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Podcast: Black Jack Justice

"Once again Decoder Ring Theatre presents another page from the casebook of that master of mystery, that sultan of sleuthing, Martin Bracknell's immortal detective Black Jack Justice."

One of several online Podcast series from Decoder Ring Theatre. This one homages the "mystery noir" programs of the 1940s and 50s.

Jonathan J. Justice, also known as "Black Jack," is a Private Detective who, along with his associate, Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective, solves cases for the modest fee of $39.95 a day, plus expenses. While they normally deal with mundane cases (most often watching spouses for signs of disloyalty), they will frequently get wrapped up in much larger, and more dangerous cases, much to the annoyance of their public detective friend, Lt. Victor Sabien.

The series takes place shortly after the end of World War II, in an unidentified city in North America, presumably further north than Chicago or New York (as going to either is considered going "down"). There are some strong hints that this city is in the United States, but as the writer and performers are based in Toronto, Ontario, this is not certain.
This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Trixie knows how to use a gun and solves as many cases as Jack does; Trixie is often the rescuer when Jack gets himself into trouble.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Cops and Robbers"
  • Badass in Distress: One of Jack's many talents is to get into trouble, try to get out of it and get saved by Trixie. Sometimes the roles are reversed.
  • Badass Normal: Jack, Trixie, and Sabien
  • Brain Bleach:
    Jack: I'm not the one that was making nice with Freddy's identical cousin.
    Trixie: Don't remind me. I'll have to wash my imagination twice.
    Herman: Freddy! Is Dolly your girl?
    Trixie: Ugh... three times.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sometimes the narrative is cut short because someone is wondering why the narrator hasn't spoken or has a weird look on their face. In one case, a very hung-over Jack actually concludes his monologue out loud. ("See what I mean? Oh, was that out loud?") In episode 51, Jack actually refers directly to the fact that it is episode 51 in his opening monologue.
  • Breather Episode: "Much Ado About Norman" is a hilarious, easygoing misadventure sandwiched between "The Reunion" a twisted family piece, and "Dance, Justice, Dance", perhaps one of the most action packed episodes in the series.
  • The Cameo: Mary Jo Pehl appears in "A Midsummer Night's Noir" as Anna Castle, star of an extraordinarily cheesy detective movie. Appropriately enough, Jack and Freddie spend part of the episode heckling the movie as they watch it.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the first episode the coffee is "not very good, nor very fresh," but in the very next episode Jack is a coffee expert who can and will go out of his way for coffee.
  • City with No Name
  • Clear My Name: Jack is often accused by Sabien (A detective in Homicide) for murdering whoever was murdered in the episode. ("Sabien always thinks I did it, and he always ends up with the right guy behind bars.")
  • Cowboy Cop: Lieutenant Sabien ("As for our friend "Ricky..." Someone once told him cops played by the rules. Exceptions are a slippery slope, and he was about to find that out.")
  • Darker and Edgier: Oh it's less violent and action oriented than Red Panda Adventures, but it's pretty clear that there isn't going to be much victory champagne to be passed around either. The city is full of mentally and physically scarred World War II vets, some of whom have turned to organized crime for greed or survival; there's murder, theft, and blackmail from the ivory towers to the darkest alleys to the quaintest suburban homes; And some cases like in "Justice and The Deluge" and "The Beefsteak Botheration" reveal just how terrible and crummy people can be. There are moments of levity, but it's a world where our heroes, the police, and the city undertaker, will never be too short of work; a world not of crusades but of everyday survival.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack, Trixie, Sabien, and a lot of the one shot characters.
  • Detective Drama: The "Closed" variety. (Audience are as much in the dark as the detectives)
  • Detective Patsy: A couple of episodes showed a client attempting this.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Inverted. Fredrick Josiah Hawthorne does not like Trixie's nickname for him("Freddy the Finger"). Of course, the fact that he's a coward and she's not prevents him from doing much beyond complaining.
  • Downer Ending: "Justice and The Deluge", you know things are going downhill when Jack starts the episode bright eyed and chipper on a RAINY day.
  • Emergency Impersonation: One of Jack's clients, to whom he bore a passing resemblance, hired him to act as stand-in for a family "reunion." Because of this, the family, who wanted to kill the client for his inheritance, sent a hitman to kill Jack, instead.
  • Evil Twin: Invoked and then Subverted in one episode. Invoked by their client's husband to explain away any crime someone might see him commit in The Problem of the Perplexing Pastiche
  • Exasperated Perp: Jack will often use this method to both get his captors angry enough to make mistakes (such as blurting out the truth), and to delay them until Trixie can arrive.
  • Exposition: The monologues aren't the only way the audience is clued in as to what's going on... given, of course, that they can't really see anything. Papers will be read out loud, and the characters will explain what's going on, even if it might be obvious to someone already there. This is Lampshaded in some cases. ("Why do you say that?" "A strange compulsion for exposition?")
  • Femme Fatale: Jack keeps falling for these. Luckily Trixie can spot them a mile away. Of course, Trixie herself fits the protagonist version of this trope (when she's not playing the Action Girl), so it's no surprise that she can recognize them.
  • Friend on the Force: Lieutenant Sabien
  • Genre Savvy: Surprisingly, Trixie more than Jack, even though he's been at it longer.
  • Genre Throwback: It's a series by Gregg Taylor, that's all you need to know.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: You like Christmas, right? So do the characters. It's an excellent expletive to use when something isn't going right. ("Aw, christmas!")
  • Hardboiled Detective: Both of them.
  • The Hyena: Sabien, if the humor is black enough, and if Jack is suffering enough.
  • I Found You Like This: Dorothy Evans found Jack outside her home after he was shot. She brought him in and nursed him back to consciousness. Unfortunately, there was no time to bring him back to health, as her call for an ambulance tipped off the dirty cop that shot him in the first place.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Sergeant Nelson isn't the brightest cop on the force by a long shot, but when it comes to a long shot, he can nail it with a pistol. ("Handguns aren't much of a distance weapon, no matter what you might see in the cowboy pictures.")
