Torchwood – “Made You Look”

Torchwood – Release # 12
Written by: Guy Adams
Directed by: Scott Handcock
Performed by: Eve Myles, Kai Owen, Matthew Gravelle & Marilyn Le Conte
Duration: 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-78575-217-9
Chronology Placement: Talmouth, 2017 (takes place after “More Than This”)

Synopsis: Talmouth is a lonely seaside town. No-one has heard from it for days. No-one who goes in comes out. Something has happened to Talmouth. Has it been taken over by aliens? Or is it something far, far worse? Gwen Cooper’s come to Talmouth to find out. What’s happened has to be seen to be believed. But by the time you’ve seen it, you’re already dead.

This twelfth volume of the Torchwood monthly releases returns the focus to Gwen Cooper and her attempts to re-establish Torchwood in the present day with her husband Rhys following their experience in “Forgotten Lives”. Working as a bare-bones husband/wife operation means that Gwen doesn’t have the same support network and gadgets available to her nowadays so there is a heightened sense of danger as she embarks on a solo mission to the abandoned seaside town of Talmouth. Writer Guy Adams hits upon that distinct eeriness that comes from an out-of-season seaside town, a place that is usually so full of life reduced to a mere husk of its former self. The sound design from Steve Foxon is superb and manages to evoke nostalgic memories of visiting the seaside, eating too much candy floss and vinegary fish & chips. This choice of location is inspired and is integral to giving the episode its distinctive and creepy vibe.

Talking of creepy voices, Matthew Grevelle stands out with his performance as the disembodied voice that stalks Gwen throughout the adventure, teasing her and attempting to trick her into viewing his form three times. Again, this choice is inspired and the villain works perfectly on the audio, especially those moments where he whispers into Gwen’s ears. It’s like a terrifying AMSR video with a sinister, yet charming host. Grevelle clearly relishes the role and his performance drives the narrative forward and the back-and-forth between him and Gwen were the highlights of the episode. Eve Myles effortlessly steps back into her shoes as Gwen Cooper, and I love her juxtaposition between the domestic and professional. These adventures with her and Rhys as “Mr and Mrs Torchwood” have been fantastic and encapsulate the series’ Welshness. While Kai Owen is only a cameo in this story, the chemistry between him and Myles is awesome and communicates just as effectively on audio as it did on screen.

There is a haunting quality to “Made You Look” that feels typical of Torchwood and the idea of a ‘ghost town’ evokes memories of the Season One episode, “Countrycide”, albeit without that episode’s gruesome climax. Adams’ script is razor-sharp and capitalises on the audio aspect of the medium more than any of the previous adventures have. While this story could theoretically have been made for television, it would lose much of its impact if it was as the audio components work so perfectly. The central hook of a monster that kills you if you’ve seen it three times feels reminiscent of other Doctor Who monsters with similar “rules” such as the Weeping Angels or the Silence, so the mysterious voice fits into the wider tapestry of the series. Adams does a great job at building up the risk for Gwen, putting her in a situation that terrifies the usually unflappable Torchwood agent. However, after building up the voice as a near-omnipotent threat able to conjure up illusions, control cars and kill those who look upon him, his defeat doesn’t quite ring true.

Perfectly designed for audio, “Made You Look” is a genuinely eerie adventure that feels like the Torchwood equivalent of the Doctor Who episode, “Blink”. With a strong script that continues to build up an intriguing status-quo for the current-day incarnation of Torchwood, Guy Adams proves himself to be the definitive voice for Gwen and Rhys’ relationship. I’d love to see more adventures from the pair set during this period of time. Perhaps even under the name “Mr and Mrs Torchwood” – you can have that one for free, Big Finish! A stunning send-off for this second series of monthly releases, “Made You Look” is one of those adventures that proves how well Torchwood fits into the audio drama world.

Score – ★★★★ ½

Torchwood: Made You Look is available direct from Big Finish on physical CD or digital download. It can also be found on Amazon UK in the physical CD format.

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