Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: Jago & Litefoot Series 3

Big Finish, out now

Our intrepid pair of Victorian investigators assist their old friend Leela as she tries to track down the cause of time breaks that threaten to destroy the world…

As director Lisa Bowerman mentions in passing on the CD extras, this season of Jago and Litefoot resembles nothing so much as a Victorian version of Sapphire and Steel, with Time breaking through in various places, threatening death and destruction. This isn’t a criticism – the Sapphire and Steel adventures are sorely missed – but it does give a very different feel to the season.

Dead Men Walking, by Justin Richards, explains Leela’s mission to the 19th century, and picks up on a passing reference made in the final adventure of the second box set. There’s an air of John Carpenter’s The Fog to proceedings: although the horror element is toned down, this could easily have been a very frightening piece. Richards wisely makes this more character than plot-driven, as Jago, Litefoot and Leela fall into a very comfortable relationship that evokes the spirit of The Talons of Weng-Chiang more than any other story to date.

The Man at the End of the Garden eventually becomes one of the most touching dramas that Big Finish has created. Matthew Sweet uses his knowledge of the period to good effect, in a story that blends levels of fiction and reality. Lisa Bowerman gets a strong performance out of her child actor, which helps sell the concepts at the story’s heart.

John Dorney’s Swan Song is the closest in structure to Sapphire and Steel, as two different time zones meet. One to listen to very carefully, as clues to the eventual resolution are provided right from the first scene, and the tragedy at its centre, while slightly reminiscent of a recent TV Doctor Who story, gives Christopher Benjamin a chance to show some of Jago’s heart.

 The final story, Andy Lane’s Chronoclasm, takes us back into melodrama, as various plotlines are brought together – which seems to be Lane’s role in these seasons. Almost inevitably, the bad guy isn’t doing what he does for evil reasons (but again, his motivation has been seen on the big screen in a recent sci-fi cinematic ‘event’). The involvement of Nikolai Tesla isn’t adequately explained, and the whole story is slightly unsatisfying – particularly given that a further cliffhanger, involving another big name Doctor Who guest star, feels tacked on to the end.

The extras are, as always, entertaining – though the lack of input from Lane is odd – but perhaps could have done without the ever-present musical background!

Verdict:  An interesting left-turn away from horror for this season works well.  8/10

Paul Simpson

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