Lost Souls

For those of you who didn’t know about it, this is a review of the special Torchwood radio play broadcast last Wednesday to link in with the launch of the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. I think it is the first time since Slipback that a radio play has been broadcast which fits directly into the continuity of the Whoniverse (with perhaps a nod also to Whatever Happened to Susan?). It is the first time that a Whoniverse drama has been written to fit into current affairs as far as I know (unless you count Halley’s Comet in Attack of the Cybermen, or the Christmas episodes of 1966 and the years since 2005).

Most Torchwood fans will (and should) love this – written by Joe Lidster, bringing the surviving members of the team together with Martha Jones to face an alien threat. Lots about dealing with the deaths of Owen and Toshiko, and (in a nod to series 1 continuity) Lisa the Cyberwoman. The plot is fairly standard, and certainly I worked out what was going on long before the characters did, but it is nice to hear our old friends again doing what they do best.

I was amused by a couple of environments referenced in the play which would be alien to many listeners but with which I am actually very familiar – the aeroplane flying to Geneva, and the ambassadorial reception. Who has a long history of association with Geneva, going back to The Tenth Planet, and later as the global headquarters of UNIT (oddly not mentioned as such here; one gets the impression that Martha and her boss have come into CERN from elsewhere). But this is the first Whoniverse story to be substantially set in Switzerland.

The ambassadorial reception scene was basically there for a couple of funny lines. I attend them once or twice a month, on average; Brussels is well supplied with such events, since many countries have separate missions to Belgium, NATO and the EU. In Geneva I should think things are more complex, since most countries will have relatively small missions to cover a vast range of activities – ranging from the World Trade and Health Organisation to the UN High Commissioners for Refugees and Human Rights, to the little-known disarmament conferences. I imagine the Geneva diplomatic corps gets to cover CERN too.


As more than one person has noted, the two key science points of the play are total rubbish. If you remove neutrons from an atom (let alone a person), it will disintegrate catastophically rather than just glow in the dark (Isaac Asimov tries a similar line in The Gods Themselves, but with slightly better handwaving). And ramming a beam of anti-protons into a beam of protons isn’t exactly the opposite of ramming two proton beams into each other. But since the story basically revolves around these two crucial bogus scientific points, I think the sane and sensible thing to do is treat them along the lines of the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “laser capable of emitting a beam of pure anti-matter”. And anyway this is a tale of evil cross-dimensional beings pretending to be the souls of the recently departed, so insistence on scientific accuracy isn’t a very sensible starting point.

Anyway, it livened up my commute this morning.

One thought on “Lost Souls

Comments are closed.