Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Doctor Who, "The Justice of Jalxar"

Following on "The War Against the Laan," the fourth release in the Tom Baker/Mary Tamm series of Doctor Who audio adventures from Big Finish is "The Justice of Jalxar" (approx. one hour; released March 2013).

The Big Finish synopsis of the story reads:
They call him The Pugilist. 
It is the dawn of a new century and a vigilante is on the loose. The scourge of the criminal underclass. The saviour of the virtuous and the protector of the weak. The police are baffled, the public enamoured… but Professor George Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago are on the case. Or at least they will be when they've finished their beer. 
What is the source of The Pugilist's spectacular supernatural powers? Is he alone in his noble quest? And what is his connection to the spate of corpses discovered around London? 
As they descend further into a nefarious netherworld, the infernal investigators may be out of their depth. They're going to need help if they're to get out of this alive. The help of an old friend and his new assistant. The help… of the Doctor and Romana.
The "Justice" of the title is a robot along the lines of Judge Dredd, who keeps the peace by arresting, trying, and sentencing those who have violated local law. Unfortunately, the only punishment that seems to be in the robot's brain is death. As the Jalxar craft crashed on Earth in Victorian times, and the robot damaged, it was repaired with local parts, resulting in something of an unintentional Steampunk design.

With the assistance of Professor George Litefoot and showman Henry Gordon Jago from "The Talons of Weng-Chiang," the Doctor and Romana quickly sort things out. (According to an included interview, this production was the first time since 1977 that the three had met.)

The Doctor is in fine form, referring at one point to "the bracing aroma of Victorian England." Later on, Romana, no admirer of primitive transportation, reflects upon taking a carriage, "I'd have thought you'd have developed the internal combustion engine by now, rather than relying on livestock."

It's pretty clear that these Fourth Doctor audio stories aim for a high ratio of humor to drama, something fitting in well with Tom Baker's approach to the character. Mary Tamm has a droll sense of humor as well, and, of course, Jago and Litefoot are the same comic foils as in "Talons." All of this makes for a breezy, amusing story, short on peril but long on the pleasure of listening to the four main characters interact.

Trevor Baxter Tom Baker Christopher Benjamin
From the Big Finish site: Professor Litefoot and Mr. Jago flank the Doctor.

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