Thursday, 19 November 2015
REVIEW - TORCHWOOD: FORGOTTEN LIVES
For the first time this series, as opposed to stepping back in time, Torchwood instead fastforwards by visiting Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams five years after Miracle Day. Jack is missing, the Committee are at it again and why exactly is someone who isn’t John Barrowman claiming to be Captain Jack Harkness?
Fall to Earth is a lot like The Zygon Inversion. Both are very good stories and are tough acts to follow. But if there’s anyone who can avoid pulling a Sleep No More, it’s Gwen and Rhys. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
Forgotten Lives is hit and miss on multiple levels. It’s inferior to Fall to Earth and The Conspiracy, and if I may be so bold, it’s actually a very poor Torchwood story in general. While it’s easy to praise Kai Owen and Eve Myles for so effortlessly stepping back into their roles – it is one of the few things that can save this story –but Forgotten Lives comes across as juggling a bunch of clever ideas, but not having learnt how to put the ideas down one at a time without dropping the others still in the air.
One of the main problems with this story is “Jack Harkness”, or rather the elderly man who summons Gwen and Rhys, claiming to be Jack Harkness’s mind in another person’s body. I’m not gonna tell you if this is some clever way at working Jack into the story without Barrowman in the studio or some sly bait thrown at the fans hoping they’d bite and buy the story. In the words of River Song: Spoilers!
What I can tell you is that Philip Bond doesn’t play a noteworthy Jack. His accent is all over the place and the characterization of Jack Harkness is a joke. He’s incompetent and idiotic in most of his scenes, bordering on putting listeners off this story entirely. In truth, it took me three tries before I could finish this story, which helps explain why this review is so late.
As I mentioned, this story tries to juggle some big ideas. The Evolved are aliens who can transfer people’s minds into other people which on its own is already enough story material to base a whole miniseries off of. Constraining such an extravagant idea to one story with a lot of lagging in the middle feels like a waste.
Fans hoping for some kind of closure to the awful cliffhanger featured at the end of Miracle Day, I’m sorry to say that you’re in for a big disappointment. Worthwhile references to Miracle Day are scarce or cheap attempts at continuity; the only one being that at some point Jack discovered that the Three Families were controlled by the Committee, which is just an okay way of retconning Miracle Day into the Torchwood audios. If you were hoping to hear what happened to Rex Matheson and his immortality, you’d have better luck asking Russell T Davies.
Next month we step back in time to 2005 and join Yvonne Hartman in Torchwood: Rule One. 26th of March 2005 it’s the day that everything changes.