Doctor Who: The Justice of Jalxar [Big Finish – Fourth Doctor]

Back in 1977, Doctor Who produced a story that became a bit of a classic, The Talons of Weng-Chiang.  The story featured some memorable guest characters played by Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter:  Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot.  In 2013, in true Big Finish style, the world of licensed Doctor Who audio re-teamed the pair with Fourth Doctor Tom Baker in this tale, The Justice of Jalxar, which is the fourth story in the second series of Big Finish’s Fourth Doctor adventures.

Doctor Who - The Justice of Jalxar

And on the whole, it is a successful effort, even though it’s a bit of an odd concept.  Whist Weng-Chiang is a riff on Sherlock Holmes and his adventures, The Justice of Jalxar draws a lot from comic book superheroes, if they were set in Victorian England.

The plot features the Doctor and Romana (as played by original actress Mary Tamm) arriving in England tracing some crashed alien technology.  It turns that it’s been found and co-opted by a local cabbie, who has used it to adopt a masked identity known as the Pugilist, who makes it his business to terrorize the London underworld.  This might all be all right, except that he’s also accompanied by a psychic alien robot programmed to execute everyone who feels any guilt.

The concepts behind the story are not complicated, but they are unique and interesting.  The Doctor, Romana, Jago and Litefoot have some fun interaction with each other.  Overall, the script is breezy, and the performances are good, with a natural feeling that is a big step up from the previous installments in this series, The Sands of Life and War Against the Laan (see here).  Furthermore, the supporting cast features an appearance by Adrian Lukis, who is well known to me as playing Mr. Wickham in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.

If there’s a downfall to the story, it’s simply that it’s a bit short–clocking in at only two episodes.  This is a shame because the story is much more engaging then The Sands of Life and it’s follow up (which were five episodes in total), and could certainly have used a bit more development.  Also, while Jago and Litefoot are a lot of fun to have back, they actually don’t have much impact on the plot itself, instead simply giving both the Doctor and Romana someone to talk to when split up.  A longer run time might have solved both problems.

Still, I had a lot of fun with the story, and definitely rate it as a Big Finish win.

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