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Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
2
Plot Rating:
1
Acting Rating:
3
Replay Rating:
1
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 3/21/17 7:52 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

In Visiting Hours, the opening Torchwood release of 2017, Rhys (Kai Owen) is visiting his mother Brenda (Nerys Hughes) in the hospital, following a routine hip surgery. But mysterious things are happening at St Helen's Hospital; people keep dying of natural causes during the night, but no one can find the bodies. This hasn't gone unnoticed by hospital staff, and questions are being asked. Rhys and Brenda thought this would be a routine hospital stay, but they're in for a rude awakening and a very long night. Visiting Hours was not a strong start to 2017's run of Torchwood releases. While the script managed to wring some humor out of the interactions between Rhys and Brenda, it didn't manage to do much more, delivering a boring story. The main performances by Kai Owen and Nerys Hughes were fun, as they had an excellent comedic back-and-forth, but there wasn't much else in their performances.

Kai Owen and Nerys Hughes reprise their roles as Rhys and Brenda Willliams, with Hughes returning from Torchwood's Something Borrowed. Owen is the main star of this story, delivering a generally funny performance, as a man both frustrated by and scared for his mother. The comedic bits of his performance were excellent, such as his exasperation with his mother constantly telling him to mind his language, while I felt the commanding, emotional moments tended to fall a bit flat. His scene interacting with Karl Theobald and Ryan Sampson about the reasons for why they're taking people, and about their motivations for it, felt forced to me, and fell flat, in my opinion. Hughes fared a bit better, acting as the mother most people have; overbearing, caring, and just a bit bawdy. She too did very well with her comedic moments, and shared an excellent chemistry with Kai Owen. Her emotional moments fared better than Owen's, as I felt she did well in the scenes where she was meant to be scared of being taken.

The guest cast is mainly led by Karl Theobald and Ryan Sampson as Mr. Tate and Mr. Nichols, two men tasked with taking bodies back to the past for rich benefactors. The two were given a decent amount of depth beyond the normal criminal goon, which I appreciated, and I think Theobald and Sampson did a good job together. They had a good rapport with one another, and both brought something fun and interesting to the table. Also making occasional appearances throughout the story was Stephen Critchlow as the sinister Dr. Fletcher. Critchlow didn't really stand out much, which is a damn shame, as he's such a good actor usually. His brief appearances in this story felt like a cameo of something greater, which I didn't really like. Rounding out the guest cast was Ruth Lloyd, playing Nurse Brown in the opening and closing scenes. She did a perfectly fine job, and I liked her bumbling performance at the end of the story, trying to explain to Rhys that there was a mixup with his mother, and they thought she had passed away.

David Llewellyn's script was a funny affair, but it didn't do much beyond trying to be funny. It felt like a very boring, somewhat confusing story overall, and not much else. I really appreciated the comedic elements of this story, as I think Llewellyn did a great job there. The scenes between Rhys and Brenda were rather funny; I particularly liked the way Brenda was constantly telling Rhys off for swearing, and then said, "...because I'm in fucking agony right now..." towards the end. It gave me a rather good laugh, to be quite honest. However, beyond the comedic elements of the script, there isn't really much of substance there. The emotional moments between Brenda and Rhys fell flat, save for the tender ending scene between the two. It never really felt like a mother and her son doing things, but rather like a comedic duo trading banter. I also found the "villains" of the story to be poorly developed. The villain's plan was to kidnap people from the future for rich benefactors, and harvest their organs; they're aided by a mysterious, robotic force from the future, and use the promise of salvation for those who help them out. And yet, most of the story focuses on the people aiding the villains, and their work trying to kidnap people. I can understand if Big Finish is setting up a new villain to replace The Committee, and starting a new arc, but that doesn't mean that the motivation for the villains should be pushed to the side completely. How did the villains set up the time machine to the past? Why was Dr. Fletcher helping them? What are the robotic force from the future? None of those questions are even touched upon, leaving a confusing, and deeply unsatisfying ending to the story.

