Torchwood: Ghost Mission Review
Gustaff Behr gives his spoiler-free verdict on Andy Davidson’s audio return.
Big Finish has made a career out of redeeming characters who, in the audience’s mind, don’t even deserve a second glance. This is evident in Mel Bush, Nyssa of Traken, Osgood and Kate Stewart (in my ex-opinion) and most appropriately – the Sixth Doctor. They have not only redeemed these characters, but have gone to tremendous lengths to make audiences crave more of them. In my case, as an advent listener of Big Finish, I proudly declare that the hits far outweigh the misses. But I also say: I knew they’d slip up eventually.
Ghost Mission takes Andy Davidson, Gwen’s socially awkward friend/half-comic relief/half-something else and puts him through the Torchwood recruitment process. Thankfully this doesn’t involve a written test, just your run-of-the-mill highly dangerous field assignment. This involves teaming him up with a semi-helpful, but always entertaining to listen to sidekick/supervisor Norton Folgate, a ‘ghost’ from the Torchwood Institute in the 1950s. Seems a tad extreme using ‘time travel’ just to supervise a test if you ask me. How about predicting and preparing for the death and destruction of your institute?
Ghost Mission at its core feels like that page-length mathematics exam question which takes so long to complete, all for an answer you worked out in your head after studying the question for a minute. To make another long story short, Ghost Mission is a contrived tale whose only purpose is to answer one very important question/Committee tie-in near the end. That’s it. What could’ve been a simple throwaway line is given a full hour of storytelling time.
Getting to the actual story, it’s not very memorable, but the manner in which various obstacles are solved do have to be commended. I also praise the interaction between Andy and Norton. Despite my reservations, they do make a good team, though Samuel Barnett’s Norton steals the spotlight from Tom Price’s Andy in more scenes than I care to count. Norton himself at times feels like a discount-Jack Harkness, though he does possess his own unique quirk and charm which helps shrouds that comparison.
The script does dive into Andy’s motivation for joining Torchwood and sheds a little light on him as a person, but not enough to win someone like me over to his side. While I admire the background we’re privy too, Andy goes into the story one way and makes it out the other side exactly the same. Does he pass the Torchwood exam? Spoilers people!
If you were a fan of Andy on the television series, chances are good that you’ll enjoy his performance here, but this story doesn’t do a good enough job redeeming this character the same way Big Finish has done for Colin Baker’s Doctor who is not considered the best Doctor on audio or Osgood who many here know I used to dislike with extreme prejudice before UNIT: Extinction was released.
Ghost Mission is good, clean, popcorn eating fun. It’s not too serious and it’s not overly deep. It is what it is. But it is definitely the poorest story in series two so far, but maybe that will change next month when we visit whatshername…Suzie Costello! That girl Gwen replaced in series one, episode one. As of right now, I don’t know what to make of the news as like Andy, I don’t particularly care about Suzie, but then again, I didn’t care about Osgood either…and look what happened. Next month is Moving Target by Guy Adams.