The Minds of Magnox

Posted in Audio by - December 08, 2020
The Minds of Magnox

Released December 2020

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Although Big Finish has already thrown its considerable weight behind Time Lord Victorious with two audio adventures featuring the Eighth Doctor released and with more to come, BBC Audio now looks to add another medium to this momentous crossover event with the Tenth Doctor starring in Darren Jones’s narrated audiobook ‘The Minds of Magnox.’

Regardless of the Doctor or the medium, the entries so far in Time Lord Victorious have more or less been fully accessible to an audience with either complete or no knowledge of the saga’s overall events. However, in what is likely to be more common going forward, ‘The Minds of Magnox’ does require some knowledge of what has come before to fully appreciate and understand these events, both with the Doctor’s primary motivation as well as the climax. To its credit, the story just about works even without that foundational knowledge, but its placement within the forthcoming novel All Flesh is Grass means that the events of the novel The Knight, the Fool, and the Dead ultimately provide a tremendous amount of context to enrich the overall experience.

The plot here is quite simple as the Doctor and Brian the Ood arrive on the planet Magnox to find an answer to a question so personal and vitally important to the Doctor that he won’t even mention it to his companion. This forms a concise but natural splitting point for the duo through which the world of Magnox is developed on multiple levels as the Doctor looks to prove himself intelligent and worthy enough to gain an audience with the wisest minds who head this repository of knowledge while Brian traverses the less grandiose side of society and soon finds himself contracted to do what he does best. There’s little doubt that Brian has quickly become one of the more fascinating characters introduced in recent Doctor Who after a somewhat tenuous beginning, and ‘The Minds of Magnox’ presents this Ood at his most psychopathic while deftly developing his own upbringing that was superficially similar and yet wholly distinct from others of his subservient species. Showing events from Brian’s perspective and focusing so heavily on his internal monologue and conflict is a highlight of this release, and the unpredictability stemming from the unique morality of this Ood proves to be a fascinating counterpoint to the Tenth Doctor who at this moment is continuing to wrestle with the morality of his own recent decisions.

With Jacob Dudman providing the narration as well as impressions of David Tennant and Silas Carson to bring the Doctor and Brian to life (adding another famous voice in a surprisingly poignant coda), the need for sound design is amply filled by vibrant description that maintains a blistering pace through the surprising amount of plot and necessary detail covered. The hierarchy of Magnox becomes a visual and breathing entity itself, and the physical changes of its denizens that result from the accrual of knowledge is a devastatingly effective image that so contrasts the Doctor’s search for knowledge of a very different kind that eventually leads to the very unfamiliar position of being forced to confront both the expected and unintended consequences for others of the actions he takes. Of course, the Doctor and Brian must eventually reunite, and the bombastic finale that deftly pulls in the Kotturuh who can end or limit the lifespan of other species makes the most of the vast narrative tapestry this saga has already crafted while reinforcing just how exciting and ultimately unknown the overarching plot’s overall trajectory remains.

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