Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 3 – Starring John Barrowman, Tracey Ann-Oberman, Alexandria Riley, Paul Clayton, Samantha Beart, Kai Owen, Jonny Green, Eve Myles, Tom Price, Rachel Atkins, Ramon Tikaram, Terence Hardiman and Sanee Raval. Written by Joseph Lidtser, Tim Foley, James Goss and Helen Goldwyn, Directed by Scott Handcock – 4xCD / Download (Big Finish)
The long wait is finally over, and Torchwood’s official 5th season has drawn to a close with four last episodes. The problem with this set is that it starts strong and gets weaker from there.
The first episode, Poker Face, is easily the best of the lot. It’s brisk, lively and the hour flies by. It’s a claustrophobic affair, and gives a completely plausible answer to the central mystery of how Yvonne Hartman is still alive. It also does a great job of bringing the listener up to speed after a few months away from the Torchwood gang. It’s nice to hear everyone again; sometimes the gang don’t quite gel together, but I guess this is a problem when one of your main characters isn’t themselves for a whole series. Paul Clayton as Mr Colchester is consistently good, and John Barrowman gives an excellent performance as it becomes clear that his team is headed down a mutinous path again.
Tagged sees one of PC Andy Davidson’s colleagues step into the limelight, in this piece which has a lot to say about social media and trolls. The fan reaction to this season means that the creative minds behind Aliens Among Us are probably dealing with comments like these on a daily basis.
Having said that, it wouldn’t be trolling to declare that Escape Room is sadly the low point of the set. Every story turn is predictable, every ‘revelation’ rings false as we’ve heard it a thousand times before in various forms. It was actually frustrating to listen to, as traces of daring and originality (‘they wouldn’t…would they?’) were snatched away at the last moment by a happy ending. Oh look, the villain’s trapped in his own game. How fun, how twisted.
Herald of the Dawn made for an exciting finale, but it never felt like the story actually finished due to the cliff-hanger ending (and wouldn’t it have been nice to hear Bilis Manger again?). It would have been good to have a complete story, especially as we have to wait god knows how long for the next instalment. But one of the most significant strands gets resolved, which is a start.
If we were describing this set to the man on the omnibus, the overall verdict would be ‘it’s alright. Not great.’ Maybe time will be kinder to it, but we can’t recommend either this set or the season in the same enthusiastic way we would The Torchwood Archive, or Fall to Earth. There are lots of good little moments here and there, and it does feel like authentic Torchwood. But some of the accents are a little off, the stories aren’t always good enough, and it doesn’t always hit the mark.
So, exactly like Torchwood then. Scott Varnham