Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
Every time I listen to a J&L boxset I think they have nailed the characters even more than the last time and that surely they can’t do even better. Every time they surprise me and outdo the previous set. Series 13 is no exception!Let’s get the obvious, yet never taken for granted out of the way first. Christopher Benjamin & Trevor Baxter are wonderful as Jago & Litefoot and bring presence and panache to spare in their portrayals of the characters. Lisa Bowerman, no matter how busy she is with numerous Big Finish productions, her photography work, acting and somewhere I’m sure a private life never puts in less than 100% as a director and gets 100% from everyone as a result.
David Richardson, who is sadly making this his last J&L release clearly has his heart in it right till the end and will be sorely missed. With such a winning team I don’t want anyone to go, but after 60 adventures, you can understand why it might feel like the right time. Now on to more specifics on each adventure…
The Stuff Of Nightmares
Paul Morris has given us a really cool, edgy and different J&L story to kick off the set and indeed throughout this boxset particularly expands what a J&L set can be without it ever feeling like it’s not Jago & Litefoot.
This story see’s our two heroes and Ellie having nightmares in which they see their lives as they might have been. This gives a chance in one of my favourite scenes for Benjamin & Baxter to play a role reversal and see Jago being the quieter, less ‘showy’ one and Litefoot be the more bombastic performer. It does show why each of their voices is perhaps more suited to their normal roles but hell if it isn’t fun and I’ll wager the actors had a lot of fun doing it.
Add to all this a time agent from the future that might just have been a colleague of Captain Jack for all we know.
This also leads to a really nice set-up for the next story in a set where each story feels unique and distinct; but nicely feels part of something bigger too.
Chapel Of Night
So, after the ending of part 1, J&L find themselves stuck in a parallel earth. It really feels like in this set, as opposed to the alien and other cosmic threats coming to them, they are going into the sci-fi world to find them and it’s a lovely twist on the format.
J&L find that they are not known to most of their friend in this new world and those that do know them are not the friends they are at home and are more like colleagues. When they meet Inspector Quick it turns out he is only acquainted with Litefoot; but he does put them on the case once more. The case being of Mrs Batholomews strange ‘chapel of the night’: which we as the listener get to see is a place being used by a woman from another world who is stealing the forgotten souls of London to try to bring her master into our realm of existence.
Another great story, this one by Jonathan Barnes. An especially nice element is Litefoot working out where they are but perfectly characteristically keeping it to himself till he is certain and thus drawing out the drama.
How The Other Half Lives
Matthew Sweet pens this story in which we see J&L having spent some time in the alternate reality finding themselves struggling to get by without jobs or anyone who knows them. So they decide it’s time to meet themselves; themselves from this world that is. They find Jago has a wife and Litefoot has relics that harken back to their first adventure together and they find out all too soon the risk these relics of Weng Chiang that they put a stop to in their world are all too dangerous still here.
What can I say; going to another reality to bring our heroes full circle is inspired and thrilling
Too Much Reality
Another Big Finish favourite Justin Richards writes our closing act and what a show stopper.
After the events at the end of the last part Jago & Litefoot and ‘Jago & Litefoot’ are paired up (or quaded up) with the infernal investigators in this world that Jago & Litefoot never became here; Aubrey & Betterman. Jamie Newall is great as Aubrey, but for me my heart melts whenever I hear David Warner (in this case playing Betterman) pop up in Big Finish or TV & film.
Everything comes to a head with the investigators looking into bodies that seem to fade away; which in turn brings them to larger answers of what has been going on all along. But the big question of the day is, once everything is solved and put right, can our Jago & Litefoot find their way home?
As above the performances by Baxter & Benjamin are flawless and with them playing two versions of themselves too. I think these men must only get more full of energy with age if their performances are anything to go by. I mentioned Lisa Bowerman as director above; but she also finds time to be a great supporting regular as Ellie and never fails to entertain. The whole guest cast is magical. It shows something when in the extras Carolyn Pickles is talking about the other job she is doing for TV at time of recording this audio is the last series of Broadchurch; which she was in from the start. This is a great example of Big Finish getting the best actors going and ones who are not exactly short of work on some of the best regarded films and TV shows of our time.
David Richardson has done an amazing job with J&L from series 1 and I hope he is rightfully proud of the work he has done and the legacy he hands over to the incoming producer.
This set is released as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Jago & Litfeoot first appearing on TV and is a fitting tribute. With a really strong nod to the original adventure baked into this boxset but with a lot of elements involved I doubt the amazing Robert Holmes could have even dreamed of.
I look forward to the the next 40 years of Jago & Litefoot (and don’t dare tell me Baxter & Benjamin don’t have it in them!!) I give this release a ruddy good, tip top, triumphantly, terrific 10/10.
You can buy it here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/jago-litefoot-series-13-1584
Order from Amazon