Death in Venice

Posted in Audio by - September 25, 2022
Death in Venice

Released September 2022


Since leaving the Doctor’s company, Ace has dedicated herself to doing whatever she can to help people in need across the globe. Yet despite her immense work as the head of A Charitable Earth, someone wants her dead, and Mr Colchester of Torchwood must try to keep both of them alive in James Goss’s ‘Death in Venice.’

Given the tight and tense confines Ace and Mr Colchester found themselves in during the events of ‘The Red List,’ ‘Death in Venice’ is able to amplify the scope and action while still making the most of the unique relationship that developed between the two, a friendship of sorts with an uneasy and tenuous professional trust at its core. Unfortunately, Ace’s whole world has been upended, and her implicit optimism is being tested as her charity is in trouble and it seems that powerful figures want her permanently eliminated. She certainly doesn’t trust Torchwood, and there are quite powerful discussions about the reality of the aftermaths of the Doctor’s interventions that Ace so rightly holds in high regards as well as just why Torchwood in its current state exists. In fact, the rather oppressive reality within which Ace must work to ensure her good deeds can continue, always watching where she is and whom she is with so as not to create any sort of misguided media firestorm or public relations disaster, are a stark reminder of how detached the Doctor can sometimes be from everyday affairs. Though she must always fight through bureaucracy and corruption to achieve any semblance of good, she has learned through previous mistakes that each of her actions is subject to scrutiny and that nothing can be completely walked away from at any stage like when she was aboard the TARDIS.

Naturally, this rather cautious outlook contrasts quite distinctly with the more lavish proclivities of Mr Colchester, but events unfolding in Venice where he once honeymooned with Colin allows for a fairly substantial bit of introspection and reflection for this man who likewise proves himself to be quite adept at adapting to and directly confronting danger in order to keep Ace one step ahead of their pursuers. Ace initially questions whether Torchwood might be after her charity, but she soon realizes that Colchester is acting in earnest and that there are far more insidious forces at work. A character quirk through which she prefers to work in a paperless fashion becomes all the more profound as the scale of an alien invasion is revealed, and Sophie Aldred and Paul Clayton are superb together as Ace and Colchester reflect upon their individual histories to forge the best path together by navigating the death and dangers around them. ‘Death in Venice’ carries a constant sense of oppressive inevitability due to the means of invasion and the omnipresence of global interconnectedness via social media and the Internet, and that growing tension at the heart of an action-packed story brimming with a surprising amount of reflection and a bevy of tremendous visuals makes for a wonderfully engaging experience that brings Torchwood and Doctor Who together in a completely organic manner. These two characters are so strong and developed and the actors so gifted that it’s no wonder they should be reunited for this tale, and hopefully this is a proof of concept that will allow them to feature together more in the future as well.

As an addendum, Big Finish has also this month released the free ‘A Postcard from Mr Colchester’ by James Goss, a short monologue delivered by Paul Clayton about a recent alien invasion that is peppered with his character’s own insightful outlook on the world and the current state of affairs. Torchwood is above politics and exists to protect the world from alien incursions, but in the span of just a few moments he touches on the many different viewpoints present within society, the pervasiveness of certain thoughts through social media, and the general sense of despair that can take hold in a general population despite what he optimistically believes is a strong desire to be good and peaceful. This is surprisingly insightful and emotional given its brevity and proves to be an intriguing character piece that touches on lesser-seen aspects and thoughts of the beloved Mr Colchester.

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