Tuesday, 31 October 2017

TORCHWOOD - ALIENS AMONG US VOLUME 02

Those of you who have not heard volume one may wish to catch up – its available to buy HERE and my review is HERE, because this is a continuing story a real season five and what self respecting fan of a genre series would come to it five episodes in??? Also there will be some mild spoilers in this review for those of you who have not caught up with part one.
So Cardiff has basically been invaded, already taken over by aliens led by Ro-Jedda (Rachel Atkins) who has become the City Mayor, tensions are running high in Cardiff, racial hate crimes are spiralling out of control and the whole city has an air of impending doom as if the end of days is only a few moments away the population are on edge, the aliens are among us and it is only going to get worse.

And then there is Torchwood, the new revamped Torchwood rebuilt by Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and featuring new recruits Mr Colchester (Paul Clayton) and the alien Orr (Sam Beart) and ably assisted by Rhys Williams (Kai Owen), Sgt Andy Davidson (Tom Price) and the slimy and enigmatic Tyler Steele (Jonny Green)

But things are not quite right in Torchwood either, cracks are appearing and there is something just not quite right with Gwen Cooper. At a time that the team need to be more united than ever, at a time of impending crisis they seem to be falling apart.
Sounds grim? well it is, but in a good way if you know what I mean and the action really has stepped up a gear from the first box set, it seems more focussed, more character driven, more personal and more dangerous, this set comprises four stories:

5.5 Love Rat by Christopher Cooper

When Jack Harkness is killed by a frenzied man he picks up we know something is wrong.
When Jack Harkness tries to get intimate with everyone he meets this seems normal, but when Orr picks up all sorts of conflicting emotions from hime there is definitely something wrong..
What a very “Torchwood” story to open the set with, the sort of story that really wouldn’t have been out of place in the early part of Season One on TV involving a sentient alien STD trying to take over the world (the mind boggles) – What is amazing is that what could be played as a camp farce is played completely straight and that Torchwood are powerless to combat the threat on their own and have to go cap in hand to Ro-Jedda for a solution. The story weaves itself into and around the existing narrative of a city on the edge and plays on the desperation a disparate Torchwood beautifully – this new Cardiff is a world where Torchwood are not all powerful protectors…..

5.6 A Kill to a View by Mac Rogers

Bilis Manger (Murray Melvin) the creepy clock shop owner from Torchwood series One is back, this time as caretaker for the new apartment block that Mr Colchester and his husband Colin (Ramon Tikaram) have moved in to to keep Colin safe from racist attacks, a place of safety, a haven from the nightmare Cardiff has become. They couldn’t have picked a worse place, because Bilis has been nurturing the baser instincts of some of his tenants to become hunters and social climbers and the Colchester’s have the flat that Sandra (Diveen Henry) and Andrea (Ellie Haydon) are looking for and they intend to take it by force. A tense story reflecting the obsession we have of social climbing of being better than our neighbours, of having dinner parties where the participants are circling each other like sharks just waiting for the social faux-pas that will never be forgotten. This attitude is distilled into the psychotic Sandra & Andrea  meaning Colin Colchester may never feel safe again.
Murray Melvin has not lost any of the oily obsequiousness that characterises him – he has a plan and he is using the resident to carry it out. A real classic of a story.

5.7 Zero Hour by Janine H Jones 

There has been an exponential increase in couriers, they are all over the place in a way that they just weren’t a few years ago. One of these couriers is Hassan (Sacha Dhawan) a rather handsome young man who catches the eye of Tyler Steele. Hassan works for “Deliverables” an app based courier firm, delivers on the same route to the same places every single day sometimes more than once a day – Tyler finds this strange and contact Gwen Cooper and Torchwood to investigate and uncovers a monstrous conspiracy of virtual slave workers and the horror of the compulsory benefits package upgrade.
Torchwood is at its best when it takes the ordinary and makes it sinister and this is just what Janine H Jones does in this story – all those people, all those parcels all that repetitive movement all for a greater and far more sinister purpose than we could ever imagine.

5.8 The Empty Hand by Tim Foley

Sgt Andy Davidson is one of the good guys, the nice face of community policing, he would have been more at home as the village Bobby in the 1950’s than a city cop in the 21st century. So it is a massive shock when Andy wakes up in an interview room accused of shooting an innocent refugee in cold blood. And there is video footage to prove it. Thing is Andy really doesn’t remember doing it, and his left hand really hurts….
And just when Torchwood are trying to put a lid on this and investigate the video leaks it goes viral and there are protests on the streets. Andy is holed up in his home surrounded by press and protesters, but its ok because Rhys Williams is with him complete with crisps, dips and a six pack of beer, and Rhys also fancies sending out for a Chinese takeaway :-)
Tom Price as Andy and Kai Owen as Rhys make a fantastic double act, bringing some much needed light relief to a very bleak, very believable story – it really is Rhys’ humanity that shines through, a no nonsense bloke who just knows his mate Andy is not capable of doing what he did. Until the takeaway arrives….

A grim ending to a grim set with the truth seemingly sacrificed on the alter of the greater good and a cliffhanger that made me go cold.
Vastly improved from volume one, Aliens Among US has found its feet, the new team are working well together and the individual stories let each character have their moment in the spotlight – the overarching story of the alien run Cardiff and the Gwen situation are also given time to develop at their own pace and don’t feel tacked on to the actual episodes of the story. And then there is THAT cliffhanger that ends the set leaving me chomping at the bit for Vol 3. A well deserved 9/10.