Imagine stepping back a decade and watching that first season of Torchwood as it was broadcast; forget all of the character work that was done in the second and third years but purely look at what was established in those initial 13 episodes. Things don’t always quite add up particularly in the relationship dynamics between the characters – and most especially between Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones.
That’s where the Missing Adventures concept comes in really handy. Some of Big Finish’s Torchwood tales have taken the story on beyond Miracle Day/The Exodus Code; some have preceded the opening episode, Everything Changes. But there are a few, such as this, that help to smooth over some of the problems with the show, which even its greatest fans have to admit could be wildly uneven at times.
Joe Lidster presents a very human tale about a man coming to terms with the way in which his life has been completely broken. As someone who followed the show from the start, it’s hard to tell how well this will play for anyone who doesn’t know the broad strokes of series 1 – the events of Cyberwoman, Countrycide and a number of other episodes are heavily referenced – but for those who do, this is a tour de force. Gareth David-Lloyd delivers a bravura performance, using every nuance that Lidster gives him in the script, while John Barrowman shows us the different sides to Jack – including what he has learned through his long lives about human nature and how to deal with it. Kudos too to guest stars Melanie Walters for avoiding the clichés as Mandy the barmaid, and Eiry Thomas as Glenda (who’s excellent in a role that I won’t spoil).
The story veers in tone considerably along the way – as befits Ianto’s journey – and Scott Handcock never lets it feel unnatural. Steve Foxon provides some very distinctive soundscapes, and Blair Mowat’s music riffs well off themes established in the series (a certain Ballad making a welcome appearance).
Verdict: A powerful piece of drama. 10/10