Jago & Litefoot Series Ten

Posted in Audio by - February 02, 2018
Jago & Litefoot Series Ten

Released October 2015

With Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot poised to become the subjects of a biography, the two intrepid investigators of infernal incidents return to the streets of Victorian London once more for a landmark tenth series.

The prospect of having their adventures followed and written up is understandably one that Jago takes to much more readily than Litefoot, and the introduction of the enthusiastic writer Carruthers Summerton as played by Toby Hadoke subtly alters the dynamic with a sudden mirroring of the audience as he pushes for the two to find and take another case and then reacts with heightened emotion to every revelation. ‘The Case of the Missing Gasogene’ by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris opens the set with a closed-room mystery featuring the death of a manservant and the coinciding disappearance of a gasogene and nothing else from that same room. After interviewing the absent-minded master, Sir Hardley Harecourt, who spends his time trying to refine such creations as a house train and automatic cigar dispenser, Jago and Litefoot find themselves in a competition of sorts to better impress Summerton, Litefoot focusing on the practicalities and dimensions of the house while Jago follows his own more supernaturally-inclined thoughts. Both trains of thought do end up having merit even as Jago’s insistence that a ghostly creature is inhabiting one of the gasogene’s chambers is met with unsurprising doubt, and Litefoot’s discovery of Harecourt’s not-so-secret laboratory and subsequent leads that take him to Oxford’s academia along with Jago’s recovery of the gasogene from a pawn shop prove how well the two can function to uncover vital clues even apart without the other as a balance.

This is a story that uses its darker and more ominous atmosphere to great effect as deaths continue to mount and fragments of clues are slowly pieced together to reveal an altogether more terrifying truth. It’s not entirely surprising that Harecourt is not quite as daft as he initially seems, but the duality of the vissipation and speciation formulas and the unexpected results of the implementation only further evoke the gothic tones so important to this release, blending the sort of science and supernatural notions that were fighting against each other for prevalence at this time in history. Both Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are at their best as their individual explorations take their own very distinct paths before once more adjoining for a tense climax where victory is anything but assured, and the supporting cast round out this small corner of London to immense effect with a thrilling mystery that highlights everything that a story in this adored franchise should.

Jonathan Morris’s ‘The Year of the Bat’ follows and offers up the very intriguing introduction of the Tomorrow Box, a means by which letters can be delivered to specified locations thirty years in the past. With Jago and Litefoot thus able to contact their former selves without revealing their identities, what unfolds is an audacious tale being told concurrently from two times as the present heroes guide the past and subsequently remember events that are seemingly occurring for the first time at their behest. Once Jago inadvertently gives himself the idea of becoming a theatre manager and the two investigators realise the powers and responsibility they have seemingly been given, events shift to a mysterious spate of abductions that ravished the area three decades previously, and it’s a young Jago who initially takes the lead and discovers a covert mission featuring a group of strange nannies who are in service of their own queen, a giant bat-like creature. Unsurprisingly ending up caught in the creature’s lair, he soon finds himself assisted by the local police brought about by a young Litefoot who was sent here by a mysterious letter of his own.

The simultaneous unfolding of the action from the direct experiences of the younger Jago and Litefoot as well as through the reminiscences of the older duo creates a fascinating means of conveying crucial information while also allowing the narrative to skip over more unimportant aspects, and Benjamin and Baxter both play up the blending of surprise and familiarity exceedingly well. Although Alex Lowe and Blake Ritson don’t necessarily sound like their respective older counterparts, they throw themselves into the adventure with gusto and capture the spirited essence of the cores of the beloved characters wonderfully. The four actors playing two roles are perhaps no better highlighted than when the nannies appear in the present seeking revenge for an event that has yet to play out, and the resultant thrilling action rolling through the city’s streets in the past is incredibly visual while also allowing the young Jago and Litefoot to directly interact without interfering with their proper first introduction in ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang.’ Neatly, Litefoot in the present is also able to utilize the Tomorrow Box to ensure a solution is at hand alongside him while also closing the loop of the two concurrent times interacting. The Tomorrow Box by its very nature does allow for some plot conveniences in a story that is very atypical in tone for this series, but the fascinating means by which the story unfolds adds an incredibly engaging dynamic that makes its confident experimentalism another immensely successful endeavour.

