“Subtlety is my watchword!”
“…one of them.”
“What are the others?”
“Here we are.”
“Then I shall finish the list for you later.”
“What on Earth is going on?”
“Bit of a dustup, by the look of things. Best we were going.”
“Yeah, well, if you could take this gentleman with you…”
“But I have not yet fought off all the primitive attacks!”
Strax drops by the Red Tavern in search of a dynochronic energy source…and quickly winds up kicking off a proper bar fight. Which means our favorite Victorian gents soon find themselves offloaded with an unexpected third party…
“It is good. You do me great honor.”
“I’ll do you great something, if you come back!”
As the boys share a pint with the erstwhile Ellie Higson (Lisa Bowerman), everyone’s favorite Sontaran Commander cum butler quickly gets into further run-ins with hookers and a certain brain-robbing “Cobbletown ghost”…
“May I ask you a question?”
“Of course. Good bye.”
“Another question. You enter your kitchen and the floor is flooded. The taps of the sink are running and the sink is overflowing. What is your first action?”
“Simple. I locate the intruder who sabotaged the culinary facility, interrogate them to determine their motives, and then obliterate them with extreme prejudice. I trust that helps.”
But when Inspector Quick (Conrad Asquith) sets our heroes on the track of London’s latest infernal incident, they run across our third party once again…and under the most suspicious of circumstance.
“You suspect he may be involved in the mysterious machinations of the cranial killer after all?”
“Do you remember us?”
“Of course I remember you…how can I forget you, Miss Jenny…Madame Vastra?”
“Come on, professor…it’s an easy mistake, you do look rather like a madam!”
“I certainly do not!”
But there are stranger things about than Strax, and a surprising use for all those extracted brains…
“I think under the circumstances, a night in a haunted house is in order. What do you say, Henry?”
“Corks! …I suppose it makes sense to take a look at this potentially paranormal property…”
“That’s the spirit!”
“Not sure that’s the best choice of phrase, actually…the only spirits I really approve of come in bottles!”
Can the boys, together with Ellie and their unusual new companion, uncover the mystery and set things aright?
“I tried to explain, but he insists you, professor, are the great detective Madame Vastra, and he thinks Mr. Jago here is an housemaid called Jenny. And he thinks you’re both married.”
“Corks. You mean he thinks we’ve got husbands?”
“Not exactly…he thinks you’re married to each other.”
“Mind you, he thinks I’m a bloke…”
Whoever got the rather ingenious idea to combine Classic Who’s intrepid investigators of the Victorian era with an equally beloved linchpin of New Who’s own Victorian “Paternoster Gang”, give him or her a no-prize.
Benjamin, Baxter, Bowerman and Asquith, of whom much collective love has been shared on these pages over the years, adapt surprisingly well to foreign visitors, accommodating everyone from later Doctors, different companions, time travel and distant planets to New Who regulars with aplomb, with barely a feather ruffled in the process.
“Are you willing to assist in the next trick?”
“No, you’re not!”
“Of course, it will be an honor.”
“Then please, make your way up to the stage and join us, sir!”
“Get out of the way, human scum!”
“Well…this should be entertaining…”
“That’s one word for it…”
Starkey’s Strax, for his part, has been the consistently most entertaining recurring character of New Who (Doctors and companions inclusive…), with his clueless and very alien outlook forced into a decidedly ill-fitting Earth-London Victorian era of restraint.
It just works, and Starkey takes what could in other hands have merely been a cheap one off gag and imbues a particularly endearing quality to the character, one that leaves Whovian and Newvian alike clamoring for each return appearance.
There’s really no way to go wrong with an ensemble cast this strong and, newcomer Starkey aside, comfortable working together on a regular basis, but author Justin Richards and frequent Jago & Litefoot directress Lisa Bowerman do not disappoint, offering a typically amusing mystery with strong atmosphere and the expected elements of the macabre.
While likely intended as a standalone special treat for the listening audience, Jago & Litefoot & strax fits right in with the J&L canon, and as a longtime favorite (and in fact, close contender for all time best Big Finish fine), that’s high praise indeed.