A Look at Jago & Litefoot, Part Two (Series 3-Series 5)

After having discussed Series 1-2 of Jago and Litefoot last week, we continue with Series 3-5.

Series Three saw Jago and Litefoot reunited with Leela (Louise Jameson) from “Talons of Weng-Chiang” of Doctor Who as she returns to19th Century London at the request of the Time Lords.

The series shifted to a more Science Fiction and Fantasy feel after the horror of Series Two.

The first story, “Dead Man’s Tales,” established Leela as part of the cast as she’s investigating cracks in time where the future is bleeding through to the past. The story has some faults, particularly that the solution to the main plot doesn’t involve any of the heroes. Still, the story is a lot of fun and has more comedy than most any other Jago and Litefoot story. After the dark beginnings to the first two series, this showed how the tone of Series 3 would be different.

The next story, “Man at the End of the Garden,” is Matthew Sweet’s debut writing for Jago & Litefoot and it’s a memorable one as Jago & Litefoot investigate the disappearance of a female Fantasy author. The story has got a fantasy feel of its own with some mystery and horror elements thrown in combined with some fine character moments.

Next up John Dorney’s first script for Jago and Litefoot, “Swan Song,” which finds the intrepid trio encountering ghosts from the future in a team of scientists whose lab was built on the site of Jago’s theater. The story has some great emotional moments with Jago forming a bond with a scientist from the future whose dream of being a dancer was destroyed by an auto accident.

Finally, “Chronoclasm” wraps up the season as we see the villain behind it all. It’s a thrilling and action packed story with some great twists including two different version of Jago from differents appearing. The only downside was that the villain’s motive, which was meant to humanize him, is a bit overdone.

Still, Series Three remains one of the best sets Jago and Litefoot with the middle two stories being outstanding examples of how good the series can be.. The addition of Leela gives the stories a good tone as well. Originally, she was supposed to leave at the end of Series Three, but would return for one more turn as in Series Four they encounter the mysterious Claudius Dark.

Series Four came out in March 2012 and got off to a rough start in the first few scenes of, “Jago in Love,” as Series Three ended with the cliffhanger and the opening scene of the box sets resolves it but not in a way that makes sense. However, once everything is straightened out, Jago, Litefoot, and Leela decide to take a holiday at Brighton where Jago falls completely, madly, disproportionately in love with a singer. However, some strange ghostly evil is afoot and Lifefoot and the Professor will need Jago’s help to take care of it, but is Jago set to leave his friends behind forever?

This is a story that could easily become pantomime because most of these premises have done in fiction to death, yet the story comes off beautifully. Nigel Fairs’ script is handsomely written and thoroughly researched. The soundscape is great and I loved the recreation of the 19th Century music as well as the fair.

In “Beautiful Things”, courtesy of Professor Dark, Jago and Litefoot get tickets to an Oscar Wilde play but Litefoot has had a bad experience with Wilde personally and would rather look at cadavers. Litefoot finds himself involved in the investigation of several young men who have gone into comas. Jago and Litefoot find the crimes are tied in with a man who’s been trying to meet Mr. Wilde. Writer John Dorney does a great job at capturing Oscar Wilde. I loved his interchange with Jago when Wilde teased Jago’s verbosity. Wilde also shines in the when confronting the villain. This would also be the first of many Jago & Litefoot to feature Victoria-era historical figures.

In “The Lonely Clock,” After the events of the previous story, Jago and Litefoot board a train to flee their enemies and are separated from Leela. The ghost train is great atmosphere and leaves Jago and Litefoot to play off one another in this spooky environment where time seems to be changing speeds, and then they find a dead woman on the train.

At the same time, Leela and her companion encounter a woman who just murdered her fiance and has more secrets to hide, having had an offer to represent her by an attorney, who happens to be one of the enemies of Jago, Litefoot, and Professor Dark. This story works solid sound design, great acting, and a great conclusion that is exciting even if I found the shocking reveal to be instead a bit expected.

In, “The Hourglass Killers,” Claudius Dark really takes the lead here as he confronts the nefarious scheme of Kempston and Hardwick, who have been lurking to one degree or another throughout the box.