The music of the previous two series of Torchwood returns, which I'm not too crazy about. The music is rather good, don't get me wrong, but I wish that Big Finish would change it up here and there. Stories like The Victorian Age and Zone 10, which are set in very different places than Cardiff, would've been the perfect stories to experiment with a different soundtrack, but instead, they just use the same old Torchwood theme. I wish Big Finish and Blair Mowat would work on using a different soundtrack for these Torchwood releases, or at least mix it up a little bit here and there, much like they do for other ranges. The sound design by Benji Clifford is rather excellent though, with the hospital setting feeling alive during normal hours, and empty and creepy, yet still lived in during the night. Big Finish has always employed excellent sound designers, and Clifford is really one of the best ones out there, in my opinion.

Two final things I'd like to note about this release are the length of the story and the cover artwork. The length of this story is rather short, coming in at about 46:30; with the behind-the-scenes content, it goes up to about 57 minutes in length. I tend to not really care that much if some of Big Finish's releases are a few minutes short, but when they're over 10 minutes short, I take notice. I always feel a little cheated when I find that a story is shorter than promised; in this case this hour long story is almost 13 minutes shorter, which is the most I've seen in quite some time. Finally, I'd like to make note of the cover art, done by Lee Binding. Binding has done the work for most of the Torchwood range, to mixed results. Some of the art, for releases like More Than This, Ghost Mission, Moving Target, and Made You Look have been quite interesting, while others have been rather boring. This art falls into the latter in my opinion, with a rather simple design of Kai Owen's character in front of a ghastly operating theater. Not the most visually stunning photo ever, but it gets the job done, which is perfectly fine.

Overall, Visiting Hours was not a great start to the 2017 run of Torchwood stories. Featuring two strong comedic performances, but very little else, and some bland guest performances, the cast didn't really stand out in this story. Similarly, David Llewellyn's script was funny, but it lacked an engaging plot, and the ending felt rushed and almost tacked on. The sound design was good as well, but I'm beginning to get frustrated by the same soundtrack being used, and the very similar, bland cover art being used from story to story. It wasn't a great way to start of 2017 for Torchwood, so here's hoping next month's story will fare a bit better.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: TheBigChurroReview Date: 1/30/17 1:14 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

"Fall to Earth" sees Ianto Jones falling to Earth on a spaceship as part of a mission he chose to go on to try and win back the Torchwood team during Series 1 (after Cyber-Women). This audio does go on for quite a while but the two cast members hold it up well, 50 minutes of just 2 people on either side of a phone call is a great concept that Big Finish executes perfectly.
But because there are only two characters, the one you care about you already know is going to make it out alive, while the other you don't really care about, the story lacks the gut-punch that I want from a story like this.
In the end, I think "Fall to Earth," is a good story that deserves 7/10 :)
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
5
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 1/22/17 2:41 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Torchwood One: Before the Fall is a story about a hostile takeover and a conflict that threatens to end both the career and the life of Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman), the head of Torchwood One. Across three hours, Yvonne must make choices and decisions if she's going to survive as head of Torchwood. But this is a fight that Yvonne must win. One that she will win, whatever the cost. Torchwood One: Before the Fall is the latest full-cast Torchwood story from Big Finish and the first to primarily star one of their "one-off characters". It is far more of an interesting story than last year's Torchwood: Outbreak, and the character work for Oberman's character is absolutely fantastic, but otherwise it feels like this was a rather superfluous story, with some perfectly fine though boring scripts, and a generally shallow guest cast.

To start off, I'll look at the cast, and the first person is obviously Tracy-Ann Oberman as Yvonne Hartman. Oberman is an absolute delight as Yvonne Hartman; she's cruel, ruthless, sadistic, sickly sweet, and just oozes danger with every word. Her previous story, One Rule, was a delightful story to listen to here, and the strong character work that the writers gave to her made her the absolute highlight of this story. She steals every single scene she's a part of, and commands attention. I particularly liked her scenes in the final part acting alongside Sophie Winkelman as Rachel Allan; they were cruel and brutal, and Oberman did an absolutely fantastic job here. Also of note is Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones, portraying a very different Ianto than we're used to. I liked this version of Ianto, and I think David-Lloyd did a great job making him different from the Ianto viewers are used to. He's far more like he was in the Torchwood pilot episode, with a kind of posh reserve, but I liked the little hints of something a bit more going on inside his head. There was just a bit of a darker tone to his performance that was very subtly implied, which I quite enjoyed.

