Dead Men’s Tales

dead mens talesThe first thing that caught my attention with the beginning of season 3 of Jago and Litefoot was that the title of this first adventure was very … seafaring.  Now I should point out that as a fan of Cthulhu and his minions, this made me happy!   I go for mer-people.  I mean, barring a certain squid girl (Dagon), I don’t mean I find them attractive, but I like stories about them. “It’s like something out of the Black Lagoon!”  But when Leela comes out saying they are looking for a time distortion, the obvious thought is: there’s no way this has to do with sea people.  So when we are introduced to a gurgling creature of the sea and dead men walking out of the ocean, I think Davy Jones’ Locker and Pirates of the Caribbean.  And right there, in a nutshell, is the image that I conjured for the sea person.  Must have been awkward recording this…   I will take a moment here to acknowledge yet again, the cover artwork is outstanding!

But this story, while excellent, is very short.  No, I don’t mean to say they skimped on the story – it’s still nearly an hour, but the “wet men” portion felt like it was less than half of the story.  So what happens with the other half?  Leela!  And she’s fantastic.  The relationship between her, Jago and Litefoot is marvelous.  How do you improve on such an indomitable class act?  You add Louise Jameson as Leela and sit back to let the dialogue roll.  And some of it is off the charts outstanding!  Hearing Leela learn cockney slang is priceless but when she starts using it… that’s where the laughter really comes in. Her Crocodile Dundee moment is great too.  You know, the “that’s not a knife… this is a knife!” scene!  Great fun. Then her discussion about the Land of Nod (sleep) was even more fun as she acts like it’s a place.  But did she let a major secret out when she says: “It is sometimes better to understand more than others think!”  You said it.  And that was the Second Doctor’s very strategy throughout his time!  I wonder if the Fourth Doctor saw something he recognized in her when they started traveling together?

Litefoot is as good as ever and Jago continues his magnificent use of alliteration, as they go to a “rugged rookery of wretched rascals” to solve the mystery of the Wet Men.  I love listening to him, but Sergeant Quick gave me the most explosive laugh of the episode when he says he didn’t expect to see Jago and Litefoot “especially trying to hide behind a lamp post”.  (I never thought to try to hide behind a lamp post…!)

In the end, the dead men are, as one might expect, more than they seem.  These are not dead from something that happened, but rather something that will happen and they are looking to replenish their crew.  And the time distortion that Leela has come to investigate suddenly makes sense.  When the storm arrives, it’s looking for one man, Johnny Skipton, and I was reminded of the excellent short story by Ray Bradbury, The Wind.  Anytime one can anthropomorphize a thing like wind or a storm, it adds a sense of dread because… what do you do to beat it?  It’s a force.  Johnny Skipton had broken time and the force that is coming for him cannot be beaten.  How will they solve this mystery?  With typical Big Finish style!  And again, Justin Richards does a great job opening another season with a hook that caught this fish for another 4-story arc!

I don’t want to give away more than I have.  If episode one is anything to go by, we’re in for a good season.  But where is this season’s Moriarty?  Talp is gone.  Sanders is gone.  Are we in for a season with no main baddie?  Might be good if Leela is in the whole season; give us more time with her and our title heroes.  But there was mention of a Mr. Payne.  Or is that simply Mr. Pain?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see… tune in next week to find out!  ML

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