"How I Conquered the World" Excellent story and I agree that it's thought provoking. At one point there is a line about how easy it is to get "cancelled". That and the allusions to how a thoughtless behavior years earlier can have repercussions. It almost felt like it was making a point about Barrowman here. How that point is meant, whether in support of him or not, may depend on your feelings when listening to the story. I don't know if that was meant as part of the story, but I certainly thought it.
Living life by technology continues to be a theme here, just as it was in the previous story, only this time we see how it affects characters in a more traditionally told piece. Tyler, Orr, Ng and the mighty Colchester are enbroiled in this very sinister story, made all the more so because the way people are enslaved - and in some cases replaced - by their phones etc: technologies we depend upon daily. Mr Colchester's disdain in wonderful, and close to my own for such things - were I not so dependent on my own broadband/phone/social media. And that's the thing. This future is only a stone's throw away. Lifestyle according to subscribers. The daily mission to improve on yesterday's 'likes'. It's all used to unsettling effect here.
The standard of these stories is extremely high. Some talk nostalgically of Big Finish's 'good old days', but with Torchwood, tales are consistently being told that are challenging and brilliant, set in a world that is big and scary and not a million miles from our own. In this range, the good old days are still very much with us. Characters are flawed and interesting, larger than life often, but recognisably human.
First of all, it's nice to hear the fabulous Yvonne proclaiming 'I'm having a Harkness moment.' As a sidebar, now the influential RTD is once more in charge of Doctor Who, might he do the impossible and bring back Captain Jack, for these audios at least?
Anyway, while I don't rate this quite as highly as the previous two stories, there's no shame in being the least effective entry into such a high quality set, and there are some great moments among these wonderful characters. This is more of a runaround than of late, but still with some very current real-life, erm, issues being addressed and cleverly given the Torchwood treatment. I've noticed that, since the Double release, TW's stories seem to have become tighter, less frivolous and more 'relevant' - leading me to believe (mistakenly) there had been a change of line-up in the production crew; but I'm not sure this range has ever been quite so strong. Good use is made of everyone, even Tyler has a moment of niceness. All fascinating characters, and this is a world where there is a palpabale threat everywhere, in everyone's homes, on their phones, PCs and clouds.
By the end of this episode, Yvonne's had an enjoyable face-off with the main antagonist, and it seems the pieces are put in place for the finale, coming next, which I won't be able to listen to until next week
This series of Torchwood has definitely been the best (including series 1-4)! It delivers on the promise of more adult Doctor Who in the best way possible, dealing with racier subject matter at times and more real-world issues without being juvenile (unlike say "Day One"). The characters made specifically for audio have really come into their own. When Aliens Among Us first came out, I never would have thought that I could accept a Torchwood Three team without Jack or Gwen but this team has continued to surprise me. Hopefully there will be another series.
A word about Janet Ellis. She's phenomenal: an actress and presenter engraved on the hearts of many. I don't overstate this. Many years ago, when she was a presenter on BBC TV's flagship children's show Blue Peter, she courted notoriety by becoming the first host to end her lauded run by becoming pregnant - gasp - out of wedlock. Intelligent, down to earth and genuinely lovely, it's slightly odd to hear her playing a version of her television persona as a bit of a wise-cracking diva. But then, it's 'acting', and she's a coup for BF. Their promotional blurb for this story was not overselling its praise of her.
All gushing aside, The Apocalypse Starts at 6PM by James Goss brings this excellent set to a close in a typically unexpected manner. How (a version of) daytime ITV copes with Torchwood and the end of the world, where baby of the day, little angel Tommy might well bring about the end of everything. Squeezing the great face-off between the main parties onto Janet's TV sofa isn't the most sensational of finales, but does nicely exploit of the perceived stupidity of the populist telly viewer. This means that the climax is a lot of exposition, which is not exactly underwhelming, but reserved and reflective. Yvonne's lines about the Doctor are very effective, as she seemingly prepares to disappear - just as 'Friend' plans her next fight. This reassures me there'll be more of this Torchwood stuff.
Janet Ellis performs really well, as the centrepiece of this unusually small scale finale. I liked how the team came together at the end, and the solution did tie in well to this range’s theme of how angry the world has become.
Overall, Among Us was a good series. A nice mixture of anthology and arc. I hope we get more from this era sooner rather than later; I really like these characters and want more of them working together.
Post by masterdoctor on Sept 14, 2023 19:46:57 GMT
And finished the set last night so my thoughts on each story...
How I Conquered the World by Tim Foley, Ash Darby and James Goss:
Unfortunately, I thought this was a bit of a dud. The central performance from Mia Hope as Friend is great, and I genuinely think Friend is one of the best Torchwood big bads we've had, but this felt like a short trip/30 minute story stretched out to an hour. There is just not enough there imo to justify how long it is, and honestly doing two half hour stories could have been a great mixup in format. Probably one I'll give a miss when I relisten to the series.
Doomscroll by Ash Darby:
Poor Tyler, he really seems to get put in the ringer more than most of the team, what with this and Hostile Environment. The whole team (sans Yvonne) working together is really well done here, with them separated but much like many of us came to do in the pandemic, keep connected through video calls. The story itself is really good as well, starting as a satire of influencer culture, but evolves into a more sympathetic portrait of why influencers do what they do, and how it can affect those around them. A real highlight of the series!
Heistland by Tim Foley:
While I can objectively agree that episodes like Doomscroll are better, Heistland is my favourite of the set, and maybe the series as well. I love a good heist film, and Foley's ear for whip smart dialogue is on full force here. I also loved getting to follow Rhys and Kristin in Iceland, and I truly hope that we can get an Iceland spin-off set, at least for a one-off special. It also flys by, with a slightly shorter runtime, but one that doesn't even feel like 50 minutes.
The Apocalypse Starts at 6pm by James Goss:
A very solid finale, but I'll be honest, it felt a little anti-climactic. A lot of it is fantastic, like Janet Ellis, who gives one of Torchwood's best guest performances period, but there isn't much of a resolution to the series arc, and feels like we are getting a Series 8 where Friend is actually defeated, which I'm ok with, but still leaves a little bit of a bitter taste. Though at the same time, I do enjoy the smaller scale nature of it just being on the set of Janet's show.
7.9 How I Conquered the World by Tim Foley, Ash Darby and James Goss.
Mia Hope's synthesised voice for 'Friend' is a wonderful mix of irritatingly cutesy ("I am working sooooi hard to make everyone happy,") and child-like. The idea of 'Friend' is excellent: a kind of Facebook/Twitter's saccharine younger sibling, one with a child's naivety and petulance. It's an interesting combination, and more than a little unsettling. I suppose the notion makes me happy-angry. So much of it is excellent - the robotic voices mis-inflections when delivering important messages is genuinely hilarious. So much of it is bitingly accurate, exploring a future that might already be here. So what happens when Social Media gets left behind? If it feels ... wronged? All it can do is observe human behaviours through it's own rhetoric. The results are incredibly well observed. A broadband Frankenstein's Monster, but whereas the mishappen creature learned to hate humankind, 'Friend' targets Torchwood. Well, it would, wouldn't it? Slightly one-note this maybe, the overall style unchanging and proving to be a bit much at times, this is nevertheless a terrific and thought-provoking opener to this finale set of the series.
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I just listened to How I Conquered the World today and I had comment. Hearing so much of 'Friend' really creeped me out. "More than a little unsettling" indeed. I had to pause it at times because it was getting to be a bit much. I presume that was the intention.
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