The Restoration of Catherine

Posted in Audio by - June 30, 2024
The Restoration of Catherine

Released June 2024


Sergeant Andy Davidson and Norton Folgate, easily one of Big Finish Torchwood’s most dynamic duos, find themselves trapped inside a 1660s house in ‘The Restoration of Catherine’ by James Goss as the prospect of an impending wedding threatens all of time.

Though Torchwood perhaps too heavily equated a more mature angle and exploration of the Doctor Who universe with sex early on, the franchise as a whole still occasionally dabbles with very sex-centric stories, and the rompy ‘The Restoration of Catherine’ is certainly one of the most overt to do so in some time. Unfortunately, while the initial mystery of the time bubble that sees certain connections to the modern day subsist is a fascinating one and while the core dilemma of Catherine needing to choose a husband before midnight as mandated through a will is dramatic and emotional enough, having the story devolve into Norton and both suitors give into their inner desires for a surprisingly substantial portion of the runtime- eventually to the chagrin of Norton as events and emotions spiral- ends up harming the overall progression of the plot rather than elevating it. This is perhaps worsened by the fact that Shai Matheson as Sir Reginald Hardgoing and George Naylor as Squire Edmund Dashington, though charismatic, purposefully given scenery-chewing performances that create caricatures at best and give little sense of depth or nuance to these characters while also giving little sense of actual drama to Catherine’s decision. The question of whether two out of two men presented in this particular time period would so willingly throw away future prospects and possible social standing to follow those feelings so overtly due to the outsider Norton is also a nagging one that simply portraying this story as a romp doesn’t quite excuse.

More intriguing is Andy’s inadvertent entrance into the discussion for Catherine’s hand in marriage as Norton and he look to escape a storm. Ostensibly called ‘Normal Andrew’ in comparison to the two other figures vying for her love, Andy of course has no real interest in these events beyond how they may help him return to his own time; while Catherine likewise has no greater interest in Andy than in Reginald or Edmund, Andy’s attempts to drive both of the suitors closer to success in order to get the resulting wedding and thus the flow of time back on track as well as his own eventual proposal to her when all other hope seems lost present a certain strength of character. Indeed, Tom Price gives a comparatively earnest performance throughout to highlight Andy’s growing concern and, while there is plenty of fun to be had as Norton assumes the role of his Belgian servant, he helps to steer the plot ever forward while Norton’s antics prove to be anything but helpful. At the same time, Ebony Jonelle gives a measured performance as Catherine that highlights the disgust resulting from Catherine’s current situation as well a shrewd intelligence and sense of worth, qualities that become all the more important as the truth behind this time bubble becomes known with Norton himself being surprisingly outmanoeuvred. There sadly isn’t much time for Catherine to feature due to the script’s unneeded and extensive focus on the much less consequential elements that obviously do feed into the conditions of the will being unable to be met, but Catherine by the story’s end becomes by far the most intriguing element of the plot and absolutely does deserve further exploration. ‘The Restoration of Catherine’ just about works as written, but there was a much more dynamic and engaging story to be told with Catherine squarely at the fore with Reginald and Edmund nothing more than minor annoyances as she looked for a way around her current plight no matter the potential consequences here and afar.

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