I’m finally ready to review the second new Torchwood radio play: Golden Age by James Goss. For my review of the first new play Asylum, click here.
This one is now on itunes to buy, so you can listen to it even if you missed out on the BBC website.
Basic plot: The Torchwood team are investigating strange energy waves and people’s disappearances in Bombay, India. Jack is surprised to discover that the origin of these energy spikes seems to be the old building of Torchwood India, which he shut down in the 1924. Inside, he finds his old *friend* apparently not a day older than she was when the sun never set on the British Empire, nor has anything in the building changed. He makes it his business to find out why, and how it connects to the disappearances in the city.
Once again, the Torchwood team split up here: Gwen and Ianto/ Jack and Duchess. Jack certainly got more airtime in this episode, and it’s always nice to meet one of his old flames. Are there ANY of these folks who don’t want to kill Jack? (Also, much has been made of Jack calling Ianto his “assistant” when talking to the Duchess. I did quirk an eyebrow at that one). Gwen and Ianto do the exploring of the house and its grounds. Most of their speech is reaction to what they are seeing.
The episode on the whole was less of a concept piece than the previous two. It reminded me more of one of the slower Classic Who episodes, minus the political intrigue sub-plots.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but I think that if I were a Brit, the plot’s main thrust of longing for the “Golden Age” of the British Empire would resonate more with me. As it was, I could appreciate it, but I didn’t own it, so to speak. They do spend so much of the episode building up the glories of the by-gone years, that when Jack confronts Duchess with our modern, P-C sensibilities, it feels a bit forced. Perhaps this reflects the conflicted nature of Brit society? I just don’t know.
That being said, this was an episode that could have worked well on television, in that it could have been set in any of those period 1920’s sets that the BBC does so well. The fact that this stately home was in the middle of India WAS crucial in the plot, but we saw/ heard very little of Bombay itself. Speaking of which, I think that the radio play producers could learn from the Focus on the Family Radio Theater people about realistic sound design. They spent too much time describing locations with words instead of allowing clear and distinct Foley to do it for them. We heard the big things, like smashing glass, sure, but what about footsteps, ticking clocks, clink of croquet balls on the lawn, etc? Bring the setting to life, guys, come on.
**Spoiler** As for the ending, well… I saw it coming as soon as we got a glimpse of what was going on the house, and, though I understood the conversation about the machine– the actual thing itself didn’t make much sense. The last time the shadow hooks made it all the way into the factories blocks away before the machine went critical; this time they don’t even make it out of the room. Huh??
Should you listen to it? Yes.
Is it the best one? No.
I’m interested to hear what you thought, folks.