Guest contributor Harvey Edwards begins a journey through Torchwood’s official continuation, with Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 1!
1. “Changes Everything” by James Goss
We’re back in Cardiff, and the opening episode of Torchwood: Aliens Among Us introduces us to a number of new characters. Mr Colchester is a grumpy civil servant, who’s been tasked by Jack and Gwen to help manage the new Torchwood, and is played brilliantly by Paul Clayton. Right from our first meeting with the character, we think we know the exact sort of person he is – only for this to be undermined later, when Colchester’s being questioned by journalist Tyler Steele.
Tyler’s a great new character, likeable and unlikeable at the same time, again played really well by Jonny Green. His chemistry with Jack and Gwen is great, and it’s through his eyes that we meet the new Torchwood. This is a really well-written story that sets up the future of Aliens Among Us, while remaining self-contained and being a great jumping-on point for people who haven’t seen or heard any Torchwood before.
2. “Aliens and Sex and Chips and Gravy” by James Goss
If you’re familiar with Torchwood on TV, this title will no doubt remind you of its first series. The episode is much the same, dealing with adult themes throughout. However, what distinguishes it from TV Torchwood is that it has a more mature approach to the mature subject matters. The episode focuses on Gwen and Colchester, tackling murderous aliens who’ve invaded a hen night.
What ensues is a funny, fast-paced romp that takes us all across Cardiff, and introduces us to the aliens who we’ll encounter later in the series, as well as hints about where Gwen’s headed in future boxsets. Another really strong entry for Aliens Among Us.
3. “Orr” by Juno Dawson
Juno Dawson’s Orr introduces us to the titular character. Similar to Changes Everything, this episode is focused almost entirely on Orr’s introduction. Orr is a very interesting character, and not much can be said about them without giving things away, but they’re played excellently by Samantha Béart. Béart manages to make an alien sexual psychomorph feel like a believable character, and this episode has something in common with the previous one, in that it tackles an adult subject matter with a level of maturity that we unfortunately never got on tv. Another stellar episode.
4. “Superiority Complex” by A.K. Benedict
The final episode of the first volume of Aliens Among Us gives the new Torchwood team of Jack, Gwen, Mr Colchester, and Orr a chance to shine. A new luxury hotel has appeared in Cardiff, with refugees right outside, and writer AK Benedict highlights this problem with another script that, apart from the aliens, feels like it could be a true story. Every member of the team gets a chance to shine here, including Tyler, who, while not a member of Torchwood, keeps popping up. This is a brilliant way to end a brilliant boxset, and it ends with an excellent cliff-hanger for the second volume.
Aliens Among Us 1 is a great introduction to the new Torchwood, and gives you everything you’d want – and more. It’s a boxset that shows that Torchwood is at its best on audio. With very politically charged stories, it would have been easy for these episodes to fall into the trap of putting the message first, but each of the three writers on this set deliver amazing stories that feel natural and real, and set up the Aliens Among Us story arc perfectly.
Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 1 is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com