The Bloodless Soldier (2010)

Well its finally here. The first Jago and Litefoot series finally arrived in my download box. Four full cast adventures featuring the double act that made their only appearance in The Talons of Weng-Chiang back in 1977. This series is due to the popularity of the Companion Chronicle story ‘The Mahogany Murderers’ back in 2009. All four stories are written by people who have contributed to Big Finish Doctor Who stories over the last eleven years. The first was written by Justin Richards who wrote the 2000 story Red Dawn. Richards has a tough job in trying to take what we loved about The Mahogany Murderers and translate it into a full cast 50 minute drama.

The story sees a group of soldiers return from serving overseas but one of them has been infected by a beast and is mutating. Back in London there are a series of deaths and unexplained events. One of the soldiers was the brother of Ellie who is the barmaid at the pub that Jago and Litefoot frequent. The story sees Private Michaels trying to sell the Captain to Jago to put in one of his shows like some sort of Freakshow act. During the impending battle that takes place at the end Private Higson (Ellie’s Brother) becomes infected and is the subject of a mercy killing at the hands of Jago. Ellie is told he died a hero and is not told the truth.

The plot suits this story. Had it been a Doctor Who adventure then perhaps it would have been a bit underwhelming which is perhaps worse than a dud story. It’s pace started off quickly at the beginning before hitting a peak at just the right time. The characters in this were all very strong and very well acted. I particularly like Lisa Bowerman who returns as Ellie. The character was really excited about her brother coming home but then absolutely devastated when he died. Bowerman did a great job making the character believable throughout. I thought that the moment when Jago kills Private Higson was a surprising moment. I expected someone else to do that job but I think that probably would have been chickening out which would devalue to character and the story. Trevor Baxter (Professor Litefoot) and Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago) are outstanding in this story. The way that they sound exactly as they did back in 1977 was one of the reasons why The Mahogany Murderers was so well received. They give comforting performances and at no point throughout did I get bored or feel like they we running out of steam.

The Bloodless Soldier is a brilliant opening story. It did exactly what it was suppose to and lay down the groundwork and show what the rest of the season is going to be like. The plot was lightweight but needed to be and quite unusually this story was more of a character piece because what we saw was a different side to Jago and Litefoot when Jago kills Private Higson. For me the £30 I paid for this series was value for money just on this offering alone. You can clearly see why Big Finish commissioned a second series before this first series was even released.

Good stuff!

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