Tag: good review

A Look at Jago and Litefoot, Part Five (Series 12-13, Final)

See Parts OneTwo, and Three, and Part Four

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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Graphic Novel Review: The Saint: The Man Who Wouldn’t Die

This book is a graphic novel based on a short story from the early days of Leslie Charteris’ writing the Saint. This story is from 1931 and finds the Saint on the trail of an adrenaline junkie named Miles Hallin who has a series of near misses with death that leave him richer and someone else dead. The Saint suspects foul play and when one of his friends is killed in one of Hallin’s incidents the Saint vows to ensure the man who wouldn’t die does.even if it comes at the hands of the Saint.

This is a fairly good story for Moonstone to use. Even though, it was written in 1931 before noir really became a thing, it does look nice as a black and white noir comic and it has a great deal of atmosphere. The graphic novel is around 50 pages long and can easily be read in a single reading. Most of the plot works quite well. I did have a couple quibbles with the art. First of all, there’s one scene in the book where the Saint and Hallin fight and it’s really unclear what’s supposed to be happening. In addition, the cover with bony skeleton hands covering a woman’s eyes has nothing to do with the plot but Moonstone chose it because (I’m guessing here) it fits with some of their more supernatural styles.

Still, this is an enjoyable comic adaptation of a Saint adventure and a fun way to experience a 1930s mystery story.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Graphic Novel Review: Mask of the Red Panda

The Mask of the Red Panda is based on the audio drama podcast written by Gregg Taylor. In this three-issue comic story, the Red Panda and Kit Baxter (aka the Flying Squirrel) investigate a series of strange murders that lead them into a battle with forces of supernatural evil and Nazis. The story’s set in the pulp fiction era, so of course Nazis.

The book captures the flow and spirit of the podcast adventures well bringing our heroes on to the comic page and into the visual media. It moves at a nice pace with plenty of action. I also like the way they deal with magic, but fight with a magic inhibitor device which stops the story from getting too spooky, weird, and out of its typical depth. It’s certainly a better take than many modern superhero stories which become some entirely different series when magical beings come a calling. The art is good and the coloring (while far from natural) isn’t unpleasant.

On the other hand, you might expect something more epic for the trade paperback from a long-running series. This is a decent three-issues story rather than something epic and grand that will make readers demand more Red Panda comics. In addition, some elements don’t quite transfer over from audio to the written page.

In the Red Panda, Kit is not only the Red Panda’s sidekick but his employee as his chauffeur, so she responds to many of his statements with, “Yes, Boss.” In the radio program, Andrea Lyons, the actress who plays her, communicates a lot of what Kit thinks through voice tone as she says it. So “Yes, Boss” can be an acknowledgment or agreement or it can be annoyance, humoring the Red Panda, or something else. You don’t get that sense of expression in the comic and so you have to guess and, without voice tone, “Yes, boss” can be a bit repetitive. In addition, while I appreciate her fighting spirit, there was one panel where I think she went a little too far.

Still, overall this is a decent and nicely written homage to the pulp era that brings a beloved audio drama character to life. If you like pulp heroes like the Shadow or Green Hornet, but would like something a tad less intense than those heroes’ current comic book offerings, this is a worthwhile read even if you haven’t listened to the podcast. If you’re a fan of the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel, this is a great opportunity to see them in a visual medium.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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Audiobook Review: Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark


Doors in the Dark gives is the first of several audiobooks that provide material that first appeared in Black Mask Magazine, perhaps the best known of the crime magazine pulps.

The collection begins with Keith Alen Deutsch’s history of Black Mask. It’s a great listen for fans of classic crime fiction, though skippable if you just want the story.

“Come and Get It,” is written by Erle Stanley Gardener, who’d become a mystery legend for writing Perry Mason. This story features Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook. This story is a self-contained short novel but in a series of novels involving the Phantom Crook’s battle with a crime syndicate who is trying to hurt a girl that Jenkins likes. Jenkins has some of the cleverness and cunning that would later be seen in characters like Leslie Charteris’ the Saint. However, he’s also a bit of a throwback to the “Crook with a Heart of Gold” character that was popular in the 1920s, and his sharp self-definition of himself as a “crook” is a dominant. Overall, this story is decent.

