One of Big Finish’s most consistent lines comes up trumps yet again, with another quartet of highly enjoyable tales for Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot. They’re a little outside both their normal stamping ground and their comfort zone for a lot of the time, but that doesn’t stop them from becoming embroiled in diabolical plots, mind-bending dilemmas and horrendous adventures.
On the extras, Jonny Morris admits to being influenced by Christopher Priest in his tale for the set, the debut story The Flying Frenchman, and with that in mind it (ironically, given the content) makes a lot more sense. There’s a certain amount of time given over to introducing some of the other passengers and crew on board ship with our heroes (including a lady who kept putting me in mind of Stephanie Cole’s “cou-gar” on Still Open All Hours, mixed with Tim Brooke Taylor’s Lady Constance!) before a mysterious fog descends and they encounter another vessel… and then another… and another… Messrs. Benjamin and Baxter have a lot thrown at them in this one, and quite a high concept just about comes off.
Justin Richards provides two tales for the set, the first of which, The Devil’s Dicemen, is set in Monte Carlo, and is very cleverly based around the character of Jago. To say more would spoil it, but it’s one of those rare stories where it couldn’t play out in this way with any other character. David Warner guest stars as one of Professor Litefoot’s fellow medical professionals, and I’m delighted to hear that he will be encountering our heroes again in the next set.
Simon Barnard and Paul Morris’ third story is very much of the period – Island of Death has a very H.G. Wells and Conan Doyle feel to it, with some strong material for all of the ensemble, as well as the requirement for a number of French accents, which are adeptly done.
That leads into Justin’s Return of the Nightmare, which wraps up a number of the ongoing plotlines through the box set. There are a couple of convenient contrivances in this (this alliteration lark is catching), but otherwise it ends the set on a high.
Coupled with some very different sound design and music from Howard Carter, and the excellent performances from Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter, Lisa Bowerman has assembled a very strong cast, all of whom seem to be well-versed in multiple voices and accents – you’d swear that there are considerably more actors involved than appear on the cast list.
Verdict: A thoroughly entertaining and diverting four hours. 9/10