  • Improvised Weapon: Dot whams a dirty cop with a coal scuttle.
  • In-Series Nickname: Jack used his nickname because it was good for business. Jack earned his nickname by being sapped on a regular basis before the War.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Trixie genuinely believes in the law, will seduce, fight, and sleuth her way to the truth... but is a tad unpleasant to be around. ...except for those poor men to whom she has an interest in at the moment.
  • Jumping-On Point: The beginning of each season.
  • Knowledge Broker: Freddy "the Finger" Hawthorne is generally liked by the criminal element, on account that he usually serves as a lookout and will hold or move items on their behalf. A personal friend of Jack, he serves as an informant for the duo from time to time.
  • Lady in Red: Trixie ("Hah, speechless. The day I couldn't do that anymore is the day I stop wearing the little red dress.")
  • Lampshade Hanging: As episode 47 "To the Manor Born" becomes more and more cliched, Trixie gleefully lampshades the living hell out of it.
  • Leitmotif: Jack's monologue is almost always supported by a simple bassline, while Trixie's usually features a more complex arrangement that includes a saxophone. The exception is sometimes at the beginning monologue for the episode (regardless of who tells it), which has its own arrangement.
  • Lovable Coward: Freddy "the Finger" Hawthorne, who is sometimes Jack's Cowardly Sidekick. ("Don't kid around about that stuff, Jackie! I'm a marshmellow, and you know it!")
  • The Mafia: Jack and Trixie seem to take on, and take down a family or organization at least once a season. (The Sullivan Mob and Chick Mason's organization, so far. Marginally involved with the downfall of Rocco D'Angelo's organization and the Giannelli Family)
  • Must Have Caffeine: Jack loves his coffee. ("Put the safety back on the Baretta, Trix. I died five seconds ago from a tragic lack of coffee.")
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Played straight with Rocco D'Angelo (aka "Rocky Angel", aka "The Angel of Death") and somewhat subverted with Marty "The Knife" Rand. Marty got the name from peeling potatoes back in the army, and kept it because it was good for business. He did run an illegal gambling establishment, but so far is on good terms with Jack, who was his commanding officer in the army.
  • Nice Guy: "Button-Down" Theodore West is the epitome of this trope.
  • Pen Name: The opening identifies the author of the series as "Martin Bracknell," but the stories are actually written by Gregg Taylor.
  • Private Detective: Jack and Trixie
  • Private Eye Monologue: The narrative normally jumps back and forth between Trixie and Jack.
  • Reality Ensues: It doesn't matter how big of a fish you are in the pond, bullets work just as well on you as they would anybody.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: While he's never actually gotten anywhere with her (yet), Button-Down Theo does maintain a romantic interest in Trixie. She doesn't mind that so much because he doesn't press the issue beyond the occasional flirt, and because he's a "useful contact" at Braithwaite's, a rival, and much larger, detective agency.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A few of their clients, a few of the people they face, even Trixie in one episode.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Jack was in Infantry during the war, as well as a number of the other men in the city; this helps the duo gather information from other veterans of the war, and it also helped toughen him up from his early days. However, Jack doesn't like to talk about the war to those who have never seen it. Even his monologues don't go into much detail on the topic.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Most episodes have a least one reference to the detective, particularly one episode which was set in roughly the same time and location. Of course, it was a Dream Sequence brought on by exhaustion from lack of sleep due to the current case, and it kept getting interrupted by the telephone.
  • Stock Phrase: At least once in every single episode, the agency rate is mentioned. ("thirty-five dollars a day, plus expenses") Recently, this has been increased to $39.95/Day, plus expenses.
  • Tap on the Head: Frequently being on the receiving end is how Jack earned his nickname, "Black Jack," before the War.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sergeant Nelson
  • Took a Level in Badass: Before the war, Jack would get sapped a lot, enough to earn him his nickname. After the war, it became much harder to get the drop on him.
  • Where The Hell Is Springfield?: The name of the city Jack and Trixie call home has never been mentioned.
    • Since the writers and performers are based in Toronto, Ontario, there is a possibility the city is in Canada, but the series has kept this vague enough to be based anywhere in the north-central part of the North American continent (within the temperate climate area, but not as far as the permafrost).
    • So far, "The City" does not refer to Chicago, New York (whether it refers to the city or state is unclear), Ann-Arbor, Albany, Detroit, Ohio, and Arizona, as these places were explicitly mentioned in dialogue and/or monologue, describing where people or groups of people, are, came from, or went to.
    • Episode 47 ("To the Manor Born") makes a direct reference to the protagonists being within the USA, but since the protagonists are well outside the city during this episode, it's not certain if "The City" is a US city, or if it is close to the US/Canadian border. No mention of border crossings strengthen the possibility of a US city.
  • Whole Plot Reference: A few episodes as re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Averted. Jack and Trixie both have very strong alpha personalities; this causes a a lot of friction that prevents any romantic connection from forming. So much so, that both they and others have commented that they'd be more likely to kill one another.
  • With Friends Like These...: You'd think that Jack and Trixie would have gone back to working solo, considering just how much they seem to dislike one another, but they still remain partners. Of course, they also seem to enjoy bantering with one another, so it can sometimes be difficult to separate actual spite from cynical humor.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Jack and Trixie are often hired to "get the goods" for husbands or wives who believe their spouse is cheating on them if, heaven forbid, there are any goods to be got.

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alternative title(s): Black Jack Justice
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