‘The Mourning After’ by James Goss opens with Litefoot and Ellie at Jago’s funeral after their friend was shot down, but the truth is far more ghastly than anyone could have ever anticipated. When Jago wakes up one hundred years hence in a broken history that ties back to Jago’s death and where God was declared dead in 1914, the strange zombie-like outbreak affecting London in Litefoot’s time is suddenly put into much greater and devastating context and opens up the very real possibility that the heroes may emerge defeated. This is another story that splits up the eponymous heroes, but the very dark future in which Camilla Power’s Adella continues her fight against the surrounding menace in the name of Jago and Litefoot whose biography she has read is a stunning environment that pairs well with the equally evocative mortuary where the bodies of the undead have been stored after being passed on by workhouses, prisons, and hospitals alike in Litefoot’s time.

The mystery deepens when David Warner’s Dr Luke Betterman first introduced in Monte Carlo in the previous series arrives in London. As before, Trevor Baxter and Warner share an immense chemistry, and the time spent with Litefoot and Betterman as both look into the strange bodies before them is immensely engaging. However, when Adella mentions that a mysterious Doctor wanting to better mankind was to blame, when Betterman’s knowledge of exotic neurology becomes all too useful, and when a train ticket suggests that Betterman arrived the day before this outbreak occurred and pokes a hole in his story that he arrived just today and saw news of Jago’s funeral by chance, the famed scientist once more comes under the inquiring eye of London’s esteemed pathologist. This was an intriguing angle that was only slightly played up in the two’s previous adventure, but the mounting evidence against Betterman creates a much more rounded case for Litefoot’s aspersions even when Betterman seemingly saves the day with an exotic poison before apparently fleeing the scene. While Jago’s return to the present with an antitoxin initially seems to occur by a somewhat underwhelming convenience relating to Professor Dark, the true nefariousness at play continues to extend beyond the running time of this emotional release full of distrust and danger and leads wonderfully and ominously into the finale as Jago and Litefoot are once more reunited to continue their investigations into Betterman and beyond.

With a run of unusual murders occurring and all clues pointing to Dr Luke Betterman as the culprit, ‘The Museum of Curiosities’ by Justin Richards closes out this tenth series. It goes without saying that Jago and Litefoot have seen more than their fair share of mysterious cases and deaths, and so spontaneous human combustion and upside down rooms are accordingly met with the requisite curiosity but hardly the engrossing fascination that a more amateur investigator might exhibit, a role that the returning Carruthers Summerton once more ably fills. Instead, as Jago and Litefoot duly split up to pursue different leads that take them to the Museum of Curiosities and the suspected Dr Betterman, the true intelligence of both characters is proudly on display as Litefoot uses his deductive reasoning and Jago uses his more worldly contacts to progress ever closer to the dangerous truth.

‘The Museum of Curiosities’ is a masterclass in tone and creating a sense of uneasiness. Though it seems unlikely that Betterman would be careless enough to leave incriminating evidence behind at the various crime scenes, his character is called even more into question when he mysteriously asks Ellie to join him as he returns to the Museum from which he has just escaped. The sound design and incidental music underscore David Warner’s multifaceted delivery with further tension and discomfort, and Betterman’s seeming unwillingness or inability to fully explain what lies before them is suggestive precisely because of its relative silence. Of course, the truth is never quite as straightforward as it initially seems, and as everyone involved once more convenes in the most unexpected of museums that is dedicated to the mysterious exploits of Jago and Litefoot, the past quite literally comes back to haunt the intrepid explorers in a terrifying manner befitting of a tenth release without belabouring the sense of nostalgia. Once more proving just how vital Ellie and Inspector Quick also are to these continuing adventures and showcasing just how well Jago and Litefoot complement each other, ‘The Museum of Curiosities’ makes the most of its cast to offer an atmospheric and exhilarating tale that revisits the franchise’s greatest hits while also establishing a wholly unique threat.

After ten series featuring superb writing, acting, direction, and sound design, it’s clear that Jago and Litefoot shows no signs of stopping, fearlessly taking its characters into ever more perilous situations without forgetting what has come before to make the series so accessible and beloved. As Geoffrey Beevers’s Master makes his appearance known in a dramatic cliffhanger, the stage is set for even darker times ahead.

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