In a bold stroke, the Big Finish Torchwood range grabs the headlines in Forgotten Lives, with two returning characters and sets a high-tide mark. We get Eve Myles and Kai Owen back as husband and wife Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams, and learn this story is set years after Miracle Day.
Emma Reeves (prolific writer for BBC, including Tracy Beaker) gives us a wonderful story and there is also a sublime performance by Philip Bond as Griffin. More on that later. There will be spoilers.
This makes all of TV Torchwood canon (in case we wondered if Big Finish might stay inside the first two series) and opens the door a host of further stories.
The synopsis gives plenty of clues:
It has been four years since the Miracle, and Gwen and Rhys’s lives have gone back to normal, very normal. They’re raising their daughter (they’ve got pictures they’d be only too happy to show you), they’re living in a nice house, and they’re almost on top of the laundry.
Captain Jack Harkness has been missing from the world and their lives for a long time. But late one night the phone rings, and they’re summoned to an isolated part of North Wales. The Bryn Offa Nursing Home contains a dark secret, an alien threat, and someone who really shouldn’t be there.
Gwen and Rhys are about to discover that Torchwood stays with you for the rest of your life.
The story gets Gwen and Rhys together as they follow up a mysterious phone call and are faced with a surprised – in the institute for patients with mental health problems, and one in particular, old man Griffin claims to be Captain Jack! The plot spends some enjoyable time digging up some alien tech to treat the now withered Harkness before spelling out the threat of a new alien race, The Evolved!
The resolution involves confrontation and sacrifice before Gwen and Rhys get to return to their family, their child and also the promise they might restart Torchwood itself!
Emma Reeves has produced a wonderful story. The concept of Jack being old is simple yet clever, and even if it is more complex than that, the idea is sound. The dialogue is pure Jack and Philip Bond is outstanding. Hearing Gwen and Rhys back is also great, even if Eve occasionally doesn’t sound quite as she did five years ago. The plot is intimate and pure Torchwood, even if it doesn’t add a lot to the overall arc of the Committee. The extras make it clear the main cast are over-joyed at coming back to the characters and the setting allows for all sorts of continuation , never mind the multi-cast possibilities we hope will be realised in the next series.
[pullquote]Long live Torchwood![/pullquote]
On the strength of this the potential is fantastic, the immediate rush to produce the second series must be encouraging, and the possibilities are as endless as the imagination of the writers. Long live Torchwood!