AUDIO REVIEW: Jago & Litefoot – Series Seven (Big Finish)

Clipboard02I do look forward to the release of a Jago and Litefoot series. If you’ve not encountered them before, I’ll speed you up to date: Big Finish’s marvellous spin-off of the Doctor Who episode The Talons of Weng-Chiang, featuring theatre impresario Henry Gordon Jago and coroner Professor George Litefoot, as they investigate mysterious and supernatural goings-on around Victorian London. Series Six ended with them wrongfully framed for an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, and on the run from justice. The Monstrous Menagerie by Jonathan Morris is exactly as fun as Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was meant to be. Jago and Litefoot, directed by the mysterious hand of the Doctor, are sent to 221b Baker Street where they encounter Arthur Conan Doyle and his client, a woman in danger. The riffs on Sherlock Holmes – and Doyle’s irritation at being constantly asked to bring the Great Detective back from his literary grace – are highly entertaining, and the whole story suddenly takes a running leap into absurd brilliance when a stegosaurus wanders through Whitechapel. Jago and Litefoot at its best – melodramatic, quirky and tongue-in-cheek, and a highlight of the series. The Night of 1000 Stars by James Goss seems to have drawn some ire from fans. Set over a long dark night of the soul, Jago, Litefoot, Ellie Higson and Leela (Louise Jamieson returning) are trapped inside 221b Baker Street whilst an alien going by the heavy-handed name of Remorse stalks outside. Each of them dredges up the dark memories of their past, but all is not as it seems. If Monstrous Menagerie rang faintly of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, this one is The God Complex, only not as clever and with more plot-holes if you put some thought into it. That being said, it’s a novel and rather innovative structural approach for Jago and Litefoot, and its nice to see some experimentation and – despite the thin concept its wrapped in – the character shading and interactions are strong. Plus, Louise Jamieson is always great to have back. Solid, and not deserving of the poor reviews its received. Murder at Moorsey Manor by Simon Bernard and Paul Morris comes courtesy of the brilliant creators of The Scarifyers, and you can tell. Jago and Litefoot are investigating at a manor house during a meeting of Sherlock Holmes aficionados… only someone has murderous intent. Coming on like Agatha Christie writing Saw, and as stuffed full of knowing winks as Monstrous Menagerie. It’s a romp, and a good one at that, and genuinely does keep you guessing as to who the culprit might be. Bring these guys back to write more, please. The Wax Princess by Justin Richards is the finale. Poor Justin Richards – he always ends up writing the finales, which always have to pull together disparate threads into something satisfying. Except this time! This series doesn’t seem to have gone in for a through lot much – apart from Jago and Litefoot being incognito, which doesn’t seem to have caused them altogether too much trouble – which means Richards gets to do a standalone tale troubled only be exonerating the pair by the end. Joining them this time is Inspector Abberline, on the hunt for an escaped Jack the Ripper, who appears to have a new occupation turning his cadavers into waxwork fiends. The mystery isn’t precise confounding, but it doesn’t really matter much, it’s another enjoyable Jago and Litefoot romp with a vivid grisly creation – the waxwork princess herself – at its centre. Probably the slickest finale to date. Jago and Litefoot has always been at its best when it’s a melodramatic romp around fog-shrouded streets, penny dreadful monsters and rowdy taverns, so Series Seven has it back on firm ground. I’m glad Series Eight is due out soon – I’m given to understand that they’re packing them in, in case the health of either of their leads ever curtails their production. I sincerely hope it never does – long live Baxter and Benjamin, and long live Jago and Litefoot.

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