Uncanny Valley Review

Uncanny ValleyTorchwood frontman Captain Jack Harkness is back in the penultimate release of Big Finish’s first series of Torchwood adventures. The series so far has been pretty hit or miss, but will Uncanny Valley be a release you’ll want to hear over and over again or will it be something that seems too familiar?

WARNING: This review contains adult themes that won’t be suitable for younger readers.

Synopsis
What has made billionaire Neil Redmond emerge from his long seclusion? Captain Jack knows the answer, and is prepared to go to any lengths to prove it.
A couple of years ago, Neil Redmond was in a terrible accident. His recovery has been long and slow, but now he’s back and looking better than ever. Much better than ever.
Dark forces have been behind Neil’s transformation. Dark forces that Jack has been hunting for a long time. But Captain Jack’s never been able to resist the darkness.

Review
I really enjoyed Torchwood when I was old enough to watch it (even though I think I started around 14, a year below the recommended age of 15), it was everything that appealed to a teenager; it was dark, it was gritty, it was sexual, it was open, it was fun, and more importantly for me, it was based in the same universe as Doctor Who.
When it was announced then, that Big Finish was going to be bringing Torchwood back on audio, I was so glad that we’d get to have more adventures featuring the Torchwood team; since starting in September of last year, we’ve had releases featuring Captain Jack, Ianto, Gwen and Rhys and Yvonne Hartman. This month, we’re back with our favourite 51st century Time Agent/ immortal leader of the Torchwood team, Captain Jack Harkness.

I have to admit that whilst I’ve really enjoyed the previous four releases, I thought there was a certain aspect of what made TV Torchwood so appealing to me missing. Luckily though, this latest release addresses that issue in a way that only Torchwood could pull off. It seemed to me that Big Finish were trying to divert slightly from the omnisexual nature of Captain Jack, and in some cases, the rest of the Torchwood team, in the releases; but if you really enjoy Captain Jack at his Captain Jack-iest, then Uncanny Valley is the release for you.

The premise of the story is rather simple; there’s a billionaire called Neil who had a car crash years ago, leaving him paralysed; then, all of a sudden he’s up and about making appearances at every important conference around the globe. Jack senses something’s amiss so he decides to pay a visit to Neil at his home in Wales. Whilst Neil answers the door in Wales though, he’s also in another country at a conference. It’s a tale of two Neil’s. Now I love a good old doppleganger story, I thoroughly enjoyed The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People, I enjoyed it when Rory came back as an Auton duplicate in The Pandorica Opens and, to be honest, I would have been happy if the solution was either Flesh or Auton’s in this release. This being Torchwood however, they had to give it an adult twist. There’s no easy way to put this, and if you suffer from an extremely nervous disposition, I’d recommend looking away now. The duplicate Neil is a very high-tech sex robot that’s also able to learn and pass of as Neil.
Told you it had a Torchwood twist.

Most of the story revolves around Neil telling Jack exactly how advanced the robot Neil had become, starting to become more an more autonomous, and Jack trying to work out exactly where this type of technology could have come from. It’s a fast paced story but luckily has time for slower, more personal moments. Fans of Captain Jack’s sexuality will also be in for a treat as he gets into bed with a Neil (I won’t tell you which) and uses it to his advantage.

Fans who have listened to the previous episodes in this series are also going to be rewarded for loyalty, as the story arc that seems to be threading all of these stories together adds another string to its bow.

What I really enjoyed about this release is just how dark and gritty it is, without it being too sombre, just like TV Torchwood used to be. This release also really showcases John Barrowman’s acting ability, he can go from being someone’s best friend to being cold, heartless and terrifying in the blink of an eye, making you remember that Captain Jack isn’t as human as he appears. He knows how Torchwood works and uses it to his advantage, making threats knowing the weight of the Torchwood name is enough to strike fear into the hearts of those in the know.

Rating
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For Uncanny Valley , I will give a rating of:

9

Should you want to purchase Torchwood: Uncanny Valley, click here to be taken to the Big Finish website. Uncanny Valley costs £7.99 for the download and £9.99 for the physical copy.

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