“Does that make sense to you or am I just quoting Shakespeare to a bunch of baboons?”
The plot: When Litefoot’s home is invaded by giant metal spheres, it seems that the end of the world is nigh. The enemy has revealed itself, the end game is afoot – can two Henry Gordon Jagos save the day?
Juicy Jagoisms: “There’s a reason why Wolfgang Amadeus never wrote a concerto for barrel organ you know.”
Writer: Andy Lane
Director: Lisa Bowerman
Music & Sound Design: Howard Carter
Cover Art: Alex Mallinson
Release date: June 2011
Main cast: Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago), Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot), Lisa Bowerman (Ellie Higson), Louise Jameson (Leela), Conrad Asquith (Sergeant Quick)
And so we come to the end of season three and, as before, it is up to Andy Lane to tie up all the threads of the arc and knit them into a hopefully satisfying conclusion. Lane got the ball rolling, so to speak, with his Companion Chronicle The Mahogany Murderers, which also set up Dr Tulp as a recurring adversary for the first season; so it seemed only right that he should be the one to conclude that narrative strand, which he did to great effect with moire than a touch of HP Lovecraft. The second season conclusion, The Ruthven Inheritance, where Lane had our heroes dispatch a centuries old vampire with unseemly haste and ease, was a bit of a step down really. How have things gone this time?
In many ways to write about this story is to also review the season as a whole , which makes good sense given that these stories are only available as box sets (and superbly designed and packaged ones at that). Season 3 has had perhaps the strongest overall narrative arc so far, with Leela (the evergreen Louise Jameson) arriving to correct temporal anomalies suddenly popping up all over Victorian London. This provided a stong springboard for a wide variety of the storytelling styles which have varied considerably from episode to episode. Dead Men’s Tales, Justin Richards’ opening tale of aquatic zombies proved weak on plot but stronger on character and dialogue and overall did a good job of introducing Leela into the fold but is undeniably the weakest entry of the four; Matthew Sweet’s excellent The Man at the end of the Garden was a fantasy inspired by E. Nesbit and Alfred Hitchcock while John Dorney’s equally fine Swan Song was a romantic tale of time travel and thwarted theatrical ambition.
That installment climaxed with ‘Mr Payne’ coming out of the shadows to reveal himself as the object of Leela’s quest and in Lane’s installment, which sees Litefoot having to vacate his home when it is invaded by alien creatures in large brass spheres, revolves entirely around his secret plan and its consequences for both the present, and the future. While the villain’s plan is probably a touch too close to that of Star Trek: Generations to be considered truly original, it provides the background for a surprisingly emotional story in which the heroes and villains confront what matters to them most. To do this the series has shifted completely over to science fiction by this point as World War I aircraft come crashing around Jago and Litefoot’s ears as anachronisms start to pile up and paradoxes start to abound, leading to not one but two Jagos appearing on the scene to great effect. The latter is such a fun idea that it is a bit of a surprise that it wasn’t introduced earlier in the story – but perhaps there was so much going on that there simply wasn’t room to milk it any further.
Along the way there is some great dialogue and some hilarious moments (including the heroes all uttering their various battle cries), while even supporting characters Ellie and Sergeant Quick are also given plenty of things to do. If not quite as good as the standout entries by Sweet and Dorney, this is none the less an excellent conclusion to this season, which then goes on to provide a lovely teaser for the next with the introduction of a new character with a very familiar voice.
Sadly the next batch of stories won’t be out until early 2012 and I for one am really looking forward to it.