Monday, 6 July 2009

Torchwood radio plays

Asylum: A young girl with a strange way of speaking is arrested for shoplifting; and promptly picked up by Torchwood for carrying what looks like a lasergun.

I really enjoyed this: I thought Frieda's speech was fascinating, with its mix of Scandinavian and slang words.

I was interested in all the techniques the writer used to wind up the tension. Because Frieda is underage, the police get involved and stay involved; and their agenda for her is different to Torchwood's. Because she's a teenager (and she's frightened) she sometimes acted irratically, or illogically. She had lost her memory -- it returned gradually over the course of the show, but each fragment was more horrifying than the last.

Golden Age: Thousands of people have been disappearing in Delhi, and rift energy is apparently responsible. The team discovers that it centres on the Indian Torchwood -- which Jack thought he closed down 80 years ago.

Of the three, I enjoyed this the least -- I found it hard to sympathise with the illusive Duchess; and I found all the 'Have you got anything weird here?' 'Let me show you the kitchen' building search a bit tedious. It pulled no punches where British Empire views on women were concerned (Gissing's patronising treatement of Gwen) and on India and Indians. I wasn't emotionally engaged by the team's efforts; I felt as if they were going after the Duchess, not trying to save the vanished people.

The Dead Line: Answering the phone puts people in a coma-like trance. Torchwood's investigation becomes personal when Jack picks up his phone.

This was very exciting -- I loved Gwen's efforts to protect Rhys; and the confusion this causes. It's interesting how a plot can hinge around a phone call (or not being able to make a phone call). A phone ringing is the ultimate aural cue, as well. It dominates everything -- you can't ignore it -- and to have it induce fear in people is very effective.

I liked how the scene in the abandoned Cardiff and West office was set using a foul smell -- not visual, but it gets the characters talking.

You can catch the three Torchwood plays on BBC Radio 4.

And Tim over at Heropress has reviewed them in his post Torchwood for the Ears.

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