GallifreyArchive, meet The Torchwood Archive; The Torchwood Archive, meet GallifreyArchive. Now that we’re acquainted between these two archives; let’s delve inside and see what The Torchwood Archive has to offer, shall we?
“Welcome, visitor. The Torchwood Archive provides a complete history of our Institute from its distant beginnings to the present day. When we founded our great enterprise in the year of our Lord 1879, we decreed that there should be a record of this achievement, stored at the very furthest limits of the British Empire. By visiting you are spreading that legacy, perhaps out through the skies. For now, I shall bid you a good day and welcome you to the Torchwood Archive. Do, please look around.”
The Torchwood Archive is a forgotten asteroid in the centre of a great war. Jeremiah is its first visitor in many centuries. He’s come to learn something very important. And the ghosts of Torchwood are waiting for him.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? It’s a good place to start, I tend to find. If you’re wondering just how jam packed The Torchwood Archive is going to be, the opening line of dialogue, that’s followed Torchwood through it’s ten year history will fill you in. Boy, is this thing filled to the rafters with characters from Torchwood. This is going to either be brilliant or dire.
It’s not often that we start a story with a hologram of Queen Victoria on an asteroid in the furthest reaches of space telling you that she assumes that the institute that she started way back during the events of Tooth and Claw will be remarkable. But then again, this is Torchwood. Expect the unexpected. Not all is as it seems though, as it seems that someone’s only reason to visit is to shut down the archive. Oh dear…
It’s odd to think that the holograms of Captain Jack and Ianto are forever stored in the Torchwood Archive, happy and alive (if you can call holograms alive, that is) and still seemingly in love with one another. Who needs a shrine when you’re hologram will seemingly live forever?
For some reason, PC Andy is also present in the archive, even though he’s not really a member of Torchwood (or is this a hint for future events?) and he seems more than welcome to help aid the first visitor for the archive in a long time. It seems that the visitor wants to know about something known as Object One and the history of Torchwood. This should be a fun presentation!
Like this review, the history of Torchwood starts at the beginning, with Queen Victoria explaining her hopes and intentions for the Torchwood Institute; it’s a nice recap for anyone who hasn’t watched Tooth and Claw for a long while, or never even watched any Doctor Who at all (who are you people?). We then get to know about one of PC Andy’s unsuccessful dates, like we did in the brilliant Ghost Mission and then comes the real meatiness; some more information about the Committee.
David Warner’s portrayal as the Committee’s spokesperson is absolutely great casting; I love how much Big Finish this superb actor performs in. David Warner is becoming an audio treasure. The first interaction between Torchwood and the Committee in this story is absolutely stellar, it doesn’t really answer anything, but makes you ask a hell of a lot more questions than you set out with. This is how good storytelling gets told.
From what I gather from what I’ve heard of The Torchwood Archive so far, (at the time of writing this I’m at about twenty minutes in) we’re getting more of a series of monologues with a vague through line opposed to the classic type of fairly linear story that we’re been known to expect from the other Torchwood releases from Big Finish. Personally, I love the change in structure, as it allows each character to openly convey their thoughts and feelings, without it seem too expositional in the middle of a story.
There’s a great scene between Suzie and Yvonne that takes place over the phone that I can’t help but mention. Suzie decides to confide in her about the strange goings on she’s discovered about a small Welsh village with some seriously weird occupants. One thing that I really admire Big Finish for is expanding Suzie’s backstory, considering the first time we saw her on TV, she shot herself in the head.
Not all is at it seems between Suzie and Yvonne though, as there’s tales of double-crossing, triple-crossing and a lot of deception between Torchwood One and Torchwood Three…
Something that I have to admit I’m surprised about is that James Goss decided to make us wait forty minutes before giving us any Gwen and Rhys action whatsoever. Torchwood’s other power couple (as well as Jack and Ianto) are at their best when they’re together. Rhys’ conspiracies about how to defrost a Nazi (yes, you read that right) are absolutely brilliant. If I’m perfectly honest, if I were in a relationship with someone who worked for Torchwood, I think I’d start to think along the same warped lines as Rhys, he’s had to put up with some crap, bless him.
Hearing about the Russian equivalent of Torchwood, which we last heard about in Zone 10. It seems that the events of Uncanny Valley has had a higher implication than you ever imagined. Who knew sex robots would be so vital in Torchwood’s history? (That is such a Torchwood sentence.)
