Torchwood – music by Ben Foster & Murray Gold

Torchwood - music by Ben Foster & Murray GoldFeaturing the darker, moodier music of Doctor Who’s darker, moodier and decidedly more “adult” spinoff, the Torchwood soundtrack album is full of surprises, but some listeners may be dismayed to find that part of the surprise is what isn’t on it.

From the beginning, Torchwood’s musical score has been the work of two composers, Doctor Who maestro Murray Gold and Ben Foster, who has served as his orchestrator for several years. Foster steps into the limelight here, as the Torchwood CD concentrates almost entirely on his work. However, what this means is that some of the most recognizable pieces of music associated with Torchwood are missing from the album. Many of Gold’s themes, established in the series premiere, were reused throughout season one, and they’re absent from the album, including the drum beat lead-in to the opening teaser (over which John Barrowman explains the show’s premise), and an energetic, pulsating theme that often accompanied the appearance of the team’s trademark black Land Rover in season one. There’s one suite of music from the premiere episode, Everything Changes, and it’s hardly the most striking music from that episode.

What is on the CD is no slouch, mind you; there isn’t anything that’s so bad that I’m reaching for the skip track button. But sometimes it all seems to blend together – there are lengthy stretches of fairly similar music that reach across several tracks. There are some standout cues: “Sleeper”, “Look Right, Then Leave” and the one-two punch of “Jack Joins Torchwood” and “Captain Jack’s Theme” are action-oriented highlights. The best of the lower-key fare includes “Out Of Time”, “Owen’s Theme” and the eerie back-tracked piano work on “Pearl And The Ghost Maker.” Some pieces, like “Into The Hub”, straddle the fence between gentler orchestral music and the show’s trademark electro-inspired action music. A nicely expanded version of the Torchwood theme (which is almost painfully short on TV) rounds out the collection.

Compositionally, there are some incredibly clever things about the music from Torchwood – in the track “Owen Fights Death”, it’s possible to hear how the themes for the various characters are in a common key, making it possible to interweave the themes for Jack and Owen in this track, or the themes for Owen and Toshiko in “Goodbyes”. Toshiko’s theme also finds its way into the extended version of the show’s main theme.

3 out of 4I can understand that it vastly simplifies things to limit an album to one composer almost exclusively. But the problem here is that there are memorable major themes that have been left out in the cold. Casual fans may not notice…but then again, how many truly casual fans will bother to pick up the soundtrack? Perhaps some of Gold’s compositions should be piggybacked onto a future Doctor Who soundtrack release (particularly the rumored “best of the first four seasons’ music that didn’t make it onto any of the other CDs” album that, like the TARDIS, may or may not materialize), or offered as download-only pieces; without his work from the first season, as nice as Foster’s music is, the Torchwood CD just seems to be missing something.

Order this CD

  1. Everything Changes (1:24)
  2. The Chase (3:28)
  3. Ghosts (2:00)
  4. Sleepers, Awake! (1:14)
  5. Toshiko And Tommy (3:09)
  6. Into The Hub (2:08)
  7. The Mission (2:36)
  8. Gray’s Theme (2:45)
  9. Jack’s Love Theme (1:53)
  10. Another Day, Another Death (2:48)
  11. Look Right, Then Leave (2:50)
  12. Welcome To Planet Earth (1:54)
  13. The Plot (3:25)
  14. Out Of Time (1:31)
  15. The Death Of Dr. Owen Harper (2:13)
  16. King Of The Weevils (4:12)
  17. Owen Fights Death (1:52)
  18. The Woman On The Roof (2:26)
  19. Owen’s Theme (3:13)
  20. Pearl And The Ghostmaker (2:28)
  21. Flat Holm Island (2:12)
  22. A Boy Called Jonah (4:55)
  23. Toshiko Sato: Betrayal And Redemption (3:49)
  24. Gwen And Rhys (1:15)
  25. Jack Joins Torchwood (1:37)
  26. Captain Jack’s Theme (3:20)
  27. I Believe In Him (1:34)
  28. Memories Of Gray (2:32)
  29. Goodbyes (2:23)
  30. The Death Of Toshiko (2:23)
  31. The End Is Where We Start From (2:28)
  32. Torchwood Theme (1:36)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 79:33