Torchwood – “Ghost Mission”

Sergeant Andy Davidson has always wanted to join Torchwood. And now he finally gets his chance.

Under the strict observation of his Torchwood Assessor, Andy sets out to prove he’s got what it takes. When a chemical spill turns out to have serious consequences, when monsters roam the Bay, and when an ancient entity awakes, Andy decides he could do with a helping hand. The problem is his Torchwood Assessor doesn’t have any hands.

Norton Folgate is a ghost.

Tom Price is Andy Davidson in Torchwood: Ghost Mission.

X X X X X

Cast
Tom Price (Sergeant Andy Davidson)
Samuel Barnett (Norton Folgate)
David Warner (OAP)
Lisa Bowerman (Quite Anxious Shopper)
Laura Doddington andAaron Neil (The Graces)

Written by: James Goss
Directed By: Scott Handcock
Produced by: James Goss
Script edited by: Steve Tribe

Trailer – https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/popout/ghost-mission-1391

X X X X X

Torchwood: Ghost Mission is a hell of a lot of fun. A veteran Big Finish writer, a top notch script with a tight plot and some memorable moments, a beloved secondary character from the television series, an engaging counterpart, and a twist ending with a heartwarming finale moment all weave together to give listeners yet another Torchwood audio that earns high marks.

Andy Davidson had always been a by-the-book officer for the Cardiff police department obeying the orders of his higher-ups and focusing on following procedure over gaining attention and favor. Except when it came to Gwen Cooper, his ex-partner and one-time crush. If she needed help with regards to the activities of Torchwood Three, then he would do whatever he could to provide it provided it didn’t clash with his duties and responsibilities. While he enjoyed being a policeman, deep down inside Andy wanted to taste a little bit of the excitement and sense of responsibility that Gwen enjoyed as a member of Torchwood. Today, Andy will get his chance, as an assessor from Torchwood has arrived to follow him around over the course of his daily duties and see if he’s up to snuff. Over the next 24 hours, Andy will have to decide which is stranger – dealing with an alien goo that dissolves everything it touches, or the fact that his assessor is a ghost from the 1950’s…

James Goss has done it all. He’s scripted and directed several well received plays, ran the BBC’s Doctor Who website in the early 2000’s (the dark times before the broadcast of Rose), penned several novels and audiobooks for Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Being Human, helped to produce the Dark Shadows and The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield ranges for Big Finish, and has written for numerous other ranges including Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, Blake’s 7, and Iris Wildthyme. Goss also penned several Torchwood audios for the BBC before Big Finish obtained the license. With his extensive pedigree and experience, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that’s Ghost Mission is yet another solid effort from Big Finish. But this story goes above and beyond. To me, it ranks up there with Fall to Earth as the cream of the crop for the Torchwood range. Goss’ script expands on the character of Andy Davidson by putting him smack dab in the middle of yet another situation caused by the Cardiff Rift, but this time he’s the one on point. With a ghostly assessor staring over his shoulder, Andy must figure out how an overturned lorry containing a mysterious green goo that instantly dissolves anyone it comes in contact with ties into a warehouse fill with empty coffins, a hulking brute hell bent on killing him, and an abandoned church filled to the brim with ghosts all tie together. Ghost Mission manages to tie all these concepts together not only in a way that makes logical sense, but in a way that keeps the listener engaged the entire time. Even as Andy takes control of a crowd gathered around the crash scene, a poor citizen touches the goo and melts in front of everyone in a scene that somehow comes off as both horrifying and darkly hilarious. The warehouse sees Andy trying to deal with a monster that threatens to kill him by locking himself in a coffin, and his ensuing panic as he realizes there’s no way out. From there, it’s some brilliant police work from Andy that leads him to an abandoned church containing a horde of angry ghosts desperate to possess his body and the final piece of the puzzle lying in a basement crypt. Ghost Mission easily balances comedy, brutal action, moments of tension, and some genuinely creepy moments, such as Andy panicking as he runs out of air inside the coffin and a host of ghost who communicate via the lyrics to “Amazing Grace.”

What really helps to elevate the story is the instant chemistry between the two leads – Tom Price as Andy Davidson and Samuel Barnett as Norton Folgate, Torchwood assessor. The pair immediately click from the moment Norton interrupts Andy as he goes to talk to a pretty woman in the coffee shop. As a hologram “ghost” from the 1950’s, Norton can observe and judge Andy without being able to interfere and risk changing history in any way, shape, or form. Norton isn’t a just passive observer however. He’s also the sounding board for Andy as the policeman works out a problem while providing advice and words of reassurance during times of extreme stress. Samuel Barnett (Renfield from Penny Dreadful and the lead character in the upcoming Dirk Gently series) plays the assessor in a way that can only be described as “Sassy Gay Friend,” with a mix of camp, sophistication, and humor, including such lines as “well bend me over like it’s V-E Day.” Barnett plays off of Price so well that I would love to see/hear them in a future production of damn near anything. Of course, there is ONE thing…if Norton is there to assess Andy, why is he being so helpful? It leads to the twist ending, which ties back into the overall story arc of the Torchwood audios by featuring a cameo by none other than DAVID WARNER!

On the other side, Tom Price is eager to prove himself, but not at the expense of putting any life at risk other than his own…although a few times, he does encourage Norton to help him out so as not to put his OWN life at risk! Price is just fantastic as both a competent cop and someone who realizes just how over his head he is as the layers of the mysterious goo keep getting peeled back. Andy is good at what he does, but comes to grips with his limitations as the story progresses. What really impressed me is how well Price portrayed being a policeman, and how there are actual detective work and sleuthing that went along with how the story unfolded. Andy’s moments of “oh yeah, I’m brilliant” are a nice counterpoint to the “oh god oh god I’m going to die” scenes. It grounds the character as just another guy and not some super Torchwood agent (as much as Torchwood agents were ever portrayed as competent on the television series) and makes the very last scene, which ties back into the opening scene in the coffee shop, heartwarming moment.

Ghost Mission is another great Torchwood audio from Big Finish. An engaging plot mixes with the instant chemistry between the two leads, an unlikely hero and a temporal fish out of water, which provides some snappy dialogue and memorable moments. While the twist might be lost on those who haven’t listened to the other Torchwood audios, it is definitely worth the pickup for anyone who has heard any of the previous audios and are in the mood for one of the best releases the range has to offer.

Random Thoughts
– Andy talking to the hulking brute like a drunk Valley girl wandering Cardiff at 3 am, apparently an actual technique used by the local PD
– The choir of ghosts speaking in “Amazing Grace” lyrics is one of the most beautiful and haunting moments I’ve ever heard in a Big Finish audiobooks
– Andy dropping X-Files references vs. Norton quoting The Quatermass Experiment

Cobi’s Synopsis – Top-notch chemistry between the two leads combines with a great script and several memorable moments in Ghost Mission, providing Sergeant Andy Davdison a much deserved day in the limelight as he tries to prove himself worthy of joining Torchwood.

Next up – Suzie Costello would never describe herself as a hero. But she would say she’s someone who always makes the right choices…

Indira Varma is Suzie Costello in…Torchwood: Moving Target

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About cobiwann

A guy who's into a niche fandom of a niche fandom - the Big Finish audio plays of "Doctor Who." Also into the show itself, both old and new, plus pop culture and a smattering of human insight.
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