Burn Gorman is finally back! It only took fifteen releases of the Main Range of Torchwood, but we can finally get reacquainted with everyone’s favourite Torchwood doctor, Owen Harper. Even if he is dead. The question is, will listening to Corpse Day be a day to remember, or is it just the corpse of a story?
Glynn Lewis is just putting up a spice rack when there’s a knock at the door. A knock that will bring a brutal end to his perfect family.
PC Andy is very excited. It’s Corpse Day – the day when the local constabulary get help on dead cases from Torchwood. This year, he’s volunteered to act as liaison, and he knows he’s going to have a brilliant time.
For Dr Owen Harper, today’s just like any other. There’ll be bloodshed, screaming and murder. At the end of it all, he doesn’t care. After all, life’s just for the living, and he’s long dead.
Who would have thought that Owen Harper of all people would be working for Queen Victoria? That’s exactly how this episode sets itself up; Owen is on a task from Queen Victoria and he’s been partnered up with PC Andy (much to Owen’s apparent reluctance) to doing a thing known as Corpse Day. A day set up by Queen Victoria in which Torchwood should liaise with the police to try and help them solve some dead cases. It seems reasonable enough.
Right from the off, it’s amazing how much chemistry there is between the two leads, Owen and Andy are more or less the antithesis of one another, yet within the first three minutes, you can tell that they’re going to work together beautifully. You know what they say; opposites attract. Owen’s scientific and methodical mind with PC Andy’s heaps of compassion are a great blend. I’m only three minutes into the story, and I already love it.
Once PC Andy and Owen are on the trail of a case, it’s not long before there’s some good and proper detective work, and a frequent buyer of dog food who doesn’t own a dog gives them a potential new lead. I’m also surprised that it’s taken over a year of Torchwood for their to be a proper mention of the TV regular, the Weevil’s. James Goss is really doing a good job of giving us fan service whilst not detracting from the story.
The dog food buyer is easily one of the most repulsive creatures that have ever been in a Big Finish release. I know I’ve said it before, but for me, seeing humanity at it’s worst is far more effective than having an alien threat in a story. You can maybe hate an alien species, but you can easily loathe a human. I have to commend James Goss for writing such a character unabashedly.
One aspect of the story that really comes to the fore is Owen’s skills as a doctor, whilst it’s in circumstances that nobody would find themselves in, Owen does do his job, and that’s extremely commendable. Especially when he learns the truth about one of the women’s pregnancy and the consequences.
Something that I genuinely didn’t expect was how much humanity Owen would have in this story. There’s an obvious moral dilemma that faces both PC Andy and himself, and I was surprised that Owen was the character that was seemingly more pro-life. Burn Gorman gives a great little speech about the importance of life, no matter what kind of life it is.
Even in the darkest or most surreal moments of this story, you can always count on PC Andy and Tom Price’s excellent delivery to lighten the mood. Even though the moments of light don’t last for long.
The conclusion of Corpse Day is somewhat of an unconventional one, but then again, I think it’s safe to say that this is somewhat of an unconventional release for Big Finish, even in the Torchwood range. If you think of Torchwood as being Doctor Who’s older brother, who knows how the world really works and understands that we live in universe where not everyone gets a happy ending, I’d say that you’re accurate. Corpse Day seems to go even further than that. The story is so dark and twisted, there were often moments I felt uncomfortable listening to the events unfold. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it. Sometimes, with art, you have to be uncomfortable. Art should, in my opinion, be made to provoke a reaction, whether it be positive or negative. James Goss has penned a story that definitely provoked reactions in me that I’d never felt towards a Big Finish release or an episode of Torchwood before. Big Finish often say that Torchwood is not suitable for younger listeners, and it’s definitely the case with this release. Don’t let the somewhat jovial synopsis or opening scene fool you into thinking that this is going to be a buddy comedy. It’s not. This release will make you question humanity, the ethics of life and remind you that even in a universe where there’s danger lurking around every corner, sometimes the most brutal aspects of the universe are just next door, putting up a spice rack.
Should you want to purchase Corpse Day, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £9.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.