Big Finish Review: Torchwood - The Green Life
Continuing on from last month's Night of The Fendahl, which resurrected the classic Doctor Who monster in a Torchwood story featuring Eve Myles' Gwen Cooper, this Big Finish monthly Torchwood range features another sequel to a classic 70's Doctor Who story - The Green Death - brining back Third Doctor companion Jo Grant / Jones (Katy Manning) to tackle giant maggots once more with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
The Green Life has been written by David Llewellyn and directed by Scott Handcock. It is available to purchase at the Big Finish site here and goes on general release on the 23rd June. Here's the synopsis...
Torchwood vs Monsters!
Many years ago Jo Grant met Professor Clifford Jones, fell in love and saved the world. It all happened in the idyllic Welsh community of Llanfairfach.
Josephine Jones has come back to Llanfairfach and she finds it a bustling place with a thriving economy. The little town is now at the spearhead of a healthy-eating revolution. And yet, something’s missing. It feels like the heart has gone out of the place.
She falls in with a dashing stranger and realises that although the past was a lot simpler, not everything’s changed. There’s still something nasty in the mine, and it’s been waiting for Jo for a very long time.
The giant maggots from The Green Death are one of Doctor Who's most memorable - and disgusting monsters. The Green Life is very much a sequel to this story as it is a Torchwood tale that has a real sense of earth-shattering drama in a way that few of these more intimate character-centric releases provide. But it also serves to take both the characters of Jack and Jo in new directions, offering a delightful partnership that we never knew we needed.
While the story is a brilliant sequel to The Green Death with a very modern twist, the magic of The Green Life is in the partnership between these two iconic characters. So much of the story is driven by the bickering and sarcasm of these two; Jack frustrated by Jo's new age ideas and attempts to understand the maggots, while she has enough wit and charm to disarm even his most cutting remarks. Writer Davis Llewellyn's script leaps off the page, whether its the two making their way through maggot-infested tunnels or facing off against the nefarious AI voiced with real gravitas by Stewart Bevan.
It's also a story packed with atmosphere that recreates the disgusting nature of these giant maggots. The taught direction of Scott Handcock as they make their way through around the monsters, mixed with some repulsive sound effects, really brings the locations to life, pulling the listener right in there with them. And the maggots aren't the only nasty elements of this tale - Captain Jack's 'death' is one of the disgusting seen on screen or in audio, while the final revelations will leave you questioning your eating habits. The clue is in the name, but even when the truth becomes clear, it will leave you feeling a little nauseous.
But that's what makes this story so great; it has a very real world narrative, while developing the nefarious ideas of the story on which it was based. For all their bickering, Jack and Jo makes for a wonderful team - Barrowman and Manning have terrific chemistry - and the story leaves you eager for their next adventure together. For a Torchwood tale, it's also one that is accessible to a wider audience. It has a few innuendos, but doesn't have a number of the more adult themes you expect from this series.
And that's a good thing here. Because if you love the Third Doctor era like I do - this is a real treat; a fusion of classic and modern Doctor Who that is one of the best Big Finish releases in a while. And that's with some pretty stiff competition...
Sadly, the extras are a little lacking. There's not even a trailer for the next Torchwood main range release, Sync. However the behind the scenes interviews with director Scott Handcock and actors Katy Manning, John Barrowman and Stewart Bevan are lovely, reminiscing about Barrowman's childhood love of the Third Doctor era and the legacy of Jo Grant with Manning discussing her departure from the show in The Green Death.