Torchwood: The Green Life review

Continuing the curious yet rather fascinating run of Torchwood meets Doctor Who monsters is the wonderful The Green Life. It’s got Captain Jack, it’s got giant maggots, it’s got Jo Jones (Grant as was). Do you need to know more? Well it’s rather splendid and another David Llewellyn triumph. More? Well, let’s cover some ground…

The Green Life

As the title should imply, this is a continuation (in some form) of the Third Doctor story The Green Death. Here’s the set-up:

Many years ago Jo Grant met Professor Clifford Jones, fell in love and saved the world. It all happened in the idyllic Welsh community of Llanfairfach.

Josephine Jones has come back to Llanfairfach and she finds it a bustling place with a thriving economy. The little town is now at the spearhead of a healthy-eating revolution. And yet, something’s missing. It feels like the heart has gone out of the place.

She falls in with a dashing stranger and realises that although the past was a lot simpler, not everything’s changed. There’s still something nasty in the mine, and it’s been waiting for Jo for a very long time.

So. Not only maggots but a chance for Katy Manning to perform alongside John Barrowman. The story kicks-off with things already underway but there’s plenty of time for Jack and Jo to get to know each other as they try to find out just what is wrong with Llanfairfach. You might suggest it’s a clever way to bring backstory in without too much overt exposition, but it works well in this story. I personally liked how initially Jo and Jack don’t really get on, being from very different eras, and with different moral codes.

We get a Jo Jones very much a Jo Grant with the benefit of experience, Stewart Bevan as the Voice of the Hive (the in-story threat (not really a spoiler)) and a solid story that takes it’s own path between the slightly different approaches of the two parent shows. It’s very much a Torchwood story but also in a world clearly connected to the simpler times of the Third Doctor. It has lots of elements you might expect but doesn’t go for a simple ending, instead both heroes consider alternate perspectives on the same situation, both annoy each other and both end up respecting and admiring the other. Neither Jo, not Jack dominates and it’s a rare case of two heroes in one tale. A deft piece of writing and of course full-marks to the performers and direction of Scott Handcock.

It’s clearly begging for a further story but care should be taken not to spoil the idea as the continuity to Jo’s final TV appearance is a nice touch, and repetition might ruin the joy.

I also urge you to listen to the extras (I sometimes don’t) and find out just what the Jon Pertwee era meant to a six-year-old fan growing up in Scotland, and how honoured he feels to be performing with someone he admired for many years.

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