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Rogue Justice by Geoffrey Household – BBC7 ( a quick review)

Having just run Rogue Male, BBC7 ran an abridged version of Rogue Justice this week. I (along with generations of others) thoroughly enjoyed the story of the ‘Rogue Male’ and was looking forward to the adaptation of the sequel.

Unfortunately it offered very little in comparison to it’s forebear. Perhaps the best example I can give of this, is when it finished today, I was expecting another 10 episodes. So flat was the ending it merely felt like the end of a chapter.

I think the easiest way to explain why Rogue Justice fails is simply to compare it to Rogue Male.

Rogue male was an intimate battle between our un-named hero and Major Quive-Smith (a German agent, never stated but implied). The hunter and hunted and a certain symmetry of character make this battle engrossing. There is tremendous suspense in the original story, and the narrative and the locations are simple and clear. The drive is the hero’s obsessions and character. The impression given in the book is that the death of his lover was more a catalyst that lead him to become a lone hunter, the personality, the character traits were already there, this is no lame Deus Ex Machina, more a revelation to the character. His symbiotic relationship with nature is a pleasure to read, and a real generator of suspense.

There are no protagonists in Rogue Justice worthy of a mention, just a few nasty Nazi’s (yes it is explicitly Germany this time) . He never pits his wits against the elements let alone someone comparable to Quive-Smith. His lover becomes the overwhelming driver for his revenge on a state, her torture almost out of Sax Rohmer.

The feel is more of an extended travelogue with an occasional fight with ‘the Germans’, a Jewish character is introduced and you feel he may become an outlet for discussions with our hero, but he is just sidelined halfway through.

I guess the main criticism is that it feels like a different character in a different kind of novel, but most importantly, and more simply, there is no suspense and no resolution.

Listenable, absolutely, it passes the time, but once you have heard the original, decidedly ersatz.

BBC7 – Rogue Justice
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hb6n4

Radioarchive torrent
http://radioarchive.cc/torrents-details.php?id=4879

Radioarchive Rogue Male torrent
http://radioarchive.cc/torrents-details.php?id=1008

5 Comments

  1. Hicksion wrote:

    I’m just downloading Rogue Justice as I type.. and have to say I was thoroughly looking forward to listening to it, as Rogue Male is for me one of the best Radio productions I’ve ever heard.

    Perhaps it is tough to best such a superb story such as RM… but I hope your review is at least in some part too harsh! ;)

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  2. CLC wrote:

    I agree, it is difficult to write a sequel to Rogue Justice, it was also a huge gap, it was a story written by a man with different views and experiences. Please let me know what you think, perhaps I was being harsh! I guess I was really looking forward to it.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Hicksion wrote:

    @CLC
    I’ve just listened to the full story – and while I still believe such a story is still a great way to pass some time.. the review is correct. This story feels… how to say it..mundane. The standard of RM is hard to follow, no doubt. And this ‘new’ story seems to miss the mystique of the first. The simple, man-versus-circumstance-versus-the major, is totally engrossing. This story feels like every other espionage story. For some bizarre reason I feel the explicit indictation that it is Hitler and Germany who is the enemy seems to lessen the impact. It makes it too, well, generic? After all, who wouldn’t consider Hitler and Germany the enemy? RM had a simple structure that for me still makes it an absolute must for any audio book/story fan.
    Oh well, it was decent – but not a fair companion to the original, the quintessential tricky ‘second album’ perhaps?!

    Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  4. CLC wrote:

    You have very accurately explained what I burbled at through my review, totally agree…

    Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Hicksion wrote:

    @CLC
    Thank you.
    I have to say that I am a total ‘audio’ addict. I have been a radio fan since a young boy ( and had a chance as a writer to work on the medium on many times ) I am as I type listening to RJ and, well, still trying to find that special element that made the original so ‘listen-worthy’ if there is such a word.. I can’t help feeling that a large percentage of what made RM so listenable was Michael Jaystons voice – which is frankly perfection for such a story! That and an amazing story of course!
    One note I’d like to make – I am eternally glad such a site exists, because for me audio drama, comedy etc is still one of the most engaging forms of entertainment around. God bless BBC Radio 7!

    Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

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