Considering that Tosh was arguably the most reserved and self-controlled member of the Torchwood team, I’m really glad we get to hear her slightly unhinged in The Torchwood Archive. Toshiko being drunk in a bar, spilling out all of her secrets to the barman is absolutely brilliant. Especially when we learn about her feelings for Owen. (WHY ISN’T HE IN THIS RELEASE?)
We also get given some information about Torchwood Three’s past, before Captain Jack was in charge. It seems as if Jack’s predecessor was extremely savvy to the events in Jack’s past with the 456. A brilliant little nod to Children of Earth. What a great series that was. Anyway, we hear the shocking revelation of how Torchwood Three became Jack’s to rule.
The cliffhanger to the first episode of The Torchwood Archive is great, putting in place all we’ve learned over the past hour and bringing it right to the present (from the stories point of view anyway.) It seems as if the Bad Penny might still be bad after all these years.
The second part of The Torchwood Archive starts exactly where the first part left off, with Jeremiah wanting to end Torchwood. Jeremiah, better people have tried, and John Barrowman always keeps it alive, so I wouldn’t bother.
We get to learn a lot more about Jeremiah’s past during the opening few scenes of the second part. We learn about his love life, his new wife and his fear of the Enemy. Whoever the Enemy are. It turns out that the Great and Bountiful Human Empire has been at war with the enemy so long, that they’ve forgotten just who the Enemy really is.
Considering that Jeremiah has only been introduced in this story, I have to say that by the time that certain events happen in the second episode occur, I really feel sorry for the guy. Torchwood really has ruined his life.
After learning about Jeremiah’s heartbreak, we’re whisked back in time to the Victorian Torchwood, headed up by Archie, who’s turned just turned 100. A nice little nod to the events of The Victorian Age.
I’m so glad that we get to meet Norton Folgate again, from Ghost Mission; as he is, quite possibly, my favourite member of Torchwood ever. He’s razor-sharp and camp as hell, what’s not to love? It seems as if Norton is in a bit of a pickle. He’s surrounded by homophobes and, Norton being as he is, they’re not too keen on him. I have to commend the entire Big Finish team for having the tenacity to introduce a homophobic storyline into The Torchwood Archive, as one thing that Torchwood has always prided itself on is being as liberal as possible. Looking at the TV series, you have an omnisexual at the helm of the team, and I don’t think that any member of Torchwood you could say was 100% straight. I’m extremely glad that Big Finish has decided to keep the LGBT flame alight.
Of course though, with Norton being my favourite character, the rosiness and perfection can’t last too long. Bloody Norton. Never liked him much anyway.
We get a harrowing scene which is set after the fall of Canary Wharf where Ianto is desperate to find Lisa, his girlfriend (who you’ll know from Cyberwoman) and, if you know what happens in that story, you know how heartbreaking the whole situation is.
Jeremiah gets introduced to Rhys’ hologram, and Rhys being Rhys, he tells Jeremiah how it is. And Torchwood’s not too great. He even compares Torchwood to a dodgy kebab. What a great comparison. I love Rhys.
When Jeremiah finally reaches the centre of the Torchwood Archive, we learn a lot more about Object One, courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. We also get a huge insight into the true origin of the Committee. This massive organisation who has been plaguing Torchwood since they joined Big Finish. All these little threads seem to finally be converging. It is exciting.
The moment when Jeremiah manages to lock down the Torchwood Archive is extremely bittersweet. Jeremiah manages to accomplish a feat that no other member of Torchwood throughout history has.
The twist at the end of The Torchwood Archive is so absurd and mental that I truly didn’t see it coming at all. It seems that Jeremiah’s story (as well as a certain someone else’s) isn’t quite finished just yet. I wonder if we’ll get some more about them in future Torchwood releases from Big Finish.
Overall, The Torchwood Archive is an absolute love letter to the fans and the people involved; if you’ve been following the Torchwood stories from Big Finish, this release is a must-buy as it ties up so many loose plot threads. The performances are all incredible, and, even though you get enough answers to arcs that have been going on for over a year, you still find yourself wanting to know more.
Oh, and by the way, wait until the very end.
Should you want to purchase The Torchwood Archive, it’s currently available from Big Finish which can be purchased here for £13.99 for a physical version, or a download for £11.99.