It’s the early twentieth century, and the Doctor and Romana need help investigating aliens in London… so who do they turn to but the investigators of infernal incidents? The Justice of Jalxar reunites Jago and Litefoot with the Doctor in a sequel to The Talons of Weng-Chiang, but adds Romana to the mix.
It’s odd — to this listener the story feels not so much like a sequel to Talons as a crossover with Big Finish’s own Jago & Litefoot. The Justice of Jalxar dances around things cleverly enough that you could listen to this without ever having heard an episode of Jago & Litefoot, of course, but it still feels more akin to that series than it does Talons: at only 50 minutes, it’s a smaller, less elaborate story, and it lacks the period atmosphere of its original, too. But this is probably all for the best; trying to make a closer sequel to Talons seems fraught with problems.
To Big Finish’s credit is the idea of using Romana in this story, automatically giving you something to distinguish it from its predecessor. Jago falls for the lovely lady, and a lovelorn Christopher Benjamin vs an oblivious Mary Tamm is delight for the ears. Indeed, it’s the interaction between the actors and the characters that this whole story is about; the plot has its moments, but it feels cobbled together from stories we’ve seen before. (It seems like for a bit we’re going to get a Doctor Who take on the superhero genre, but then the story swerves away from it.) On the other hand, it’s just plain fun hearing Tom Baker, Mary Tamm, Christopher Benjamin, and Trevor Baxter have an adventure together, and unfortunately for them, the other actors might as well not be in this. (Though they’re not bad.)
Writer John Dorney gives us some good jokes and nice dialogue to support all these performances; I liked the joke at the expense of Superman. Also the Doctor and company waiting to be executed the villains was good fun. Howard Carter’s sound design was also very “visual”; this was one where it was easy to see the action from the noises happening, including giant steam-powered robots!
It’s a fun story — maybe not quite as striking as the cleverness of The Auntie Matter, but a well done romp, and an enjoyable 50 minutes. Really, it could only have been more fun if they’d squeezed in K9. So far I’m enjoying this second series of Fourth Doctor stories much more than the first.
(One feels a bit sorry for Benjamin and Baxter on the CD Extras — how many times can David Richardson rephrase the same questions about Talons?)
The Justice of Jalxar (by John Dorney; starring Tom Baker, Mary Tamm) was released by Big Finish Productions in March 2013.