Wednesday, 30 November 2016

TORCHWOOD - OUTBREAK

Remember when Torchwood was event TV, remember when pretty much everyone you knew was into it, remember that summer of 2009 when Children of Earth was the only thing that seemed to be talked about in your workplace? Great times eh? One of those times when the “not we” finally appreciated what we had been going on about for all of those years – it didn’t last long, but for one glorious week the geeks had inherited the Earth.
 This months special release “Torchwood: Outbreak” does much the same – and I lay my claim on the phrase “event audio” because that is what this release is – its an event, its a blockbuster disaster/conspiracy movie condensed into audio format, it takes the characters we know and love Jack (John Barrowman), Gwen (Eve Myles), Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) & Rhys (Kai Owen) and it puts them through hell – literally hell on earth, completely through the wringer both physically and emotionally like they never have been before. The Outbreak is real, the danger is real the threat of armageddon has never been more close – and it all happens in Cardiff.
 I often hark back to Jon Pertwee’s “Yeti on the Loo in Tooting Bec” anecdote, and this has never been more true than with Outbreak – it takes place in a real, recognisable Cardiff, when Gwen tells Rhys on her phone that she is on Bute Street, I can picture it, when families speak of going to the betting shop or out for milk it adds a punch of reality – this is what real people do – but what is this armageddon that has befallen Cardiff? what is the Outbreak of the story title? It all begins with one man, one lone escapee from a medical trial loose on the streets of Cardiff. One man, patient zero to pretty much bring the City to its knees.
 The story is very “event”, very true to life with rolling news, interviews and fast cutting between the main players – remember how the epic Doctor Who finales were under Russel T Davies and you get the idea – Torchwood is RTD’s baby and the style of story telling is very much an homage to the great man. And so one man brings disaster to Cardiff, and he asks for Torchwood so PC Andy (Tom Price) involves Captain Jack Harkness – but Jack has seen this virus before and soon we are contending with a 60 year old conspiracy involving the mysterious Norton Folgate (Samuel Barnett) as well as Jack fighting the infection. As always the humanity and grounding of the story is brought to us via the relationship between Gwen & Rhys. Rhys is on his way back to Cardiff after being abroad driving & is caught outside the “ring of steel” that the army have erected to quarantine Cardiff, but he isn’t going to let a little thing like a quarantine get between him and being reunited with his wife. Whilst all the epic end of the world viral outbreak things are going on the story hits all the emotional points by making this all about the different lead characters relationships.
 The villain of the piece is one Frances Godalming (Marilyn Le Conte) an icy cold corporate mouthpiece for the medical research company responsible for the “good thinking” virus as we find out it is called, and sees the outbreak as an opportunity to further her career.
 Had this box set been a TV series it would no doubt have been “event TV”, but do you know, it is so good I will settle for event audio & pity the poor people who don’t get to listen to it. A non stop, knock down, drag out epic of a story – I can only hope we get more event audio very soon. From the disturbing beginning to Rhys’ determination to get in to Cardiff, to Gwen rallying the citizens like a welsh Boudicca, to the quieter moments with Jack & Ianto, this is full of classic punch the air moments and I will never look at parts of Cardiff in the same way again. An infectious 10/10.