Last year, we did a series examining the career of the Amazing Jago and Litefoot radio series starring Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter up through Series 11. I planned to write a follow up in October with the release of Series 14. However, Mr. Baxter passed away on July 16th at the age of 84. All recorded Jago and Litefoot episodes have already been released.
This article will look at the final releases featuring these two great characters.
Series 12 was released in October of last year and saw a return to the typical series quality after a shaky Series 11. This series has a tight story arch that ties each story together in a way we haven’t seen and it all focuses on Ellie and ties back into Series 1 where Jago killed Ellie’s brother after he’d been transformed into a monster and Series 2 where Ellie had been turned into a vampire prior to Professor Litefoot curing her.
In the first story, “Picture This,” Ellie’s vampire tendencies are back and she breaks into the mysterious Scarlet gallery to steal a painting. Jago & Litefoot are called in to investigate and they find themselves deep in the mystery of the gallery which is filled with mystical pictures. This is a solid start that both sets up the plot for the series while also having a spooky standalone story with an above average role for Sergeant Quick.
In “Flickermen,” Jago and Litefoot investigate a series of disappearances and get their first look at the emerging world of motion pictures. This is another solid outing, with some creepy moments but also a good share of humor. Unlike many other recent box sets, this story continues to explore the over-arching plot of Ellie’s vampirism. There’s also a good bit of humor and an interesting conclusion that makes the story work.
In, “The School of Blood,” Professor Litefoot goes undercover at a girl’s school based on a hint and discovers a large number of mysterious deaths have occurred. There are clear hints of ongoing vampire activity as the girls all seem to be hiding mysterious wounds. The story manages to mix in humor with a very sinister feel to the school, and features an action-packed climax which sets the stage for the final act.
The series concludes with, “Warm Blood.” It’s the final showdown as Jago and Litefoot suspect the truth about Ellie while she plans to lead them towards their doom. The story starts off slow and has some questionable moments in it but really picks up in the final third as Jago and Litefoot find themselves in the most perilous part of their career and they have to confront Ellie. Jago is haunted with and forced to confront what he did back in Series One and asked to make the same choice again. It’s a very solid conclusion with a non-cliffhanger ending which fits the more tighter connection between the stories we’ve seen in Series 12. Overall, satisfying, though there were a few plot holes.
2017 marked the 40th Anniversary of Jago and Litefoot’s appearance in the Talons of Weng-Chiang on television and would be marked by some additional appearances outside their own series.
This began in January with their appearance in the Fourth Doctor Adventures in, “The Beast of Kravenos.”
The Beast of Kravenos brings Jago and Litefoot back to the Fourth Doctor Adventures, this time along Lalla Ward’s second incarnation of Romana and the result is…pleasantly okay.
Compared to the infernal investigators first appearance in the Fourth Doctor Adventures, Justice of Jalxar, this story of Jago, Litefoot, the Doctor, and Quick all hunting for the perpetrator behind a series of burglars, is unremarkable. The best thing to say for this story is it doesn’t get in the way of the characters, who are at all likable and fun to listen to. This isn’t unlike a classic First Doctor Television story where the story is weak but the characters are fun to be around. So overall, the characters make this worth listening to. It’s too bad the writer couldn’t have come up with something better for them to do.
Jago and Litefoot made an appearance in the Doctor Who Short Trips range in March and April of this year. The Short Trip range typically involve an actor or actress who played a Doctor Who companion reading a short, self-contained audiobook featuring the Doctor they starred opposite of.
The Jago and Litefoot Revival Act was entirely different from anything else done in the range. The story was in two parts (Part One and Part Two), both Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter read framing scenes together with Lisa Bowerman appearing as Ellie at the end of the second part, and the story features two Doctor actors they never appeared with on TV.
Litefoot is joined by Jago in telling a story before the meeting of a scientific society in which the two were separated by hundreds of miles, with Litefoot travelling to Minos as both were in the dulldrums after months of nothing unusual happening. The story features a Jago and Litefoot adventure that involves the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, Writer Jonathan Barnes has a good sense of both Jago and Litefoot and the new series Doctors.
