo addressed to Captain Jack Harkness. It turns out that Delhi is one of Jack’s old stomping grounds, and the home of Torchwood India, which Jack shut down nearly a century ago. Jack pays a visit to the colonial gentlemen’s club which was once home to the local Torchwood group, and is stunned to find that it’s still in operation – and his old cohort the Duchess is still in charge and hasn’t aged a day. Despite that oddity, nothing immediately links Torchwood India to the mass disappearances in Delhi. But clearly the presence of the team from Cardiff has the Duchess’ staff and servants on edge – their answers are evasive at best. When Gwen and Ianto disappear without a trace, Jack discovers the terrifying truth: the Duchess is so obsessed with clinging to the British Empire’s past that she’ll sacrifice humanity’s future to preserve it.

Order the CDwritten by James Goss
directed by Kate McAll
music by Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Jasmine Hyde (The Duchess), Amerjit Dew (Mr. Daz), Ravin J. Ganatra (Mahajan), Richard Mitchley (Gissing)

Notes: This made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on July 2nd, 2009, days before the premiere of Children Of Earth on BBC TV. Writer James Goss was previously in charge of bbc.co.uk’s FictionLab project, and one of his duties in that job was coordinating with Big Finish for the production of the animated webcast Real Time starring Colin Baker as the sixth Doctor. Torchwood India is said to have retrieved a Yeti sphere from the Himalayas (possibly left over from, or related to, the 1968 Doctor Who story The Abominable Snowmen). At the end of Golden Age, after Torchwood India vanishes, Ianto comments that there’s “nothing at the end of the lane” – an in-joke on the earliest working title for the very first episode of Doctor Who, which was eventually broadcast under the title An Unearthly Child.

Timeline: After the audio story Asylum, and before both the audio story The Dead Line and the Torchwood: Children Of Earth TV miniseries.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green

Review: A rock-solid Torchwood adventure that would’ve done the TV series proud, Golden Age is a rare Torchwood gem: it exposes some of Jack’s past and actually pays it off within the same story in a way that’s integral to the narrative. It returns to the idea of Torchwood as a corrupted organization, long before the fall of the arrogant modern-day Torchwood at Canary Wharf (or, indeed, in Children Of Earth), and at the same time comments – uncompromisingly – on the subject of British imperial colonialism.

The guest cast is great across the board. At first I was a bit put off at the slightly dizzy reading of the Duchess character, until I finally realized that it was perfectly appropriate – the woman has completely flipped. Despite the fact that this is clearly Jack’s story, Golden Age has interesting moments for both Gwen and Ianto as well; the supporting characters are well fleshed-out too.

If there’s one gigantic glaring flaw to Golden Age, it’s this: the moment you realize the nature of the story’s big threat, you know exactly how it can be, if not defeated, then at least slowed down enough for a solution to be found. The story is resolved in a manner very similar to season 1’s End Of Days; the moment that anything that feeds on life itself is revealed to be the big bad, it’s a given that Captain Jack’s inexhaustible supply of life force will save the day. But aside from the painfully obvious resolution, Golden Age is one of the better Torchwood radio adventures.

The Dead Line

Torchwood: The Dead LineA growing number of people are ending up in Cardiff’s hospitals, trapped in a trancelike comatose state. These victims all have one thing in common: they answered a random phone call on a vintage business phone. While Jack can understand retro chic, he doesn’t understand how the outdated phones could be having this effect. A trace reveals that the same number was responsible for all of the victims to date. Jack calls the number and gets no answer, but when he gets a call back from that number and answers the phone, he joins the ranks of the victims. Ianto and Gwen call on the expertise of an old flame of Jack’s, neurologist Stella Courtney. She’s familiar with Jack and with Torchwood, but hasn’t been involved with either since the 1970s. With Rhys helping out, Gwen tries to track down more information on the phones responsible for the wave of incidents. Ianto stays at Jack’s bedside while Dr. Courtney tries to learn more by watching Jack’s brainwaves. Torchwood needs to work fast, because the effects are soon no longer limited to a specific set of 30-year-old telephones…

Order the CDwritten by Phil Ford
directed by Kate McAll
music by Murray Gold

Cast: John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto Jones), Kai Owen (Rhys), Dona Croll (Stella), Eiry Thomas (Jan), Matthew Gravelle (Bob), Brendan Charleson (Tyler)

Notes: This made-for-audio Torchwood adventure was produced by BBC Radio 4 for broadcast on July 3rd, 2009, days before the premiere of Children Of Earth on BBC TV. The Dead Line was written specifically to accomodate an extremely tight recording schedule for John Barrowman, hence Jack’s absence from much of the story. Phil Ford has scripted TV adventures for both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Timeline: After the audio story Golden Age, and before the Torchwood: Children Of Earth TV miniseries.

LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green Continue reading

  • The shows, movies and other stories covered here, and all related characters and placenames, are the property of the originators of the respective intellectual properties. This site is not intended to infringe upon the rightsholders' copyright in any way. theLogBook.com makes no attempt - in using the names described herein - to supercede the copyrights of the rightsholders, nor is any of this information officially sanctioned, licensed, or endorsed by the shows' creators, writers or producers.