REVIEW: Torchwood, Red Skies

Torchwood: Red Skies 
by Joseph Lidster
May 1/3 on Download/CD

Back in The Seventies, the then Doctor Who script editor Douglas Adams toyed with the idea of a story featuring the The Doctor turning his back on saving worlds, civilisations and people he'd barely met and having a "day off"; taking a holiday from his hobby of universe~saving. Well, it seems Captain Jack has had the same idea...

Red Skies sees Harkness feeling a little tired of the human race (well, that's Miracle Day for you*) and finding solitude on the planet of the "fit" (his words), Cotter Paluni’s World - a planet surrounded by deadly scarlet lightning and cut off from the entire universe. It also features a pasty~skinned population that worship Torchwood and those who speak against are punished (comment, much?). And so Jack finds himself at the heart of a mystery, rather than relaxing - just why does the planet know about him and his operation?

It's an unusual story, for Torchwood, but does the usual tone jumping from Captain Jack in humorous form ("I never miss an opportunity to be naked!") to some dark imagery from the man's mind (mainly down to guilt caused by his actions we've witnessed over the years).

For fans there's references to Suzy Costello, Ianto (whatever happened to him?), The 4,5,6 (from Children Of Earth) and The Blessing (Miracle Day) as well as quite a pleasing nod to the 1999 New Year's Eve flashback from the Series 2 episode, Fragments. There's also a mention of Gwen, but I shan't go into that... #spoilers

Author Joseph Lidster, writer of the Torchwood episode A Day in the Death, three top stories from The Sarah Jane Adventures and a number of Big Finish Doctor Who audios, has delivered a very different kind of Torchwood tale. It's really a Captain Jack story; a story where he comes face to face (well, metaphorically) with his demons. Lidster focuses on his character wonderfully, utilising the show's history (not just mere references) to become part of the story.

There's gags as well as demons, and I certainly chuckled at a mention of "Hen Nights in Cardiff" along with television quiz show, Catchphrase.

Special mention must go to John Telfer, the man who voices Red Skies. Usually, these exclusive audio adventures would feature an actor or actress from the world of Doctor Who or Torchwood but here the production team have made a bold move and gone for out and out vocal talent rather than connection (not to say that's a bad thing). Telfer's skills as an actor shine through and is a absolute treat to listen to. But, best of all, is his Captain Jack. He perfectly captures Barrowman's cadence and conjures Jack at every turn.

Red Skies, as I stated, is not your traditional Torchwood; it's set on another planet, for example (lordy knows how the Cardiff loving fans feel about that). It's a fascinating character piece that fleshes out a sometimes rather two~dimensional man. A great production and engaging story make this a must buy for fans.

Thanks to AudioGO

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