“Arson Plus” was originally published by Dashiell Hammett under the pseudonym of Peter Collinson. It’s the first story featuring Hammett’s Continental Op. It’s a quick moving arson case with a very clever solution.

“The Fall Guy” was written by George Harrison Coxe and features Flash Casey, the great crime photographer. Having listened to many episodes of the radio show, “Casey, Crime Photographer,” I found this to be a bit of a treat. The story itself is competent, but not “flashy” with typical noir characters.

“Doors in the Dark,” by Frederick Nebel features Captain Steve McBride investigating the apparent suicide of a friend, but he believes it’s murder. This story is from the series on which the Torchy Blane film series was based, though the series doesn’t feature Torchy with McBride being the hero. Still, there are some madcap/screwball moments in this story that set the tone for the Torchy Blane series.

“Lucky” by Doc Savage creator Lester Dent is one of the few stories featuring his crime solving Ship’s Captain/Insurance Oscar Sail. This story is fast paced and with a bit more violence than any other tale in the collection. Still, quite enjoyable with some clever twists.

Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook, but it’s one of those releases that fall under, “You will like if you like that sort of thing.” One negative review criticized the stories for having the same quality as old time radio. As someone who loves old time radio mysteries, I consider that a positive. The pulp genre is not high literature but much of it is still entertaining in its own way.

Ultimately, this audiobook offers talented narration of a good history of pulp fiction along with five classic pulp stories including a Flash Casey story and tales by the creators of Doc Savage, Perry Mason, and Sam Spade. If that sounds up your alley, then this is definitely an audiobook to pick up.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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Audio Drama Review: The Wisdom of Father Brown, Volume 2

Colonial Radio Theatre continues to bring the works of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown to the air in this second collection of four mysteries based on G.K. Chesterton’s Wisdom of Father Brown.

•The Duel of Dr. Hirsch-The reclusive French statesman Dr. Hirsch is accused of treason and Father Brown and Flambeau get caught in the midst of swirling political intrigue. This is a classic Father Brown story with a clever solution most listeners wouldn’t see coming. Colonial does a superb job on the adaptation and allows Chesterton’s misdirection to work its magic.

•The Man in the Passage-A great actress is murdered. Several men could have done it, but the case hinges on conflicting testimony as to what the suspects and Father Brown saw in the passage. This is probably one of Chesterton’s lesser mysteries and that it would be a mystery to the police that would end in a climatic court scene requires a greater suspension of disbelief than any other story in the Father Brown canon. The entire mystery is a joke and Father Brown’s conclusion is the punch line. The characters are played quite broadly and a bit over the top because of this, but Colonial is simply playing the story as it’s written. They do good job adapting a story that doesn’t easily lend itself to adaptation.

•The Purple Wig- A freelance journalist investigates a cursed aristocratic family and how that curse has apparently affected the latest Duke of Exmoor. This one has a great satirical element as it focuses on the efforts of a newspaper to shape public opinion by reporting facts that conform to the papers and the reader’s biases. The mystery isn’t bad and it’s wrapped in a clever bit of satire that feels as relevant today as it was when Chesterton wrote it more than a century ago.

•The God of the Gongs: Father Brown takes a winter holiday with Flambeau and they find themselves at a summer resort where Father Brown discovers a body and a dark mystery. This is the most straightforward and suspenseful tale on the CD and builds very nicely to its climax.

In taking on The Wisdom of Father Brown, Colonial has set out to adapt some of Chesterton’s most challenging stories for readers. Like Volume 1, Volume 2 to succeeds in making these stories entertaining and engaging for a modern audience while still being true to the source material with solid production values and good production values. Overall, another great Father Brown collection from Colonial Radio Theatre.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.0

Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this production in exchange for an honest review.

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