We’re back with Ianto in this months Torchwood release, which, after last months experimental torchwood_cascade_CDRIP.tor, seems to be a lot more conventional. It’s been six monthly releases since we’ve had a Ianto release (not including the special box sets), so I think it’s about time we got to see exactly what he’s been up to, don’t you?
There’s an empty office block in Cardiff. That’s nothing special – plenty of businesses go under, clear out, cease to exist. All that’s left behind is an empty building. But there’s one office block that refuses to be forgotten about.
There have been stories about that building – strange lights, funny goings on, faces pressed up against the glass. Enough to get the locals worried. Enough to ask Torchwood to get involved.
It’s Friday night. Ianto Jones has better things to do with his time than look round a haunted building. But he goes anyway, and it turns out that The Office has been waiting for him.
I love a good Ianto story; and, to be fair, there’s yet to be a bad Ianto story from Big Finish. Both Fall To Earth and Broken are great, and I have to say that I have high hopes for The Office Of Never Was. Will third time be a charm though? I can only hope.
Straight from the very first second, you know this is going to be a spooky story, and James Goss knows how to throw you straight into the action. Ianto Jones is breaking and entering; and you know with this being a Torchwood story, that things can’t be as they seem. And they’re not.
It appears, on first inspection, that The Office Of Never Was is a Torchwood take on a haunted house story. A mix of Scooby-Doo and a really atmospheric thriller; if that’s not an apt description for Torchwood as a whole, I don’t know what is.
Around a quarter of the way in, Ianto meets another person in the office, and they too seem to have no idea how to escape. Together, they uncover some terrible truths and it seems that the office is far more than it seems. Somehow, the Office is controlling the voice in Ianto’s head. Spooky.
For me, Ianto was always the unsung hero of Torchwood Cardiff. From his humble beginnings serving tea to Jack and the gang, to being a badass, to being murdered in Children of Earth, Ianto was always dependably brilliant; and James Goss makes sure you know it in this story. Ianto goes all sleuth in one scene, and deduces a hell of a lot about a person from their gym clothes, it’s almost like he’s giving Holmes a run for his money, and I love it.
The Office of Never Was is so brilliantly infuriating, as every time you think you’re about to get an answer as to what’s exactly going on, Goss throws in another question or three. It’s like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit on a treadmill. Take a minute to visualise that. It’s cruel, but you still try to get that carrot. And yes, you’re a rabbit now. Thanks James Goss, for making me a metaphorical rabbit.
In the final act, when Ianto finds out exactly who or what’s behind the goings on at the office, there’s a great intellectual showdown between Ianto and his opponent; although at times it does feel slightly too obvious in regards to how the exposition was revealed. A monologuing evil is commonplace in these type of stories, and it does feel ever so slightly cliched at times.
The conclusion of The Office of Never Was seemed a little off to me, and I don’t know why. I think the way that Ianto got out of the situation was a lot more Jack’s style than Ianto’s, and it just felt off to me. I think that the fact the ending seemed a lot more human than I expected also threw me off slightly as well; which is a shame, because up to that point, this was one of the most atmospheric Torchwood stories to date, in any medium.
Overall, The Office of Never Was is a really good story, especially in premise; I’m surprised that it’s taken this long for Big Finish to do a Torchwood haunted house story; but I think that on the whole, it was worth the wait. Personally, I think the sound design and the story lends to being listened to with headphones, for full immersion; trust me, it’ll make you sweat with fear…
Should you want to purchase The Office of Never Was, it’s currently available from Big Finish for £9.99 on CD or a £7.99 download which you can purchase here.