For the guest cast, a lot of the actors really don't do much, and sort of blend in with all the others. It could be because it's a large guest cast, but I found myself struggling to differentiate certain characters or notice really anyone who stood out. I did like Sophie Winkleman's performance as Rachel Allan, the central guest character of this story, and the central antagonist, but overall, I disliked her characterization. The story never really gives a satisfying reason for her motivations to take control of Torchwood, other than vaguely mentioning Yvonne and her relation to her father, and her burning desire to do good and save the human race, but it just never really satisfied me. I know this story was really about Yvonne Hartman, but it would've been nice if the story could've given it's central antagonist more of a backstory.

The plot itself, as I've said a few times above, felt rather underwhelming, at least for the first two hours. Joseph Lidster's opening story, New Girl was a quite fun little story about a new Torchwood employee and her first few weeks with Torchwood. I quite liked the focus on Rachel in this story, and the tertiary focus on Yvonne, as it almost built up Yvonne as this more mysterious figure. I quite liked the twist towards the end with Yvonne being accused of deliberately killing Pippa. However, I found that while it was perfectly enjoyable, and had occasional flashes of something more, I found it a bit boring, to be honest.

The second story, Through the Ruins, was far more of a mess, in my opinion. I disliked how the rest of the story itself meandered and just felt like pure filler. Jenny T Colgan normally delivers strong scripts, so I was quite disappointed by her inconsequential plot here. With more of a focus on Ianto and Rachel in this story, I think the story suffered as a result, as neither David-Lloyd nor Winkleman could quite match Oberman's performance here. The story was supposed to be about developing what was happening at Torchwood during Yvonne's absence, but instead the story felt inconsequential and incomplete.

The final story of the set, Matt Fitton's Uprising was the highlight of the set, in my opinion. While I disliked the poor development of Rachel's motivations and goals, I did quite like the large scale of this story. Considering Fitton's track record as of late with finales, it was nice to have Fitton deliver a solid script. The highlight of this set was, as it always is, Oberman's performance as Yvonne Hartman. Her final scenes, one confronting Rachel and one with Ianto and Rachel, are the highlights of this story, and give this story an extremely dark ending. I also quite liked, overall, Yvonne's convoluted plans for retaking Torchwood from Rachel.

My only other issue, and it's a very minor one, is that while Blair Mowat and Steve Wright's work on the Big Finish Torchwood soundtrack is stellar, I wish they'd given this release a little bit of love. As it stands, Big Finish basically just inserted their standard Torchwood music, including themes, stings, and background music, into this story. I wish they'd given it a little bit of a different flair to differentiate it from previous Torchwood stories, either by giving it a bit of a mid-00's flair or just changing it up and doing something familiar, but different.

Overall, I did enjoy Torchwood One: Before the Fall, if nothing else but for the absolutely stellar performance by Tracy-Ann Oberman as Yvonne Hartman. The guest cast never really stood out, and the scripts, apart from the final story, felt rather lackluster, and the central antagonist was a disappointment. But the final part brought a delightful, excellent character piece to the table, and the performance of Oberman throughout was quite delightful. Overall, it was an enjoyable release for the character work alone, and a delightfully dark story in the end, even if the journey to get to the end was a bit boring.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: AvonKerrReview Date: 7/9/16 5:14 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Strong and emotional piece of drama. I think this is the best performance by Gareth David-Lloyd we have ever (seen) heard. Really bleak and horrifying script and dialogues. The idea that it's set within the whole Season 1 of TV-Torchwood, showing consequences of stuff like 'Cyberwoman' and 'Countrycide' is simply the best we could have ever hoped for.

But I don't think this will be joy to relisten, too dark and emotionally exhausting. But didn't the whole Torchwood is like that? :)

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