Jago had some great character moments, both in terms of revealing his emerging courage, as well as being re-united with the woman he fell for in, “Jago in Love,” and has a very poignant end.

Series Four is another superb box set with some fantastic science fiction elements. If anything, it’s slightly stronger than the previous series. The sets ends with our heroes heading with the Sixth Doctor (played by Colin Baker) in the TARDIS and thus becoming actual Doctor Who Companions. Rather than having another series come out in the Fall, Jago and Litefoot appeared in two stand-alone single disc Doctor Who stories.

First up was, Voyage to Venus which finds the Doctor, Jago, and Litefoot landing on Venus. It’s a pulp fiction vision of Venus with a matriarchal society you’d read about in a 19th century or early 20th century science fiction. It’s a fun idea and fairly well executed.

The second tale was Voyage to the New World which has the trio travelling to the 16th century and exploring the mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke. Matthew Sweet turns in a script that’s a well-researched and well-written story filled with rich and evocative atmosphere and language. Sweet shows incredible talent in creating a script that grips the imagination, while creating a wonderfully charming fantasy.

The leads all turn in great performances and are graced by a superb guest cast.

The story ends with the Doctor dropping Jago and Litefoot off back in London. It turns out that he gets them into the exactly correct location, only a little later than they would have hoped–about 75 years later.

Series Five of Jago and Litefoot came out in the Spring of 2013 finds them dealing with living as men out of time in the late 1960s. Ellie has survived into the 1960s without aging much due to the experiment done on her in Series Two and now owns the former Red Tavern. She’s a different character at this point which makes for a different dynamic in this series. In addition, this set features a great, updated 1960s version of the Jago and Litefoot theme.

The series does a good job setting up Jago and Litefoot in the 1960s in the first story,  “Age of Revolution,” with Jago as a TV presenter for a Victorian Music hall revival show, “Those Were the Days” while Litefoot runs a Victorian bookshop. The second half of the story goes a bit off the rails as the writer tries to use Jago and Litefoot to make a political point.

“The Glutonous Guru” finds a classic 1960s new age guru worming his way in, in more way than one. As Litefoot and Ellie race to save Jago from a horrific fate that he seems all too eager to embrace. Writer Marc Platt really took the 1960s setting and went to town with it. The story is not for everyone and I couldn’t recommend listening to it anywhere close to mealtime.

“The Bloodchild Codex” is about an 18th Century magician who found a way to provide Eternal life and two different people who want the book that will do it. A somewhat typical ghost story that’s unrelated to the series arc and therefore cut short to support the arc. Really, this story could have just as easily occurred in the Victorian era.

“The Final Act” finds Jago and Litefoot fighting the villain of the box set in what’s essentially a bit of a sequel to “Talons of Weng-Chiang.” The story has some good moments but loses momentum at the end as writer Justin Richards can’t resist throwing in one more element of Talons. Other than the fact it took the villains three generations to prepare their evil scheme, like the previous story, there’s little that demands this story be set in the 1960s.

The Fifth Series of Jago and Litefoot isn’t bad but it’s a bit frustrating and one of my least favorite series. The series showed there was great potential for taking these two investigators of the infernal and plopping down in a different century. Yet, only in, “The Glutonous Guru,” did the series realize the 1960s potential to its full worth. If anything, Jago and Litefoot were a bit too comfortable with the 1960s and too adjusted to it as the series started and that made them seem like different characters. If Big Finish wanted to do Jago & Litefoot in the 1960s, they should have done two series of these so they could really get into the feel of the era. Instead this set is kind of written with the thrust that they’ll be home by the end of the set, so they don’t really play it up to its full potential.

Of course, there’s a good case to be made that this was a big departure for the series and perhaps shouldn’t have been done in the first place. Certainly, it’s fair to say the series had drifted from its original premise. The Mahogany Murderers had presented Jago and Litefoot as fighting infernal forces in Victorian England. This series is about time travelers who have visited Venus and are having the Doctor and his companion around for adventures and it isn’t quite what many were expecting.

Series Six would change that as Jago & Litefoot returned to their roots. That’s not to say they were done with the Doctor, but the next time they met the Doctor, they would be guest stars in his series and not the other way around.

We’ll take a look at Series 6-Series 8 next week.

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