Another Man’s Shoes

Posted in Audio by - February 24, 2019
Another Man’s Shoes

Released February 2019

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Body swapping is one of the most trusted tropes in science fiction, forcing one character to experience life from the perspective of another and often growing as a person or at least gaining a deeper understanding of the other in the process. Tim Foley’s “Another Man’s Shoes” maximises that potential as no fewer than three such swaps have mysteriously occurred, and with Ng afraid that she just may know what is going on, Jack and Colchester, Yvonne and Andy, and Norton and Tyler are about to have very atypical days.

Each of these three scenarios is developed to be tonally and narratively unique from the others, and although all of them are laden with a uniquely specific set of emotions, Jack and Colchester easily carry the most sentimental storyline which is lifted by a wonderful performance from John Barrowman in particular. Jack, of course, has something of a recent history with Colin, but Colchester rightfully insisted that Jack keep a respectful distance upon his unexpected return. However, when Jack in Colchester’s body wakes up next to Colin who is anticipating a grand birthday celebration, he must reconnect with Colin while gaining an unprecedented appreciation for Colchester’s methods as he tightropes his way through a packed schedule planned far in advance. This love story has been an unexpected foundation upon which Colchester’s life with Torchwood has been contrasted and developed, and experiencing the more freewheeling Jack trying his best to live up to Colin’s lofty expectations of his husband while making a few mistakes along the way and even going against Colchester’s insistence that Jack tell Colin he is postponing his birthday until their situation is fixed is an intriguing means of developing both in a short space of time while using Colin as a very personal common ground upon which they can both relate and be concerned.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tyler and Norton share the most comedic of these storylines as Norton learns just how advanced dating technology now is and how easy and fast it is to find and meet other interested individuals. Norton being of shorter stature than Tyler, he is enraptured by his new physical form and quickly alters Tyler’s own anger into a feeling of inescapable curiosity as the two explore their new situations. For Norton, however, this is only the beginning, and he uses newfound apps to begin a whirlwind of hookups that boggles Tyler’s mind. To be sure, Tyler must be horrified knowing what is happening to his body without his consent or control, and this is the one aspect that the story could have delved into more to give a more profound emotional impact even if it meant creating a significant fissure between the two going forward. Instead, Norton learns that even the fast-moving present has its limits with speed and commitment, and Samuel Barnett and Jonny Green give immense performances to vividly portray this most unique situation.

Fortunately, this story is not all standalone, and Yvonne and Andy give this narrative a definite placement and progression. Andy is arguably the one wholly good person in the Torchwood universe, maintaining his principles and sense of right even when confronted with the inexplicable and horrific over and over again. Yet his association with Torchwood has given him a public notoriety with his future in the force hinging upon a performance review. While there is little doubt that Andy has the humility and compassion needed to at least stand a chance in this situation, Yvonne as Andy is something altogether different, and her brash bravado, confidence, and liberal use of retcon to start afresh provide a rude awakening for Yvonne who is so infrequently not in complete control of everything around her. Conversely, Andy learns of Yvonne’s involvement with the Committee and its foreseen devastation of the world, tying in the Torchwood body swaps to a more nefarious scheme to occur when the appointed time comes. This is a fleeting tease at best, but this hint at what the future holds is a most welcome development that further solidifies the profound importance of this segment.

With Ng likewise coming to terms with who she now is as her past catches up with her, it’s unsurprising that each of these segments leaves the listeners wanting more given just how much is covered so quickly. While ultimately only the Yvonne and Andy storyline will likely carry any meaningful weight going forward, the entire production is carried by strong performances and direction that maintain a sense of verisimilitude despite the swaps and uncertainty that naturally arises. There were undoubtedly more profound avenues that any of these storylines could have pursued in depth, but the end result is nonetheless and enjoyable and unique series of insights into this new array of Torchwood regulars.

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