Big Finish review-Torchwood: Forgotten Lives

For the first time in this range, as opposed to stepping back in time, Torchwood instead fast-forwards to the modern day, by visiting Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams five years after Miracle Day. Jack is missing, the Committee are at it again and why exactly is someone who isn’t John Barrowman claiming to be Captain Jack Harkness?

Fall to Earth is a lot like The Zygon Inversion. Both are very good stories and are tough acts to follow. But if there’s anyone who can avoid pulling a Sleep No More, it’s Gwen and Rhys. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

One of the main problems with this story is “Jack Harkness”, or rather the elderly man who summons Gwen and Rhys, claiming to be Jack Harkness’s mind in another person’s body. Philip Bond doesn’t play a noteworthy Jack. His accent is all over the place and the characterisation of Jack Harkness is a joke. He’s incompetent and idiotic in most of his scenes, bordering on putting listeners off this story entirely. In truth, it took me three tries before I could finish this story, which helps explain why this review is so late. The story tries to juggle some big ideas, at times it feels like two separate scripts fused together. The Evolved are aliens who can transfer people’s minds into other people which on its own is already enough story material to base a whole miniseries off of. Constraining such an extravagant idea to one story with a lot of lagging in the middle feels like a waste.

Fans hoping for some kind of closure to the awful cliffhanger featured at the end of Miracle Day, I’m sorry to say that you’re in for a big disappointment (probably due to rights issues with Starz). Worthwhile references to Miracle Day are scarce or cheap attempts at continuity; the only one being that at some point Jack discovered that the Three Families were controlled by the Committee, which is just an okay way of retconning Miracle Day into the Torchwood audios. If you were hoping to hear what happened to Rex Matheson and his immortality, you’d have better luck asking Russell T Davies.

It’s worth noting, however, that the saving grace of Forgotten Lives is the excellent performance of Eve Myles and Kai Owen. Despite the weaknesses in the script, the two actors slip effortlessly back into their roles as Gwen and Rhys, and their chemistry remains as strong as ever. They bring much-needed energy and heart to the story, and their interactions are some of the most engaging parts of the episode. Their performances alone make the episode worth a listen for die-hard Torchwood fans.