In Review: Big Finish: Torchwood: Corpse Day

Normally, I’m a huge fan of stories driven by irony. In this case, however, the power of irony is diluted by a significant internal logic flaw.

Synopsis: Glynn Lewis is just putting up a spice rack when there’s a knock at the door. A knock that will bring a brutal end to his perfect family.

PC Andy is very excited. It’s Corpse Day – the day when the local constabulary get help on dead cases from Torchwood. This year, he’s volunteered to act as liaison, and he knows he’s going to have a brilliant time.

For Dr Owen Harper, today’s just like any other. There’ll be bloodshed, screaming and murder. At the end of it all, he doesn’t care. After all, life’s just for the living, and he’s long dead.

Torchwood contains adult material and may not be suitable for younger listeners

Review: I’ll discuss the negative points in Torchwood: Corpse Day first, so I can end the review on a high note. I got the impression that James Goss wrote this story simply because he liked the ironic humor inherent in Owen’s situation. This impression was strengthened by Owen’s meta line that Jack assigned him, because he thought it was funny. Normally, I’m a huge fan of stories driven by irony. In this case, however, the power of irony is diluted by a significant internal logic flaw.

I’ll allow that Torchwood has always been a not-so-secret secret organization. That said, I can only suspend disbelief so much. There’s no way Queen Victoria would’ve allowed the Corpse Day tradition to be established at all, let alone that Jack would head the one branch of Torchwood to continue it. By acknowledging that the other branches don’t do it any more, Goss is highlighting how problematic the premise of interagency cooperation is in this context.

I’ve discussed the objective flaw in the story. Now, I’ll talk about the subjective issue. “Countrycide” was one of my least favorite episodes of televised Torchwood, and “Corpse Day” was a revisitation of that narrative ground on several levels. I can watch the news and documentaries for stories of real cults and real kidnappings. I’ve often found allegorical exercises along those lines to be pointless. They either fall short of the actual horror, or they sensationalize the violence and degradation. Either way, I don’t have the energy.

Now, I’ll move on to the good stuff. Burn Gorman and Tom Price were pure gold. I’m genuinely glad that Big Finish crafted stories for Andy Davidson to get stuck in. He is the character Gwen Cooper can no longer be, as she’s too far down the road. Gorman was perfectly pitched in his return as Owen Harper. As much as I may fuss over the story’s structural faults, Gorman was able to mine the tale’s strengths — its themes. Goss and Gorman wonderfully articulated viewpoints I wouldn’t necessarily have considered.

  • You can purchase Torchwood: Corpse Day here.

Written By: James Goss

Directed By: Scott Handcock


Burn Gorman (Owen Harper), Tom Price (Andy Davidson), Hannah Maddox (Angela), Alex Tregear (Jan), Nigel Betts (Glynn), Oliver Mason (Sonny), Rhian Blundell (Marta), Aly Cruickshank (Desk Sergeant), Charlotte O’Leary (Waitress)


Producer James Goss

Script Editor Steve Tribe

Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs

Big Finish: Torchwood: Corpse Day
  • Performances, Story Themes
  • Couldn't by the premise. Internal logic flaw
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production
  • Art Work

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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