Torchwood One: I Hate Mondays

Posted in Audio by - May 15, 2024
Torchwood One: I Hate Mondays

Released May 2024


Even when tasked with protecting the nation and just possibly the world, Torchwood is anything but immune from the special dread and challenges that Mondays can present. Torchwood One compiles three of those particular days that are memorable for of the wrong reasons in the aptly-titled I Hate Mondays.

In James Goss’s opener, ‘Dinner for Yvonne,’ a cloud of psychic plasma is quickly heading towards London, but Yvonne is determined to make the most of her night off to finally take a turn hosting her friends for a dinner party. Unfortunately, these neighbours whom she is determined to spend time with as a semblance of having a social life are unquestionably some of the worst people she could have chosen. Narcissistic, boastful, arrogant, and condescending, none of them have any meaningful redeeming factors, meaning that this dinner party is an agonizingly prolonged experience filled with constant putdowns and zero charm or fun. Ian Abeysekera, Anniwaa Buachie, Lesley Ewen, and Ed White all successfully embellish the material to truly make the horrific personalities shine, but by doing so they weaken Yvonne as a character no matter how much she is determined to have friends outside of work and to do normal things. Worse still, she knows all of the terrible secrets her friends have been trying to hide from each other and the world at large, a fact that makes her resolve to be a successful host even if the world might suffer as she all but turns a blind eye to events all the more baffling. Yvonne has always been presented as an ambitious and driven woman who is wholly committed to her work, meaning that her constant complaints about not being able to have even one night off as the people she has delegated to take charge fall one by one simply ring hollow. There’s obviously something to be said about Yvonne wanting something more than Torchwood and the fact that she has made it her job this evening to have fun and show her neighbours that she can manage, but the story as a whole does nothing to advance Yvonne or Torchwood in any worthwhile direction. While it’s no surprise that Yvonne is able to save the day when pressed into action while using her friends and then relying on them to never speak of anything they have seen due to embarrassment, the only true highlights of this dinner come instead from Ianto and Tommy once they come to take part in the hosting duties after coming to find Yvonne, the former as he puts on a good presentation for the guests while wrestling with family drama over the phone and the latter as he proves to be a surprisingly adept and innovative cook and a wealth of wine knowledge. The trio of Tracy-Ann Oberman, Gareth David-Lloyd, and Timothy Bentinck continue to shine together and again highlight why Torchwood One is such a success, but ‘Dinner for Yvonne’ is a rare but significant miss for this series due to its uninspiring supporting characters, background threat, and insistence on making Yvonne into someone she has never been.

James Goss also pens the second instalment of this set, ‘By Royal Appointment,’ as the Crown’s new royal liaison to Torchwood decides to see just what this well-funded but furtive organization truly is. To her credit, Poppy Greenleaf is an extremely competent and compassionate individual who in most other circumstances would more than capably rival Yvonne in terms of leadership abilities. Unfortunately, her good intentions are not enough to prepare her for the dangerous and expansive world Yvonne reveals to her through a whirlwind of events spanning international espionage, precursor organizations to Torchwood, and even intergalactic diplomacy. Unlike the previous story that had Yvonne step dramatically out of character, ‘By Royal Appointment’ shows Yvonne at her most calculating, decisive, and even ruthless. She again possesses and immense knowledge of events occurring on all levels throughout the world and has an implicit ability to manoeuvre others to exactly where she wants in order to obtain further knowledge and very specific results, actions that Poppy understandably finds terrifying. Nonetheless, the events as presented are so wholly haphazardly disparate and meandering that only some hidden ulterior motive to tie them together could bolster these events with a greater meaning, and thankfully Goss does manage to successfully present that motive just as Poppy’s fears of Yvonne’s actions and of Torchwood under her continued leadership reach their peaks. The ultimate hellish threat the world finds itself facing isn’t necessarily realized terribly successfully as Yvonne’s trap is sprung far away from the narrative focus, but Yvonne’s incredible foresight and supreme confidence in herself have rarely been featured so dramatically and successfully as Oberman gives one of her finest performances to date. Indeed, even just asking the question of whether Poppy showing up on this particular day was coincidence or down to Yvonne’s machinations highlights the true cunning of this character, and her ability to kindly remove Poppy from her own continued path forward with Torchwood is a reminder of just how much sway Yvonne has in all aspects of life, government, and beyond. This is very much a character showcase for Yvonne, but Isabella Pappas as Poppy is a perfect conduit through which to explore Yvonne from an outsider’s perspective, and her emotions and reactions are all palpable and genuine throughout. And although the rest of Torchwood One is pretty much a background presence, Bentinck again steals every scene he is in with Tommy’s wry wit and sardonic remarks. Likewise, David-Lloyd excels in his few scenes as Ianto continues to deal with the aftermath of his familial affairs, in the process allowing Yvonne to show an attempted softer side to her people person techniques. ‘By Royal Appointment’ is a story with an ambition that rivals Yvonne’s own, and though it does require its conclusion to retroactively make the many disparate vignettes all that more profound and resonant, it’s an enjoyable adventure exploring the breathtakingly expansive nature of Torchwood’s remit.

Ianto and Tommy are tasked with transporting a canister of deadly Euphorian nerve gas to a safe bunker in South Downs in Joseph Lidster’s ‘Nerves,’ and what initially seems like a lighthearted romp that will take advantage of the distinct differences between the very detail-oriented Ianto who has planned this trip down to the minute to return to Torchwood One in time for lunch and training and the much less structured Tommy who just cares about getting the job done takes a far more serious and introspective turn. There’s no doubting that this pairing is one of the strongest in all of Torchwood that only gets stronger with each release featuring them together; Tommy is brash and opinionated, but just as he’s unafraid to comment on what he perceives to be Ianto’s sexuality without passing judgment, he also genuinely cares about Ianto and wants to ensure that he is holding up following the recent passing of his father. These two likely did not realize until their brush with death here just how much they mean to each other, and though Ianto’s pointed discussions about Tommy’s alcoholism are likewise superficially meant to show an outward caring for his friend’s life and future, the connection stemming from his father’s alcoholism that drove everyone away becomes a profoundly resonant theme that brings the two all that much closer as Tommy is able to help Ianto finally understand some of his father’s decisions and cries for help while also realizing that he himself must change. Both the death of Ianto’s father and Tommy’s alcoholism had been seeded throughout each of this set’s stories, and their emergence and union here provide a wealth of emotionally charged material that both David-Lloyd and Bentinck deliver pitch perfectly. Of course, the emotions along the way threaten the completion of their important journey, and against increasing odds to protect the general populace from the gas’s deadly effects as it begins to escape containment, they refuse to ever give up. Joined along the way by Lu Corfield’s Pam who tries her best to look at the positive side of affairs and by James G Nunn’s Harvey who is so precariously close to giving up on life while wrestling with his own relationship with his son, Torchwood One’s finest find themselves tested on every level with every decision potentially tipping the balance between life and death. ‘Nerves’ is in every way the opposite of how Torchwood typically handles finales, and despite a brief lull in pacing in the middle, the immensely introspective approach taken to explore these two men at such acutely vulnerable times in their lives proves to be a masterful decision that culminates a profoundly demonstrative and impactful tale.

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