01/02/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
Jago and Litefoot - Boxed Set by Andy Lane. pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs. Price: GBP 35.00 (UK). Download: GBP 30.00. ISBN: 978-1-84435-494-8). voices: Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
Those thoughtful people at Big Finish are constantly revising and devising new methods of drawing in new listeners to its now extensive pocket universe. Characters that appear fleetingly, concepts addressed and galaxies previously visited are all fair game to the knowledgeable chaps.
The boxed set of the adventures of Jago and Litefoot is the new focus of this scheming as the two grizzled adventures return in a set of four adventures, each an hour long. The gruesome and downright fiendish series of adventures follow on from their appearance in a ‘Companion Chronicle’. Whilst not strictly true companions of the Fourth Doctor, their presence in ‘The Talons Of Wang Cheng’ certainly enlivened and enriched the proceedings. ‘The Mahogany Murders’ was well received and this set envisioned. Its lively theme music which conjures up the smut and smog of Victorian London sets the tone for some most excellent adventures.
Those veteran performers Christopher (Jago) Benjamin and Trevor (Litefoot) Baxter take a reluctant part in the solving of mysteries. Jago is not quite on his uppers but his impresario skills are not so valued. Always eager to share a meal and a drink with Professor Litefoot, he is keen to follow a mystery but not so keen to pick up the tab. Litefoot is more circumspect but obviously enjoys and respects the ebullient Jago. There is much wordplay from Jago and his music hall origins shine through in his powerful alliterating.
‘The Bloodless Soldier’ by Justin Richards (author of several ‘Doctor Who’ novels and Gallifrey audios for Big Finish) sees the return of the soldier but this one needs to be tied up by his mates. They try to protect him but soon Litefoot is considering the results of this on his mortuary slab. He needs to be stopped. Meanwhile, Jago is keen to meet a potential new headliner act for his theatre.
‘The Bellova Devil’ by Big Finish’s own Alan Barnes finds the pair investigating the walking dead and the strange and exclusive Far Off Travellers Club.
‘The Spirit Trap’ by Jonathon Morris has Henry Gordon Jago trying to unmask a fake spiritualist trying to take advantage of a bereaved young woman. But there is more to the medium than meets the eye and Professor Litefoot will have to ride to the rescue.
‘The Similarity Engine’ by Andy Lane rounds off the previous adventures as the investigating duo are caught up in the scheming of Dr. Tulp and a hospital that won’t make the patients better.
Each story leads gently into the next. The threads of connection are lightly drawn and then reeled in. The humour is evident in the script with Jago getting the bulk of the laughs. With only sound not vision, the atmosphere is neatly conjured up by the careful incidental music which is a constant but not overbearing companion. Each of the adventures follows a supernatural vein and has a twist at the end of the fourth. It is not ‘Doctor Who’ but the pair of amiable friends are more than worthy to take on the investigations. I cannot help draw some parallels with Sherlock Holmes but this is more gothic horror and it does a fine job. The two leads are full of fruity goodness. Jago the down on his luck impresario is the Falstaff to his upper-crust partner. The superior Litefoot is a criminal pathologist for the Crown. It is under his leadership that the pair make progress but Jago is a brave coward. For Litefoot, it is the science that pushes his interest. They both do their best to make sense of the mysterious manifestation of the not so silent witnesses whose appearance on his mortuary slab lead the pair into some dark paths.
Jago is never without a quip and has a large repertoire of assonance to boot. Litefoot, the man of science, tries to rationalise everything but his experience leads him to not write off the unseen.
Supporting characters are occasionally rather black and white. They are simply there to move along the action and there is no time to do much with them. Voice reliant we need to get to it straightway without too much character build up.
The CD of extras is mainly interviews both with the actors and the rest of the production team. It offers the usual insights into what can be a complex process of pulling a production together.
As there is horror, humour and occasional drunkenness which is all good, this is another excellent addition to the catalogue of Big Finish. There will be another boxed set to follow.
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