Sunday, 20 September 2015

Jago And Litefoot Series 8

Six months is too long to wait. Not as long as eighteen months I grant you, but a very very long time when Series Seven of Jago and Litefoot ended on that cliffhanger.
Have you listened to series seven? If not, go out and buy it now, it’s available here and come back when you have listened to it…
All done? Then I will continue…
Series Eight carries on from where Series Seven left off, Jago and Litefoot have been introduced to a new act for Jago’s theatre, the fabulous fun and feral SCORCHIES, first seen here – again, go and buy it and come back when you have listened to it! This is turning out to be an expensive review, so The SCORCHIES are back, malevolent muppets with melodic menace (alliteration creeping in there), so without further ado, my lords ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you for your delectation and delight those marvellous masters of motley, those investigators of infernal intrigue, those redoubtable resolute rakes, ladies and gentlemen I present Jago and Litefoot Series Eight!
Series Eight as with the other series is split into four stories so I will look at them all in turn.
Encore of the Scorchies by James Goss
The SCORCHIES appearance at the end of series seven took me completely by surprise, and raised my expectations for series eight, as more titbits of information leaked out it was made known that this was going to be a musical episode, something I have been hoping the new TV series of Doctor Who would do since 2005. But this is no ordinary musical, it’s a Jago and Litefoot musical featuring killer alien puppets with music and songs by Howard Carter. How could it go wrong? In a word it doesn’t – ever – not even for one second. This may not only be the very best episode of Jago and Litefoot, but the best episode of anything ever, full stop. It’s darkly funny, horribly macabre, exciting and sad, and the songs – wow, they are all in the style of Victorian music hall, you will never hear the laughing policeman in the same way again. To compare it to anything else is pointless, this is completely unique, an utter triumph for all involved. Just one question for Big Finish, will there be a soundtrack album? If so take my pre-order now.
The Backwards Men by Andy Lane
After the triumph of Encore of the SCORCHIES, could this measure up? Well, yes and no. It’s completely different, more traditional Jago and Litefoot in style, a traditional infernal investigation.
The daring duo investigate why people are gathering on street corners in herds, milling around and walking backwards. The trail leads to the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, a complex character with very odd motivations. Litefoot is given a lot to do in this episode, playing almost a dual role and Jago is given more depth than his usual bluster and buffoonery in the denouement. Christopher Benjamin is incredible here, showing some of the man behind the facade. A thought provoking episode, quite sad and flat in a way, but utterly engaging and characterful.
image1Jago & Litefoot & Patsy by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris
The Talons of Weng-Chiang was such a rich mine of character and plot that even the most minor roles are seared on the mind.
Remember this character on the right?
Not only does she get a name: Patsy, but gets a whole back-story, and is integral to the plot and that of the next episode. Patsy is a mudlark, a beachcomber who scavenges flotsam and jetsam from the Thames. She finds a large mutant fish which leads her to come into Jago and Litefoot’s world and on a life changing adventure which is concluded in the next story.
The depth of charactarisation is incredible, atmosphere drips from the script, it’s just so visual, you can “see” what the characters are seeing and the dialogue is so vivid, it’s part love story, part horror story, and part alien invasion by stealth, which leads us on to the fourth story.
Higson & Quick by Justin Richards
Following on from the incidents in the previous story, Patsy, Jago and Litefoot are all possessed by the Darkling Facade, an alien intelligence. With our heroes having become what they usually battle against it’s up to Ellie Higson, barmaid at the Red Tavern, and Inspector Quick to save the day. This could be an opportunity for Messers Benjamin and Baxter to go over-the-top and ham it up as villains, but the performance is far more chilling. They are hardly any different, slightly colder (and off their beer), but the same people just gone wrong. The repercussions of what they have done while possessed weighs heavily on our heroes, and the ending of the season is strangely downbeat, leaving our heroes to go away on a much needed holiday as a lead in to series nine.
Again, I love Jago & Litefoot, it’s my favourite range from Big Finish, even better than Doctor Who. The writing, the atmosphere and the acting are all first class with Benjamin and Baxter a joy to listen to, ably supported by Lisa Bowerman as Ellie and Conrad Asquith is Inspector Quick. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, a joy from beginning to end, as Henry Gordon Jago may say… a cavalcade of creditable characters on a commendable curiosity of corking calamity!
Series Eight is anything but a calamity – it’s marvellous and I sing it’s praises at 10/10.
Now then, how long until March 2015 and Series Nine?!