Big Finish Review: Torchwood - Sync
Big Finish continues its theme of classic Doctor Who monsters in Torchwood, with Sync, which sees Nu Who creation the Slitheen in a tale that unites original Torchwood team member Susie Costello (Indira Varma) with Cardiff mayor Margaret Blaine (Annette Badland) prior to her crossing paths with the Ninth Doctor in Boom Town.
Sync has been written by Lisa McMullin and directed by Scott Handcock. It is available to purchase at the Big Finish site here and goes on general release on the 31st July 2019. Here's the synopsis...
Torchwood vs Monsters!
Margaret Blaine is the Mayor of Cardiff. She’s also an alien who’ll do anything to get off the planet Earth. When a spaceship crashes outside Cardiff, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But she’s not the only person at crash site.
Suzie Costello works for Torchwood, but strictly to her own agenda. When a spaceship crashes outside Cardiff, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But she’s not the only person at the crash site.
Bonded by an alien device, Margaret and Suzie find themselves on the run from Torchwood, the police, and six warp missiles that’ll destroy them, Cardiff, and most of the Western Hemisphere.
The Slitheen aren't looked upon as the fondest of aliens to grace Doctor Who, but for all the faults and fart jokes of the show's first two -parter way back in 2005, it did give us Boom Town, which dealt with the surviving Slitheen member played by Annette Badlan, who found her way to Cardiff as its nefarious mayor. In Big Finish, nefarious Cardiff mayors are a common thing - just look at Ro-Jedda from the next excellent Torchwood: Aliens Among Us - and its fair to say that there was something of Badlan's character in that role. Criticism the Slitheen all you wan, but that scene in the restaurant between Margaret Blaine and the Ninth Doctor in the show's first series (of Nu Who) is one of 2005's best Doctor Who moments.
Telling Torchwood stories in different points in the show's history has afforded this monthly character pieces a wealth of opportunity and that is absolutely taken up here by bringing back Badlan's Slitheen mayor alongside short-lived and just as dangerous Torchwood member Suzie Costello. Sync is packed with delicious character tete-e-tetes as these equally nefarious characters are forced together by an alien device, flitting between helping and trying to kill each other. It really creates a sense of what Torchwood was like before its first series back in 2006, a shadowy organisation just out of sight hunting alien threats to the city and the UK as a whole.
Of the three 'Torchwood vs Monsters' releases so far, Sync doesn't quite have the same impact as its predecessors. The story is simpler and the Slitheen don't carry the same weight as the other classic monsters reintroduced; but it does make excellent use of its too leads. When Margaret transforms into her true self in the lock up, the scene carries a well weight of tension and menace, but the magic of the story is how both 'human' characters are constantly to get one up on another. As outsiders on Earth, a real - if very tense - bond develops between these two characters and the potential to explore their relationship further is ripe for developments (their fates of course already laid out in future on screen stories).
Sync is a funny, intense and nefarious interplay between two very dangerous people from two different shows. And yet when they are in the story together, you have to question why it didn't happen before. Let's hope Big Finish find a way to bring them back together once more. You can only imagine the havoc they might cause.
Two trailers accompany this release; the first for the final, dramatic volume of Torchwood's 'sixth series' God Among Us and the second the return of the Autons in the final 'Torchwood vs Monster' tale Sargasso, featuring Kai Owen as Rhys Williams.
There is also a lovely couple of tracks featuring interviews between director Scott Handcock and stars Indira Varma and Annette Badland, who seem genuinely delighted with the tale and the opportunities to be reunited again. Let's hope Big Finish listens.