Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 10/22/17 2:21 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
In the fifth story of the Aliens Among Us series, Love Rat, Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) has died how he lived: shagging someone who snapped his neck. But when he wakes up, Jack finds that he has an insatiable need to shag anyone who comes in his path. But with Torchwood called in by Sergeant Andy Davidson (Tom Price) to investigate some dead bodies that have no right being dead, this desire comes at the worst possible time, as the team fractures due to alien influences. Love Rat opens the set with an inconsequential, but nevertheless enjoyable tale. The story was an interesting one, with lots of funny moments throughout, mostly Jack's flirtations with nearly everyone he comes across, and several more quiet, powerful moments. John Barrowman is excellent as Jack in the story, while other cast members, such as Alexandria Ng, Tom Price, and Paul Clayton are all given chances to shine in this story.
John Barrowman returns as the leader of Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness. Barrowman has always held an affection for the role of Jack that I feel enhances his performances as the character. He always throws himself rather deeply into the role, regardless of the medium, and he does the same here. The Jack we get in this story is the more comedic, flirtatious Jack, but with occasional hints of the more serious man underneath. Barrowman has the time of his life here, getting the chance to flirt with nearly every character in the story. I quite liked how Barrowman was able to make the awkwardness of the flirting so funny; the scenes where he flirts with Tom Price's Andy Davidson were hilarious because of the exceedingly poor timing of it all. Speaking of Price, Andy Davidson is back! After his absence from the last set, Price's well-meaning, simplistic police sergeant makes a welcome return here in this story. Ever since Ghost Mission, I've always looked forward to the appearance of Andy in a story, because he brings a bit of deadpan, unintentional humour to a story rather effortlessly. I particularly liked his back and forth with Barrowman and Alexandria Riley throughout the story.
Alexandria Riley and Paul Clayton return as Ng, the woman who has taken over Gwen's life, and Mr. Colchester, the civil servant assisting Torchwood. Riley is, in essence, playing Gwen Cooper in these sets, with her character having somehow taken over the life of Gwen completely, fooling friends and family alike. Her character reminds me a bit of Adam from the episode Adam, a memory changing creature who inserts itself into the lives of Torchwood. Her character is interesting for that reason alone, but Riley really does a great job playing "Gwen" in these stories. Her impression isn't spot-on, but then, it's not meant to be. I was rather fooled during the last set, at least to start, thinking that maybe Myles (who makes some occasional appearances here in this story) had a cold or something. It's not quite Gwen, but it's enough to pass for Gwen if you're not listening hard. It works well within the story too, because it makes it clear, to audio listeners, that while this is Gwen, there's something off about her, and I really appreciate the work that Riley puts into the character. Paul Clayton delivers another excellent performance as Mr. Colchester in this story, once again through the use of Sam Béart's Orr. Clayton has an extremely dry sense of humour as Mr. Colchester, which is always welcome in a story, but the moments that stand out in this story are the moments that reveal things about his character and his person. The scene where he saves Orr's life, and tells everyone to exit the room to prevent everyone from affecting her, is a sweet moment, as Orr simply states that he must love his husband. Clayton really sells the hell out of this moment, and the build-up to it, giving a rather affecting performance that stands out among the others.
Christopher Cooper, a longtime Doctor Who comic writer, takes the audio writing helm for the third time, with a story about sex, plain and simple. Well, maybe not so simple, as it's about alien parasites affecting alien rats, which are affecting humans, and causing them to want to spread the virus and shag anything in sight. The script wrings a lot of humour out of Jack and the way he flirts with everyone and everything in sight, but there are some surprisingly affecting moments as well. Most of this story felt like a combination of elements of several episodes of Torchwood; elements of Adam, Day One, Countrycide, and Combat all pervade this story. But rather than being a Frankenstein-ed mess, the story mostly works, making the elements feel novel, putting them together in new ways. The story feels both like it's own thing, but also as a continuation of the overarching story of Aliens Among Us. I appreciated the alien menace of this story, and the way Orr and Jack reacted to it, finding it almost amusing that such a stupid pest could be the cause of all Torchwood's problems. I also quite liked the little aspects of the story that drove the main plot forward, like Tyler's (Jonny Green) interactions with Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) and how they're trying to move forward that aspect of the story a bit, as well as the parts of the story that dealt with "Gwen" and her being taken over by Ng.
However, there's one aspect of the story I'm quite mixed on, and that's "Gwen" sleeping with Jack, while under the influence of the alien parasite. This thread is a familiar thread to those who've seen Series 1 of Torchwood, where Gwen begins an affair with Owen, following a trying period of her life. I don't quite know how I feel about Cooper bringing this aspect of the story back up. On the one hand, my initial reaction is to dislike it. We've had the arc of Rhys being unhappy with Gwen's life and with her leaving him alone without calling, and the secret-keeping, and the affairs. But, on the other hand, we've never really had the arc of Gwen's affair resolved in the show. Gwen slips Rhys retcon, and it's really not brought up again in the show; if this is being taken as a rehashing of that arc, then I think it's a negative thing. But if this is a continuation, and the story will culminate in Rhys finding out about the affair, and leaving "Gwen" for the repeated affairs, then that will be an extremely interesting arc. For now, I'll leave this thread where it is, but it's an idea that I'm not quite sure how I feel about.
Overall, Love Rat opens the set with a story that is mostly funny, but that has some tinges of more powerful elements. John Barrowman gets a chance to play up the over-sexed aspect of Jack, and does it with relish, while Paul Clayton gives yet another impressive performance, and Alexandria Riley and Tom Price give enjoyable performances. Christopher Cooper's writing was a fun affair, capturing the funniest elements of each character well, and giving some strong, emotional moments for characters like Gwen and Mr. Colchester. It was a strong opening story to the set, and an exciting tease of things to come.