Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 6/10/17 7:22 pm
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In torchwood_cascade_CDRIP.tor, Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) gets a call from an old friend, urging her to meet her for drinks. Stephen (Robbie Jarvis), a former Torchwood One employee who keeps an eye out for alien threats, has noticed a strange coincidence of 27 deaths all at the same time. But even more than that, all of the people except one share the same birthday. A little digging by Tosh and Stephen reveals that all of them used the same torrenting site before they died. Piracy has always been a crime, but it's never hurt anyone. Until now. torchwood_cascade_CDRIP.tor is an interesting little story that proves that Big Finish is still willing to be experimental. Taking the form of a corrupted audio file almost, this release, from a directing standpoint, is a fascinating story. The story itself is a pretty straightforward affair, that feels interesting in some ways, and a little cliche in others. The cast here is strong, with Naoko Mori doing a wonderful job in the leading role, and Robbie Jarvis acts as a solid balance to Tosh's role here.
Naoko Mori is back as Toshiko Sato. I quite liked her performance in Zone 10, and she doesn't disappoint in this year's performance either. I've quite liked that both stories have featured a Tosh who's more sure of herself, rather than the meek, nerdy Tosh of the TV series. I'm guessing it has to do with the absence of Owen (Burn Gorman), who seemed to inhibit the take-charge quality she's displayed here. Mori does a good job throughout the story, but I particularly liked how she was able to keep calm during her confrontation with the avatar of the virus towards the end of the story. Robbie Jarvis plays Tosh's friend (who's been pining after her for years) Stephen, who calls her in when he notices a pattern in recent deaths. Jarvis acts as a solid balance to Mori here, grounding her at times, and driving the plot forward at other times. I was half-expecting him to be the creator of the virus, as an excuse to meet Tosh again, but his role was fairly sidekick-y.
Scott Handcock's story was an interesting affair. I was wondering if the story would be a blatant anti-piracy story in the end, but by and large it wasn't. There were small bits of it here and there, specifically in one scene where Max (Ashley Kumar) defends his piracy, and Tosh bluntly states he broke the law. But by and large, it was simply another Torchwood story, featuring an interesting alien menace. The idea of a sentient computer virus has been done before, but I still like the concept, especially given that it's a virus that spreads through torrenting. That concept, while a bit tried and true, feels interesting enough for a Torchwood story, especially when you put Torchwood's resident computer genius on the cast as well. I also quite liked, as I said above, Handcock's characterization of Tosh as someone more independent. This is reflected in the dialogue a bit, where Tosh takes on a very commanding presence throughout the story in my opinion, ordering Stephen around a little bit at times even. Scott Handcock is one of my favorite writers at Big Finish, mostly for his work on non-Doctor Who stuff, and this is another fantastic entry into his body of work.
The last thing I'd like to mention is the structure of the story, which is down to Scott Handcock's direction here. The story takes on a very stuttered, fractured approach. Scenes seem inserted randomly sometimes, with a snippet of the ending appearing near the twenty-minute mark, while musical interludes (I swear I heard the Iris Wildthyme theme at one point) appear throughout. The mysterious Nikki (Rachel Handshaw), the latest victim of the virus, appears throughout, warning the listener that the file is corrupted and they will die if they keep listening. Scenes are repeated, words skipped over, the intro sounds tinny and is hidden behind static at times. It's a very unique sounding story, put together well by Scott Handcock's directing. It's heartening to see someone willing to take risks with Big Finish material because, at times, it feels like Big Finish's days doing experimental work are over.
Overall, torchwood_cascade_CDRIP.tor was an enjoyable, somewhat unique release. It featured some solid voice work by Naoko Mori and Robbie Jarvis, and some interesting work by Ashley Kumar and Rachel Handshaw. Likewise, Scott Handcock's script was an interesting, enjoyable enough affair. It didn't go full anti-piracy, like a lot of people were expecting, but the message is certainly there. But what makes this release stand out is the excellent direction by Scott Handcock, who made the choice to have a story that sounds like an extremely corrupted audio file. That part of the story was my favorite bit here, and it really elevated the story beyond what it was: a slightly above average, yet interesting, story.