Review by Jacob Licklider
This review (a week late….) is going to be a bit different from the other reviews I’ve written for this site. Other reviews often go into the performances and a bit of the plot and makes a judgment based on that, however, Jago & Litefoot: Series 14 is a release that shouldn’t necessarily be looked at like a standard release, being presented as four audiobooks adapted from the scripts of an unrecorded Jago & Litefoot written before the tragic passing of Trevor Baxter. It is Baxter to whom this release is dedicated, giving the series one last hurrah and allowing four of the remaining stars one final chance to shine telling a story. Paul Morris and Julian Richards were put in charge of adapting the scripts into audiobook format for one narrator, originally with the idea being only one long audiobook, but due to the second episode being told in the first person while the other three are in third person limited. This format shift in one long audiobook would have been jarring. It also allowed Morris the chance to adapt the scripts which he had a hand in writing so the adaptation could be a bit smoother as Simon Barnard, Jonathan Barnes, and Justin Richards had no hand in changing their scripts for the project.
The actual adaptation is perhaps where Series 14 falls flat across the board: each story is a great Jago & Litefoot yarn, but in turning it into an audiobook inflates each episode’s length to nearly three hours. This is most felt in the first and last story, the first of which sets up the set and is a character piece looking at how Jago & Litefoot reintegrate into their reality and the last being a fast-paced pantomime adventure. The middle two stories fare slightly better: The Laughing Policeman works as a pastiche of film noir where an inspector is convinced Jago and Litefoot are villains so is trailing them while the third story is one all about the Royal Family being on a zeppelin. Oh yeah, this series has zeppelins over London for the first three stories with an orange smoke being the primary mystery of the series which does eventually reveal a returning villain from Doctor Who which is something that Jago & Litefoot didn’t do often, but when they did they would often knock it out of the park. Encore of the Scorchies is what comes to mind, and here the audiobooks do actually give us quite a good glimpse as to what this villain and their plan at this time would be. It’s not necessarily the best realized plan; mostly due to the format being the audiobook format, but it is one that allows for some interesting perspective that Julian Richards tried to explore in the final episode. Also there is just a bunch of gothic ghost story tropes being used with this villain that makes for an interesting twist on the genre of ghost stories.
The narrators are all brilliant of course: Jamie Newall is perhaps the standout, showing just how much of a versatile actor he is as he is not confined by the character of Aubrey. Duncan Wisbey has the story with the policeman as the main character and is told in the first person which makes for an interesting casting of essentially the character, as it is almost presented as a piece of someone’s memoirs. But of course, it is Lisa Bowerman with her ever perfect narration, getting right into the heads of the characters, and Christopher Benjamin giving one last hurrah as Henry Gordon Jago in the aforementioned pantomime episode (it’s set right in the New Regency Theatre) giving the character his all and giving us one final goodbye. Jago & Litefoot: Series 14 may not be the release that it was supposed to be and while it does suffer for it, it is a treat for fans of the series. It is something that newcomers really shouldn’t use as an introduction as this is something for the fans and as such it will not be receiving a score. Just give it a listen when you’re ready to say goodbye for the last time.
You can get it on download here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/jago-litefoot-series-14-audiobook-2418
Check out the rest of our Big Finish reviews!