Saturday, 30 January 2016

TORCHWOOD - UNCANNY VALLEY

John Barrowman makes his return as Captain Jack Harkness in this month’s Torchwood release, and like his first appearance in the audio series this is quite a difficult release to review. Jack is a many faceted character, he has depth and the wisdom of ages, and a weariness that only immortality can bring. Jack can “see”, he is tenacious, and this story examines his tenacity and his manipulative side.
Uncanny Valley is an extremely uncomfortable story, it concerns the idea of self and identity and the boundaries that these concepts impose upon us. It feels like you really shouldn’t be listening to it, that the events taking place are of a private and intimate nature and that we are spying unwanted and unnoticed on a private conversation – and this story is just that: a conversation between Jack Harkness and Neil Redmond (Steven Cree) and a character I can only refer to as “NJ” for fear of spoilers.
Investigating the mythical “committee” that has been a thread throughout the preceding Torchwood stories, Jack is intrigued by reclusive billionaire Neil Redmond… you see Mr Redmond has not been seen for years after a traumatic car accident – but now he has emerged from his self-imposed exile and looks and sounds much better than he ever did before his accident. Can the committee be involved in his seemingly miraculous recovery, or is there a darker and more twisted secret that Neil Redmond is keeping? Dripping with a delightfully unsettling atmosphere charged with an electric tension, this story really pulls no punches as first Neil’s voyeristic desires and Jack’s carnal urges are tempted and tested, used and thrown aside – both characters have their souls bared in this intimate and destructive conversation.
Uncanny Valley may be many things, but a barrel of laughs it is not – and that is no bad thing. After the high-camp of last months “One Rule” this is something much more cerebral which may not be to everyone’s tastes, it could be a story to be appreciated rather than enjoyed, but as a two-hander it ticks all the boxes.
8/10.