The controversy of over who exactly is a companion takes a new twist with this Companion Chronicle since it features Jago and Litefoot, the intrepid Victorian professor and music hall impresario who helped Tombo in classic fourth Doctor adventure The Talons of Weng Chiang.
That's right. They never travelled in the TARDIS, and they were only in it for one story. Are they technically companions?
Bah. Who cares?
They were, as it happens, popular enough at the time that a spin-off series was suggested – yes, they were the Captain Jacks of their day – although it never happened. The Mahogany Murders builds on that imagined series of adventures to show us a Jago and Litefoot still solving mysteries together.
In this case, the mysterious case of a life-sized, perfectly formed wooden mannequin that can walk.
Professor George Litefoot: the eminent pathologist who advises the police in some of their grisliest cases. Henry Gordon Jago: the master of ceremonies at the Alhambra Theatre. These are two very different men from contrasting strata in society who became firm friends and collaborators after their adventure with the Doctor and Leela battling the evil Weng-Chiang.
Some years later, Jago and Litefoot have defeated dangerous denizens of the daemonic darkness together. They have stood side by side against threats to the British Empire. But when a body is found on the banks of the River Thames and Litefoot's post mortum reveals that it is actually a highly detailed wooden mannequin, their most dangerous adventure begins.
Dr Tulp has masterminded a deadly scheme, Jack Yeovil and his murderous gang plan to live forever, and only Jago and Litefoot can stop them...
Is it any good?
It certainly does a very good job of capturing the essence of Jago and Litefoot, as well as the era they're in. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter do a great job of recreating the characters.
I'm just not convinced about the plot of the story. It's not the absence of the Doctor that worries me (again, bah, who cares?). It just feels more like an escapee from some other series altogether, with villainous humans able to create perfect facsimiles of people and animate them with souls. It's a good story that cracks along nicely, remembers (for the most part) that it's supposed to be two people telling their halves of a story to each other, and maintains tone throughout. It just feels like it's breaking certain laws of the Doctor Who universe.
All the same, it's fun and you could do a whole lot worse than this. Definitely worth considering, if you don't mind Doctor-free stories.
Christopher Benjamin (Henry Gordon Jago)
Trevor Baxter (Professor George Litefoot)
Lisa Bowerman (Ellie)
Writer: Andy Lane
Director: Lisa Bowerman