Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 10/22/17 2:22 am
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In the penultimate story of the second Aliens Among Us box set, Tyler Steele (Jonny Green) has his sights set on a young man named Hasan (Sacha Dhawan). But soon, Tyler begins to notice that Hasan follows an extremely regular pattern, day in, day out. After making contact, he discovers that Hasan uses an app called Deliverables, which tasks him with delivering packages all day long. As Tyler becomes wrapped up in the app, it becomes clear that something is working behind the scenes, towards an unknown goal. Torchwood may not need Tyler, but he needs them to help him, or he won't survive for much longer. Zero Hour is, in essence, a tragic story of a love... well, a shag never to be, between Tyler and Hasan. It's a rather interesting story too; I love the idea of a "killer app" as a commentary on the current idea of a phone-addicted population (including little jokes done throughout the story poking fun at that idea), and how it plays into the themes of Torchwood. Jonny Green and Sacha Dhawan both did fine jobs as Tyler and Hasan, with a lot of chemistry between the two actors, while Alexandria Riley did a nice job acting as a supporting character to Tyler. Overall, it was an enjoyable story that both built up the overarching plot to the series of Aliens Among Us, but also made for an enjoyable story in and of itself.
This story featured Jonny Green and guest star Sacha Dhawan as the main stars of this story. Green has always been enjoyable as the cocksure yet vaguely inept character he is, but here, he gets a chance to shine as the lead of a story, for the first time portraying the character more vulnerably. Green plays the role as a bit horny, but also very curious about what's going on with Hasan and Deliverables. He's insistent to Riley's Ng "Gwen" that something is wrong, and eventually wins her over to his side. But all that drops to the wayside, as Green's finest moment in the series comes, as he discovers that Hasan has been cremated by "HR". It's a jarring moment, and it's well acted by Green, who projects a lot of quiet pain in his performance. Sacha Dhawan is another highlight of the cast, portraying the would-be lover of Tyler, Hasan. Dhawan's Hasan is a rather sweet character, seemingly innocent, and driven to do his job, regardless of distractions, but there's a bit of desperation in his performance that belies the big reveal about Deliverables throughout the story. It's a nuanced performance, as you can almost take it as Dhawan trying to clue listeners, and Tyler, into realizing that there's more to Deliverables than meets the eye.
Janine H Jones, in her first contribution for Big Finish, ahead of December's The War Master set, writes an interesting story about patterns and repetitions. Originally titled "Groundhog Day", Jones draws a lot of parallels with the movie of the same name, as Tyler and Hasan circle around each other in a never-ending cycle of repetition. The highlight of Jones' story is the way she crafted a "killer app" story without it coming across as corny. The mechanism for the story, the idea that the Sorvix crafted this app to try and take control of the Cardiff Rift, is a brilliant way of marrying the theme of the series, the Sorvix occupation, to a killer app story, elevating it, and avoiding your typical, cheesy stories. It's enhanced by the emotional stakes of the story, a rather sweet love story cut tragically short by the utterly apathetic Sorvix. It's the idea that they think it's a win-win situation, as they gain control of the Rift, and solve the population issues, in one fell swoop, that really hits the hardest for this story.
Beyond just the rather sweet, poignant love story between the two, I really liked the development for Tyler in this story. He's often felt like a miniature Jack, but without any of the tragedy. He's always just sort of been that kind of asshole character, flirting relentlessly with everyone, but with nothing really behind it. But this story changes that, by giving Tyler a lot more depth, showing some of his motivations. While at first, he clearly just wants a quick fuck and to be done with it, he's motivated, once he realizes the irregularities, to help out and try and solve these issues. His desire to discover what is truly happening with Deliverables is admirable enough, but it's the ending, as he confronts Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) about the Sorvix and their part in the Deliverables app, that really seals the deal for Tyler's development. It's a blistering attack on Ro-Jedda, made all the more horrific by her indifference and outright threat to Tyler by the end. Ro-Jedda is entirely unsympathetic as a character, and it brings out the best, and worst, in Tyler, as he tries to fight against her, but realizes that he has no way to survive without kowtowing to her demands.
I'd like to take a moment to mention the great sound design work done for this release, by Steve Foxon. Foxon, who has done a lot of sound design work for Big Finish, including much of the recent Torchwood output, does a fine job here especially. I was impressed by the work he did making Cardiff really come alive at the right times, while also making it feel artificial. I also want to mention the music work, done by Blair Mowat and Steve Wright. Mowat and Wright have done the music work for many of Big Finish's Torchwood dramas and... well, to be honest, it's all the same work, by and large. It hasn't really changed from The Conspiracy when that was released over 2 years ago. Which is fine, it works well. But it doesn't make for the most inspired soundtracks on the planet. I wish they'd shake things up a little bit here and again, but I'm guessing it'll come down to money, in the end.
Overall, Zero Hour is an enjoyable tale that begins rather sweetly, while slowly revealing something sinister, until events reach a climax. Jonny Green is a delight as Tyler Steele, really getting a chance to flex his acting muscles a bit, showing off his depth and range. He's joined by the excellent Sacha Dhawan, who provides a great counterpart to Tyler, as Hasan. Janine H Jones did a great job with the script for this story; I quite liked her way of working around the pitfalls that often befall those who write "killer app" stories, and I really appreciated the character development that she gave to Tyler in the story. It's another strong release in an already excellent box set, and a great sign of things to come.