Once again I’m astounded by the creative sci-fi writing for British television. I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who from way back. Get past the what are now, and even then, considered cheesy special effects, and you find some very smart writing in these series. When the Doctor Who TV series experienced a rebirth back in 2005 I was wary. I was afraid they would not be able to keep up with my image of Doctor Who, I was a huge fan of Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor. How could they keep up with the humor and the fun in space and time travel? Well only recently I decided to give it a try. I had six seasons to watch and I watched them all. I was astounded. The writing was excellent and all of the new doctors kept the tradition alive. David Tennant was my favorite of the New Doctors, since he was the closest to what Tom Baker brought to the character.
The cool thing about the new series was that it launched two spin-off series. One was aired on CBBC (the children’s portion of BBC tv), “The Sarah Jane Adventures.” This series focused on the longtime Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith. The adventures were more of a live action Scooby Doo series (sans semi-talking dog, unless you count K-9) It was a kids show but the Doctor made a couple of appearances and the aliens were all ones that were experienced on Doctor Who. There was even a crossover episode of Doctor Who which featured Sarah and her alien hunting crew along with the crew of the other spin-off, “Torchwood.”
This second spin-off series, “Torchwood,” was one that really got my attention. “Torchwood,” is a series about alien hunters that were established by Queen Victoria in 1879. The Doctor saved the Queen from a werewolf at the Torchwood Estate, in Scotland. After the Doctor saves her she knights him and then banishes him and establishes Torchwood to keep out all aliens. (Something note here; Torchwood is an anagram for Doctor Who.) Later in the Doctor Who Series Torchwood blasts an alien ship out of the sky, which The Doctor had just made it’s passengers promise to never come to Earth again. Going against the Doctor on this the British Prime Minister learns not to cross the Doctor. In yet another episode of Doctor Who Torchwood is destroyed by the Daleks.
The Torchwood team is led by Captain Jack Harkness, who is a time agent and can never die. He met up with Doctor Who early in the new series and several times there after. After Torchwood is destroyed, Captain Jack rebuilds Torchwood because “The 21st Century is when Everything changes.” He rebuilds the base in Cardiff, Wales, because there is a rift in time and space above/around Cardiff that aliens and time travelers find their way through. His team’s job is to detain the arrivals or if possible send them back, keeping the world safe from aliens. So far the series has run 3 seasons with a fourth one coming soon, according to rumor at the time of this writing.
Set between the end of Series Two and the beginning of Series Three, the BBC aired four Torchwood radio dramas featuring the cast of the series, with the first airing September, 2008 and the last three July, 2009. That is the focus of this review. After I watched all of the new Doctor Who series and all the Torchwood series, I had to find more material. There are other audiobooks available but I wanted to start out with these radio dramas. They are available separately on amazon.com at last check.
So, let’s talk about these audio dramas. They all feature the full cast and are written just as well as the TV series. If you want to continue in the Torchwood world it is best to start with these since they do feature the full cast. They also include the same music as the TV broadcasts as well as phenomenal sound effects that blast you into the middle of the story.
Here’s a summary of each episode:
“Lost Souls” written by Joseph Lidster, begins with Captain Jack Harkness and his crew chasing weevils (annoying aliens that are constantly coming through the rift). Jack gets a call from Doctor Martha Jones, a former companion of The Doctor, who needs his help at CERN. Just hours away from a major discovery in particle physics people have gone missing. Torchwood arrives to find that the people have a particle missing from their atoms and must save the Earth from something brought to our univers via the Hadron Collider.
“Asylum” written by Anita Sullivan, is about a girl that comes from the future through the rift, she is caught shoplifting clothes and Torchwood is called in because of the weapon she’s carrying. Turns out the young girl is from a bleak future and has a secret. Why did she come back in time and more important who sent her?
“Golden Age” written by James Goss, tells the story of the Delhi branch of Torchwood which was closed down by Captain Jack Harkness back in 1924 yet the people inside are not only still receiving packages addressed to Torchwood but have also found a way to freeze time. This can’t be good for planet Earth.
“The Dead Line” written by Phil Ford is more of a haunting tale of a phone call you never want to receive. People in Cardiff are winding up in the hospital after answering the phone and going into a coma. When the call is traced the phone number is one that has not been connected since 1975. When Jack answers one of those calls it is up to Ianto Jones and Eve Myles, the other two members of Torchwood to find answers.
Four great sci-fi stories that will leave you wanting more. You can always go back and watch the series and check out the other audiobooks based on the series. Glad I could get you started.