Torchwood has the distinction, in this world of modern television, of having an instantly recognisible theme tune. Beat that Heroes! Top that Lost! Not only that, it’s only two flippin’ notes – da-du da-du da-du (that’s about as close as I can get to it using ‘words’). Murray Gold inherits Johnny Williams simplicity from the Jaws theme (also just two notes) and transfers into the genre of TV sci-fi: an inspired move from the Doctor Who composer.
Ruefully, you have to sit through a mediocre collection of minor key laments, sub-Muse rock stylings, more laments and Doctor Who offcuts before you get to the now classic melody – placed (rather irritatingly) at the end of this album.
Unlike its bigger brother (yet supposedly for younger viewers), Torchwood doesn’t have the successful emotional range that Doctor Who has (even The Sarah Jane Adventures succeeds in that department) and, as a result, the music – a key ingredient to evoking any kind of feeling – is trudgingly downbeat in tone and monotonous in mood.
The majority of the tracks, compiled from both series of the show, are indistinguishable from one another and rarely summon any meaningful reaction, let alone a connection to the series itself. Part of the joy of any soundtrack is the evocation of its source – the film or television programme. But here, for the most part, I felt none of that. The ‘tunes’ (and I use that phrase lightly) sound like they’ve either been culled from any trailer that accompanies any Hollywood action movie or were selections ditched from the Series 3 finale of Doctor Who.
It’s not all bad though! Undeservedly (as his character was such a non-entity), Gray gets an excellent theme, as does (appropriately so in this case) Owen. But, infuriatingly, these themes are repeated elsewhere on the release. Once was quite enough, thank you. Out Of Time (the only tune not in a minor key), Pearl And The Ghostmaker (which features some fascinating instrumentation and is vastly different to everything that surrounds it) and Flat Holm Island provide some depth and relief from the continuous dirges, not to mention melody.
In the context of the show, the music serves its purpose and does so admirably, but as a listening experience it’s a non-starter. Its doubtful you will want to hit the replay button when your first play is over. You may want to dip in to listen to a couple of tracks again but otherwise the Torchwood soundtrack does not entertain, reminding us why there are no CDs of New Tricks, Primeval or Spooks. Just because it’s connected with Doctor Who does not mean it has be released.