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

Review: Without the obligation to be even semi-educational (as was the case with Lost Souls), all Asylum has to do is tell its story. It turns out to be a more interesting story than I initially gave it credit for, and it also does something that the TV series just hasn’t had the time to do: flesh out PC Andy, a character who’s been on the periphery of the Torchwood mythology from the first television episode.

In some respects, rather surprisingly, this is Andy’s story. It shows an interesting progression: in the early episodes of the TV series, Gwen was the voice of reason, calm, and – to put it bluntly – human rights. Here, Gwen’s grown more accustomed to the Torchwood method, and Andy is thrust into the role of the voice of reason. Gwen sympathizes with him, and yet still steamrolled Andy’s judgement calls through much of the story. (Jack, on the other hand, is less sympathetic: “If we retcon him now, will he still be able to drive?”) Tom Price rises to the challenge, and it’s a nice companion to his expanded role in the final episode of Children Of Earth – he’s a fully fleshed-out character rather than being Gwen’s bumbling old partner who’s out of the loop when it comes to Torchwood.

It’s good that PC Andy comes across so well in Asylum, because somehow, the regulars just seem “off” somehow. Part of it is the script – Jack is written almost as a caricature of himself – and part of it is the performance. Eve Myles sounds a little unnatural here, when compared to the usual TV portrayal of Gwen; I don’t know if the actress is choosing to over-enunciate, or if a director or producer is trying to steer her a bit closer to received pronunciation, but at times it almost doesn’t sound like her. The regular who comes off most naturally is Ianto – who, naturally, doesn’t get that much story time.

Overall, though, it’s a good story, and if one can get around a few oddly stilted performances among the regular cast, it’s a nice showcase for a character who seldom figures into the TV series and a decent stand-alone story.

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