Four brand new stories featuring the investigators of infernal incidents, in one box set. The Flying Frenchman – Jago and Litefoot embark on a cruise. It’s supposed to be a relaxing break, but what terrors lurk in the mysterious fog? The Devil’s Dicemen – Arriving at Monte Carlo, Jago is keen to try his luck at the famous casino. But if he’s not careful he could lose a lot more than just money. Island of Death – Arriving at a beautiful island, Jago and Litefoot discover evidence of a missing expedition. Can they discover what happened to the ship’s crew before it happens to them? Return of the Nightmare – There is a murderer loose aboard the ship. If they can solve the mystery of the strange fog and return to London, will that make matters better, or far worse?
By jingo, it’s that time again.. Big Finish treat us to four more adventures from the ever lovable wordsmith and impresario Henry Gordon Jago and his erstwhile companion and friend, the learned Professor George Litefoot, investigators of infernal incidents!
After nine series’ of any franchise, there is always the danger that tiredness may set in as writers and viewers or listeners come to have seen everything that there is to offer.. which is why it’s pleasing that Big Finish have tried to keep Jago & Litefoot fresh by removing them from their usual stomping grounds and send them off to strange (and infernal) foreign shores.
The references and inspiration can at times seem a little too blatant, H. Rider Haggard and The Flying Dutchman for example, yet this is part and parcel of Doctor Who throughout the history of the show and Jago & Litefoot thankfully fails to descend into parody or cheap knock-of of the original source material.
The Flying Frenchman from Jonathan Morris is an intriguing tale set aboard the steamship Fata Morgana, trouble following our heroes even at sea! With a mysterious fog descending and strange vessels looming, Jago & Litefoot are confronted by their own parallels. The story sets up the series nicely, spending significant time fleshing out the ship’s passengers and crew before hinting at things to come in the closing moments. It is unfortunate that due to the narrative scenario Ellie and Quick are out of the picture for most of the series, offset perhaps by the refreshing change of pace and location.
Having survived the devilish fog (we’re sure that won’t be a spoiler to listeners!), our intrepid investigators make shore in Monaco and are faced with a very different kind of devilishness – Satanism and the selling of souls. The Devil’s Diceman is very much Jago’s adventure, his talents key in the resolution to this mysterious affair that centres around a series of disappearances at a high (the highest) stakes casino. Spooky and with plenty of twists, this second episode is a highlight.
Simon Barnard and Paul Morris give us our third tale of the set, Island of Death. Again beset by fog, the Fata Morgana arrives on a mysterious island, complete with a tribe and lost expedition. Influenced by the likes of Doctor Moreau and She, Island of Death is our personal pick of the set and atypical of Victorian adventure of the era (we’re big fans!). A charming and light piece that is possibly only letdown by the lack of originality in concept, particularly as The Defectors is released the same month… just how many mysterious islands are there in the world!? Otherwise, Island of Death is the highlight of the series.
Justin Richards returns for his second story of Series 9 (also writing The Devil’s Diceman), with the finale The Nightmare Returns, a tale that ties up the running loose ends throughout the set. With gruesome murders, stolen idols and an ancient demon, this is vintage Jago & Litefoot, complete again with Ellie and Inspector Quick. The Nightmare Returns brings Series 9 to a satisfactory Lovecraftian conclusion, yet is possibly the lesser of Justin’s two contributions to the set.
Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are, as ever, excellent, having fun with the variety on offer (and some brilliant accents) while David Warner guest starring as Dr. Luke Betterman in The Devil’s Diceman is a scene stealer, DWW is delighted to know he is scheduled to return in the landmark Series 10. Besides our regulars and Warner, the series is excellently cast by a wide variety of skilled actors, bringing the locales to life with a wide range of voices and accents, perfectly supplemented by the quality direction that has become the norm from Lisa Bowerman, plus some impressive sound design, particularly on Island of Death.
Big Finish have produced a fine set of new adventures for Jago & Litefoot, refreshed somewhat by taking our intrepid duo out of the smog and into exotic parts unknown and a definite improvement on Series 8. The scripts are top notch, peppered with atypical wit and humour, coupled with the sense of fun and enjoyment that has always run throughout the Jago & Litefoot series. With Benjamin and Baxter on cracking form and the rest of the cast rising to the occasion, Series 9 is a hearty recommendation and an essential purchase for fans of the series and newcomers alike. Corks!
Excellently scripted with wit, energy and a sense of enjoyable fun.
Benjamin and Baxter on top form.
Fantastically directed and produced with standout sound design.
Feels fresh with new locations and scenarios.
David Warner is in it!
The characters of Ellie and Quick are sidelined for the series.
Can be a tad unoriginal in places.