Fifty years ago, a literal voyage to the bottom of the sea failed to return. Today an underwater cry for help has been heard around the world emanating from the area. With approval from UNIT, Torchwood head down in a submarine to investigate. They find a zombie.
I very rarely criticise anyone's acting in my reviews, but I'm afraid it's the one thing that really stood out about this radio episode.
Right from the word go, the script has trouble communicating all the visual information through the characters' dialogue, a fact exacerbated by the cast's varying success at making it fly, or rather dive. One of them plays off of the others so little that I'd easily believe they were in another room, or recorded on a different day. It's all a bit of a thud after how naturally the preceding Devil And Miss Carew flowed.
This and the less-than-spectacular production make the unfolding mystery as murky as the undersea location in which it is set.
I did like the central concept of a being taking memories in order to dampen a particularly devastating one, and the simple location of the tale was one which got the cast to become explorers for a change. Being so Earthbound, they don't get that opportunity very often.
Also computer-whizz Ianto gets a moment which is perhaps his finest hour…
Jack: "Battle stations people, I wanna to know how big this is."
Ianto: [AT COMPUTER] "Okay, searching 'cry', 'scream', 'siren in the water'… Wow!"
Ianto: "I am getting hits on every social networking site around the world. Facebook, Twitter, Mixi, Qzone… Most reports are time-stamped. If you were in the water from 23:42 to 23:46 GMT, then you heard the cry."
Gwen: "So anywhere in the world, if your head was underwater…"
Ianto: "… then you heard it."
Ianto: "Reports from every continent."
Gwen: "Well look at that! 'Several People Drown in Thailand due to an Intoxicating Sound' - look."
Jack: "See - it's an alien attack! Does anyone have a recording of it? We need to analyse it."
Ianto: "Hold on, I'm hacking the Pacific tsunami warning centre in Indonesia… I am IN! Downloading… and…here it is. [PLAYS INDECIPHERABLE SOUND] That is creepy. It's not coming up as any known alien language."
Gwen: "Well can we trace this back to its source? If we use the network of microphones…"
Ianto: "… echo-locate the transmission! - yep! I'm running an algorithm…speed of sound: 343.2 metres per second."
Gwen: "That's in air though."
Ianto: "Right, it's approximately five times faster in water, baseline… bear with me… that's 1,560 metres per second, but, accounting for salinity, temperature, all factors of depth, using the slight time variations between the hundreds of microphones spread throughout the oceans… and wait for it… there!"
Gwen: "There…? What are you pointing at - Papua New Guinea?"
Ianto: "No - the bit of ocean south of Tokyo and east of Manila!"
Jack: "That's not any bit of ocean. That's the Marianna Trench."
Gwen: "As in the bottom of the sea?"
Jack: "Oh yeah."
Jack: "You don't have to be a 51st century time-travelling immortal to know this is alien."
Ianto: "Ye - maybe the alien isn't used to talking in this atmosphere. If I slow the whole thing down… put it through a Bizenfield filter… listen?"
Voice on recording: "Help… us…"
No wonder the Doctor has never made a guest-appearance in Torchwood. Even his technical wizardry would be completely out-classed.