‘Voyage to Venus’
Written by Jonathan Morris, directed by Ken Bentley
The Doctor has taken his old friends Professor Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago from the familiar setting of Victorian London to the realm of space and time. Hilariously, the Doctor’s guests have a hard time appreciating the immense possibilities available to the TARDIS. They attempt to deduce their landing site as any number of foreign lands while the Doctor blusters impatiently. He has not merely taken them to some strange land, he has transported them to the planet Venus!
Voyage to Venus is the first of two Sixth Doctor specials co-starring Jago and Litefoot. Christopher Benjamin continues to be an absolute delight as the voluminous Henry Gordon Jago and Trevor Baxter is of course amazing as Professor Litefoot, the adventuring pathologist. Reunited from their seminal appearance in the 1977 classic The Talons of Weng Chiang, Jago and Litefoot have found a new fandom in the audio format. Three series and a special one-off, these two are an absolute marvel, combining sharp dialog, biting wit and strong personalities and some incredibly imaginative plots to create an outstanding run of auditory escapades.
The Doctor intended to impress his friends with a breathtaking trip to another world, he of course finds that they have landed in the midst of a dangerous landscape. The Doctor and his companions come into contact with a stampede of rhinoceros-like creatures called Shanghorns who are fleeing from a hunting party of Valkyrie-like warriors armed with state of the art weaponry riding hovering sleds out of a Buck Rogers comic strip.
I have a soft spot for this audio story because my son enjoyed it so much. As the father of a four year old, I am very protective of anything that my son sees or hears. Luckily this story was innocent and full of enough character and excitement that he grew instantly fond of it. He was especially attached to the Shanghorns and of course to Henry Gordon Jago, to the point where he identified himself as the impresario. Admit it, Jago *is* larger than life.
This particular story is lots of fun in that it pairs up two companions gifted with voluminous vocabularies with the Sixth incarnation of the Doctor, the most brilliant and charismatic of his Eleventh personas. Jonathan Morris’ plot, involving a race of female warriors declaring their dominance over the indigenous life and the further revelation of the Venuisians’ origins is inspired as is the interaction between Jago and the aforementioned native Thraskin. There is a lovely scene when Jago entertains the Thraskin with some stage tricks that is touching. The Venusians are incredibly interesting and bizarre, one shows Jago her ‘husband’ who lives a scallop-like life attached to her hip.
There is so much potential in this short story that Morris and company delve into with gusto. For anyone looking for a less intense but intelligent tale with hints of the pulps, I cannot recommend this one enough.
Doctor Who Voyage to Venus can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below: