Sunday, 27 February 2011

Litefoot & Sanders written by Justin Richards and directed by Lisa Bowerman

What’s it about: Women are being killed on the streets of London, and the evidence points to it being the work of a vicious vampire. This should be a case for Jago and Litefoot but – to the astonishment of Jago – the esteemed investigators of infernal incidents have gone their separate ways. It’s now a case for Litefoot and Sanders – but Jago isn’t going to go away quietly…

Theatrical Fellow: Oh Henry Gordon Jago you wonderful old blackguard how I’ve missed you these past few months. I popped this story onto my MP3 player and within five minutes I was laughing furiously at his bull in a china shop approach, sparkling alliteration and marvellous metaphors! Christopher Benjamin is one of the countries best character actors and it is wonderful to see him shine in his own series. Long may it continue! According to Jago, Litefoot and he solve more crimes than all the inspectors of Scotland Yard put together, although he doesn’t like to boast. He sometimes wonders why a man of Litefoot’s calibre chose to waste his friendship on a duffer like him. Ellie suggests he could make a corpse laugh! He never considers it a wasted journey when visiting a good friend. All bluster and gunpowder but underneath he’s as soft as summer butter (what a lovely description of the man). Jago is mortified that Litefoot is keeping secrets from him and his undercover work leaves a lot to be desired (‘Vampires! Oh corks!’). Henry Gordon Jago is renowned for his cucumber calm and constant composure (hahaha!). His outrageous drunken disguise had me in fits (‘Ooh begorah!’). Financially inconvenienced at the moment. He recognises how out of character Litefoot has been and suggests it is all a ploy and that his word didn’t hurt him at all when we know this isn’t the case. An incompetent amateur bumbler! He wishes the vampire would stop looking at him like a piece of Sunday beef! Litefoot tells Sanders that Jago is not a buffoon but he does have a habit blundering into the truth. Sanders is defeated because he underestimated the courage, guile and ingenuity of Henry Gordon Jago!

Posh Professor: Litefoot is extremely sharp with Jago but it is desperately sweet how he is trying to protect his friend. He is quite shaken at their argument and heads to the pub to calm himself down. Is he burning the candle at both extremities? He is a surreptitious sleuth investigating bloodless bodies with the sinister Sanders. Litefoot tells Jago in a tense moment that his investigations are the dilettante investigations of an amateur and that he has tolerated his vain delusions for too long. Litefoot knew Sanders was the killer all along and wanted to draw him into the open, making him feel as though he was needed. He fears Jago’s death more than his own and Sanders envies their friendship. Their laughter as they escape the burning building is a wonderful affirmation of their camaraderie. Litefoot admits he has missed Jago throughout this investigation.

Standout Performance: David Collings is brilliantly menacing as Sanders. The scene where he attacks Mags (‘I just wanted to see if you flinch when I go to strike you!’) positively terrified me!

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Surely a surreptitious squint beneath the shroud wont hurt…?’
‘I’m very thirsty. You wouldn’t deny me a drink, would you Mr J?’
‘We have to find him before the vile vampire bares his nefarious fangs!’
‘Lets hope for all our sakes that Ellie is dead…’

Great Ideas: A clandestine cadaver is found drained of blood. There is a vampire abroad in London Town, the pea souper atmosphere hiding the sun and a perfectly breeding ground for the fiend. I loved the scenes with Mags the poor blind girl and how Jago recognises her con straight away. Sanders reveals himself as the vampire and he takes Mags’ life. There are hints of what is to come, of Sanders’ endless work, experiments and his hunt. Jago lights up white spirit to dispatch his old friend turned bloodsucker. Insects are drawn to Sanders because he brings death and they are attracted to death. Litefoot sets up a trap to ensnare Sanders but Jago blunders in and ruins everything. Transpires Sanders knew about the trap and Jago had an ace up his sleeve, Sergeant Quick and the constabulary setting fire to the building. Litefoot reveals a concealed window and they make their escape. The news of Ellie’s death is very shocking.

Audio Landscape: Back to Victorian London where it can be said the sound effects really conjure up a sinister atmosphere. Horse and cart clip clopping on the cobbles, a snarling, laughing murderer, lively tavern scenes, a squeaky door with Jago’s muffled voice inside, flies buzzing, insects crawling, clinking coins, a newspaper vendor, Mags’ scream, police whistle, Jago staking Mags and setting her aflame, sloshing riverside water, gorgeous crackling flames.

Musical Cues: Very nice indeed. What I love about this the music in this series is that it doesn’t smother the drama and only turns up when the situation needs some extra atmosphere. The score as Sanders attacks Mags is brilliantly dramatic and the fiery conclusion has some delicious music.

Standout Scene: ‘I think I’ll have that drink after all…’ says Sanders to Ellie in one of the most chilling double meanings I have heard in a long while. Plus Jago & Litefoot’s fiery argument as he turns his friend out in favour of Sanders is devastating.

Result: From the terrifying opening scene to the devastating final twist, the opener for season two of Jago & Litefoot matches the superb quality of the first year. The performances of Benjamin, Baxter and Collings are sublime and Justin Richards’ flair with luminescent loquacious language makes this an enchanting experience. Like The Bloodless Soldier this is a quiet opener but it is bursting with wonderful character moments and real menace and atmosphere. Big Finish have struck gold with this series: 9/10

Buy the season two boxset from Big Finish here:

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