The story has a solid plot, but the real fun is exploring the nature of a friendship between our two protagonists and the Doctor that’s lasted so long. Trevor Baxter did a good job in the scenes with Litefoot and the Tenth Doctor who was nearing the end of his life in this story. Overall, this is a bit of an aberration, but an enjoyable 40th Anniversary story nonetheless.
In April, the 13th Series of Jago of Litefoot was released.
The series kicks off with “The Stuff of Nightmares,” Jago, Litefoot, and Ellie are all having frighteningly realistic terrifying dreams while a Time Agent stalks London in search of the fate of Magnus Kreel.
The story has some moments reminiscent of other Jago and Litefoot tales. Bizarre dreams have been visited before, back in Series 6. But this is a different sort of dream and here the attempts at psychoanalysis of dreams is played for laughs even though there’s a measure of truth in it. This series does begin by hearkening back to the original Talons story, which was done in Series 5 but not nearly as effectively as in this episode.
The dreams contribute to a sense of mystery that kept me guessing and the solution to the mystery is surprising while still managing to be believably understandable for a clever Victorian gentleman to wrap his mind around.
In the Chapel of Night, Jago and Litefoot think they’ve returned home from their last adventure only to discover, while it may look like home, it’s not their London at all. Ellie doesn’t know them, having never seen the Professor before. Quick has a distant professional relationship with Litefoot but doesn’t know Jago at all.
Once you get past, the parallel reality part of the story, it becomes a well-done boiler plate episode of Jago and Litefoot with the Chapel of Night taking people who are about to commit suicide off the street and using them for their own purposes. It’s a solid story with some suspenseful moments, but just a typical tale for the infernal investigators.
The third story, “How the Other Half Lives” is a wonderful tale that finds Jago and Litefoot down on their luck as they have no place in a London where their counterparts are alive. Yet, Jago and Litefoot find their alternate Earth counterparts may need them. Alternate Jago is down on his luck and married, but he has a desperate plan and he thinks Litefoot can help when he meets him but what plan does he have that involves a gun and could be helped by a pathologist?
Then there’s Alternate Litefoot who finds himself mysteriously bed-ridden and kept company by his Chinese curios. Alternate Litefoot is about to be victimized by his at-home nurse and her rat catcher boyfriend who plan to loot her home.
Overall, there’s a lot of humor, great chemistry, and a nice bit of dynamic between the Jagos and Litefoots. The differences between them are slight and more experiential than anything else. It’s quite a bit smarter than past attempts at alternate Jago & Litefoots. The story also continues to be another great hearkening back to Talons of Weng-Chiang in both main plot threads.
The final story is “Too Much Reality.” It’s a good conclusion to the box set that finds Jago and Litefoot teaming up with the alternate universe Jago and Litefoot, as well as a team of infernal investigators who emerged instead of them, Luke Betterman and Aubrey. David Warner’s Betterman is believable and has just a bit more authority than the main universe Betterman and his performance is a real highlight of this episode. The story moves on well and avoids spending too much time on the villain.
The story is not without flaws. Having both Jagos and both Litefoots in this story is problematic because they share too many scenes and there’s no vocal differentiation. The story seems to be aiming for the idea that if Jago and Litefoot meet in any universe, they’ll be drawn together into adventure. That’s an okay idea, but not when it creates this much crowding in the story. Personally, I’d have preferred to really have a strong contrast between Jago and Litefoot and Betterman and Aubrey. The actual contribution to the plot by the alternates doesn’t amount to much.
Regardless, the story was a fun listen. It’s unfortunate it does end on a cliffhanger to set up a series 14 that won’t happen. But the listener is free to imagine Jago and Litefoot went on to have many more adventures not chronicled on audio. That’s what I’ll do.
Overall, this is a nice set that succeeds at its goals. In Series 5, they tried to offer a follow up to Talons and it didn’t work. Here, I think they got it just right, celebrating the story with a great homage that still manages to tell a fun and fairly original story. It’s probably their strongest release since Series 10 and overall is a fine representative of one of the best audio dramas ever made.
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