May 10, 2018

[Books] Torchwood: The Lost Files Audible Review

Torchwood was one of the quirkier Doctor Who spin-offs that had a very distinct character of its own but could at times feel very alien from a Doctor Who perspective. And that's sort of an ironic statement given they were a group that focused on defending Earth from greater threats from beyond the stars.

But the show ended sooner than we'd like, which was just as well as their death count was pretty significant from season to season. And now the main way you can still explore their stories are through the novels written in the series or audio books like this.

And this is a pretty short one but it features a full cast - or at least a cast that represents what the full team was at the time these stories are set.  But it's the three characters we care about the most, right?

Synopsis: Torchwood: The Lost Files is a collection of three different short stories set in the Torchwood universe. These radio dramas were released prior to Torchwood's fourth series. This review covers the Audible release of these stories.

In "The Devil and Miss Carew" Gwen (Eve Myles) suspects that there's more going on at the Ivyday Nursing Home than what it seems, particularly related to the drastic turnaround in the condition of one of the patients. At the same time the entire country seems to be suffering from increasingly frequent power outages of increasing duration and severity.

In "Submission" the frew determine that there's an odd sound being broadcast in the ocean that sounds like some sort of call for help. They pull some strings to investigate the distress signal and also encounter an old flame of Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) who aids in their underwater exploration.

And finally in "The House of the Dead" Jack (John Barrowman) visits what is supposed to be the most haunted pub in Wales. The bar is due to close and for their last night they've invited a psychic to hold a séance, but it seems that she may be tapping into more than just nearby spirits. And Jack is doing his best to stop her before she releases a greater evil that had been trapped many years ago while the patrons are visited by actual spirits of their loved ones attracted by the psychic's call.

What I Liked: It was nice to hear the interaction between the Torchwood crew. As much as there used to be other members, Jack, Gwen, and Ianto were always the heart of the show for me. So having those actors reprise their character roles even in these audio adventures made for good fun. And they even brought in Rhys (Kai Owen) because he really rounds out Gwen's story, right?

The stories in themselves were prety good ranging from your classic clever adventure with "The Devil and Miss Carew" and going straight for the feels in "The House of the Dead". This is Torchwood after all and their efforts to be the more "adult" of the Doctor Who programs also meant crafting emotionally heavy stories that really make you feel something. And of course a short story that involves the ghosts of the dearly departed coming back can't mean anything good for our characters.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, this limited collection of radio dramas also means not as much content as we'd like. The first two stories are sort of self-contained adventures that really don't play out anything significant in the greater scheme of things and only the last story really tries to do something significant that sort of touches on the larger continuity of the Torchwood universe. In other words, the other stories don't necessarily feellike it was absolutely essential that they had to be Torchwood stories.

In that regard I wished there was a bit more time to develop character stories more or to really have us feel like we were back in a full-fledged Torchwood adventure. That means more of Gwen's domestic drama with Rhys and that sort of fun stuff. Those little touches that really made the show a unique little family amid the darkness that they deal with.

TL;DR: Torchwood: The Lost Files works as an audio experience since you get the gang back together and you have fun following them around. The first two stories are decent but a little fluffy - the real fun is the last one and how that really brings things home. And thus the collection gets a good 3.5 strange messages from beyond out of a possible 5.

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