I originally wasn’t going to post this until after I finished reviewing the Tom Baker era, but after learning that Trevor Baxter, our dear Professor George Litefoot, had passed away prompted me to do this earlier than expected. In a way, I thought that it would be a wonderful way to honor and pay tribute to Baxter, especially since “Jago & Litefoot” was how I started getting into Big Finish audio dramas and audio books.
One thing that I found really interesting about Series 3 is the fact that this time around, it seemed like the stories had more of a science fiction or “Doctor Who” vibe to it, as compared to the last two series which felt more akin to Victorian gothic mysteries or Sherlock Holmes cases. This, of course, is probably due to the nature of the big bad and the recurring theme of this particular series, which, is refreshing, as it shows that Big Finish knows how to shake things up a little so that there would be some variety in the stories that they come up with.
As usual, Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are as brilliant as ever as Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot, and the material that they are given always allows them, and their secondary cast, to shine.
Last time, both Litefoot and Jago were put through the wringer, and now their bond with each other has only gotten stronger and stronger, as can be seen in the stories throughout this particular series.
This series also has the addition of Leela (Louise Jameson), who has slipped back into the role of Leela as if she never left. The only thing that is noticeable here is the fact that Jameson’s voice is deeper now, but everything that she brought to the series is just magical, and her chemistry with all the cast members of the series is just phenomenal.
Once again, I have to praise Big Finish for creating stories that are truly inventive, with sound effects that astound me and terrify me to the bone just as much as I would be terrified of “Doctor Who” aliens and creatures today like the Weeping Angels.
Each of these stories is strong, although I did feel that Justin Richards’ “Dead Men’s Tales” was a little bit weak for an opening story. My favorites in this series are “Swan Song”, by John Dorney, followed by Andy Lane’s series finale, “Chronoclasm”. Matthew Sweet’s “The Man at the End of the Garden” has some pretty amazing sound effects and a great story that makes for a good and creepy locked room mystery, but I loved all the plot twists and turns, and the emotional oomph that “Swan Song” and “Chronoclasm” had.
From here on out, you know the drill!
Series 3 started out with Justin Richards’ “Dead Men’s Tales”, which, as I mentioned earlier, I felt was a little bit weak for a series opener.
However, I did love how Leela was so easily integrated into the world of “Jago & Litefoot”, and that it didn’t take long for her to have good chemistry with Ellie Higson (Lisa Bowerman) and Sergeant Quick (Conrad Asquith). I also loved the fact that Leela went to the opera and worked undercover as a barmaid in this story, and I would have given anything to see her doing those things.
I also loved how they made the Wet Men sound terrifying, although I do admit that I really had to concentrate while they were talking so that I could understand what they were saying.
This was also their first case involving the recurring theme for the series- the time breaks- and was also the first time that they mentioned the big bad for this series, Mr. Payne.
Matthew Sweet’s “The Man at the End of the Garden” was a wonderful gothic Victorian locked room mystery that had me guessing until a certain point with all the unpredictable twists and turns that the story had. This was a little bit of a return to form as this felt more Sherlockian than “Dead Men’s Tales”, and didn’t really prominently feature a time break or Mr. Payne.
However, the story itself is a gem, and the sound effects were wonderful. There has always been something unsettling about jackdaws, ravens and crows, and when you hear them battering against a building like they did in this story, it truly is terrifying. So, kudos to Big Finish for making that work.
John Dorney’s “Swan Song” is a wonderful story that I honestly would have liked to see translated on the small screen, as I would have liked seeing how they would deal with the time breaks bleeding into one another, with the people on the other side looking like ghosts at times, and with them crossing into different times.
This was also more of a “Doctor Who” story as compared to “The Man at the End of the Garden”, as it dealt more with the time breaks and finally introduced Mr. Payne to us.
I always have soft spot for stories that involve the theater and performing arts, so this one was definitely one that I was guaranteed to love. I love how the New Regency Theater did have a spirit, and that Jago recognized her, and that she inhabited Alice because they were both alike in the sense that they had a need to perform and to be loved by those they are performing for. I also love the fact that in the end, Alice and the theater herself sacrificed themselves to save the world. I thought that that was just beautiful.
I also love how they punctuated the story with strains of the music for “Swan Lake” making it even more haunting.
Andy Lane’s “Chronoclasm” was an excellent finale to this series, as we finally discovered who Mr. Payne is, and what his plans are goals are, which threw me or a loop because I didn’t expect that he was collecting enough time energy to be able to bring back his wife. And it became even more tragic when it turned out that the Time Eaters, those aliens in big steel balls that seem to keep on following poor Litefoot around, who showed Payne what to do to get his wife back, actually used up all his wife’s remaining energy, which makes his entire plan worth nothing at all.
This was definitely more into “Doctor Who” territory, and I loved having Ellie around again, as she hadn’t really been there for “The Man at the End of the Garden” and “Swan Song”.
Plus, I loved how the ending was unexpected and how it set up the next series, with Leela discovering that her Time Ring (a la Season 12) doesn’t want to work, and that both Jago and Litefoot met a mysterious stranger called Professor Dark, a name that had been teased lightly in this episode.
In the end, this series refreshingly decided to delve a little bit more into “Doctor Who” territory, due to the fact that Leela is around and due to the fact that they were dealing with breaks in time as the recurring theme.
I think my only gripe is that I wish that Payne had been set up more, as David Collings’ Sanders was in the second series, but in the end, I am more than happy with what they did with series, especially as the stories resonated with me more.
I am also glad that Leela will be sticking around for a little while longer, and I cannot wait to see what Professor Dark and the fourth series has in store for them.
Did you like Series 3? What was your favorite story here? What did you think of Louise Jameson’s return to the role of Leela? Let me know what you think in the comments below!