Big Finish Review: Torchwood - Serenity
The pairing of Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones is one of the most popular and enduring relationships from the whole Doctor Who-Torchwood universe, with fans clamouring to hear more from the star-crossed lovers. This month’s Monthly Range release reunites Jack and Ianto in a story that dives headlong into their ill-fated relationship and workplace dynamic.
Written by James Moran and directed by Scott Handcock, Torchwood - Serenity is available from the Big Finish website on general release until September 30th 2019. Read the synopsis below:
Serenity Plaza is the most exclusive gated community in South Wales. You’d kill to live there.
Jack and Ianto have gone undercover as a happily married couple. There are rumours that something’s wrong at Serenity Plaza and they’re determined to investigate. But the problem is that Serenity Plaza is just so rigidly normal.
Suddenly, Jack and Ianto have to confront the problems that normal couples face. Sharing a house together, doing the washing up, entering the residents’ baking contest, and hoping to win the Best Kept Lawn. Competition is fierce. Because this is Serenity Plaza. And you’d kill to live there.
Although Serenity is James Moran’s first script for Big Finish’s audio range, it is the latest in a line of contributions to the Torchwood universe across multiple media. Despite it being his first audio story, Serenity is an automatic highlight of Big Finish’s Torchwood output – and that is with some tough competition across the years. It also functions as a sequel to the TV story Sleeper, which was scripted by Moran.
The idea of placing Jack and Ianto into suburbia and have them live their lives as married couple Ken and Ifan is at once cringeworthy and cheesy, but also hilarious and exactly what we didn’t know we needed in a Torchwood story. Jack and Ianto’s ultra-cheery countenance is quickly revealed to be a guise for an undercover investigation seeking to locate an alien sleeper agent, of the same kind that featured in the aforementioned TV episode.
This time, both Jack and Ianto are wearing perception filters to blend in, and the result is engrossing as they play into their allocated roles and embrace the duties of domestic life. Things become slightly complicated for their relationship – and beneficial for the drama – when they get more attached to their new-found habits and identities than originally intended.
Ianto sounds more Welsh than ever in his stay-at-home husband disguise, which is strangely fitting and not too far gone from his original function in the show as the coffee-making receptionist. Serenity is a highly amusing episode with multiple hilarious moments, including Jack and Ianto being told off for bickering like the married couple they appear to be, and when sending up their own characters with mock devotion to their home in the suburbs.
The small yet adept supporting cast offer performances that in any other drama would come across as plastic and lacking in sophistication, but here are the perfect complement to the Truman Show-style fakery. The episode ultimately has the chance to combine the best aspects of Torchwood – a down-to-earth Welsh setting, character-based humour and conflict, and some disturbing themes and horror for good measure.
Ten minutes of cast and crew interviews are included, where we hear of the in-studio electricity between the two leads, writer James Moran’s joy at revisiting the story world, and on-set anecdotes from filming the episode Sleeper.
Blair Mowat’s music score is also worth a mention, accentuating the moments of forced positivity and bubbly cheer with lots of upbeat chimes and xylophones. His special rendition of the theme tune is fantastic.
Lastly, the trailer for next month’s The Hope, starring Burn Gorman and Tom Price, sounds like a suitably hard-hitting follow-up to their previous outing Corpse Day.
The Torchwood Monthly Range continues to serve its characters first and foremost, basing the drama on the cast while exploring the broader world of alien presences in Wales. Serenity continues the strong line of reliable Torchwood output from Big Finish with a hilarious and pitch-perfect depiction of domestic life for two highly popular characters.