Image Credit: BBC Audio (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of The Minds of Magnox
By John Salway
Name: The Minds of Magnox
Type: Audio Drama
Current TLV investment: £203.49
We seem to have jumped a little bit into the future for the next release in the Time Lord Victorious saga. The Minds of Magnox, an audiobook by BBC Audio, sees the Tenth Doctor and Brian the Ood visit the planet Magnox, where information is both a currency and a lifelong calling, seeking the answer to a very important question. According to the official TLV timeline, this takes place right in the middle of upcoming novel All Flesh Is Grass – indeed, the latter part of this audiobook may contain something of a spoiler…
Unlike the full cast Paul McGann audio dramas I’ve previously covered, this is an audiobook with a single reader, the talented Jacob Dudman, who continues to impress with his mimicry skills. Here his famous David Tennant impression is as engaging as ever, but he also does a very strong Ood voice. It’s interesting to compare his performance here as Brian with that of original Ood actor, Silas Carson, in audio drama He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. Dudman plays the role as a little more polite and generally Ood-ish, while Carson’s version of Brian was a little bit angrier and outwardly antagonistic. Neither interpretation is wrong, but it’s interesting that Carson pushes the emotions of the character a little further, while Dudman presents a Brian that’s a little more traditional.
Really, this is Brian’s story as much, or possibly even more, than it is the Doctor’s. While the Doctor visits the local archive and takes the official route to seeing the all-knowing Minds of Magnox, Brian’s boredom with trailing after the Doctor sees him returning to his occupation as an assassin, tasked with killing the very same titular Minds. Naturally, Brian’s less savoury half of the adventure is much more fun, as he gains a squad, including something of a companion of his own, and we understand a little more about how his mind works. Despite the murderous influence of ‘Mr Ball’, his translation sphere/psychotic second personality, here he’s somewhat of an antihero, sympathising (to an extent) with the struggles of the underclass. But unfortunately, as an assassin, Brian only has one solution to a problem in front of him. These motivations are, however, explained as the story finally gives me something I’ve been after for a while by filling in his backstory. It’s a sad little tale, and one I would still like to see fleshed out for the future, but it fills in the gaps and makes a lot of sense, while also tying in perfectly with the T-shirt, don’t you worry!
While there’s a lot of interesting character work in Brian’s half of the story, the Doctor’s sections are a lot less interesting, as he confronts such terrifying foes as bureaucracy and a mental assessment! It takes a long time for him to actually meet the Minds of Magnox, though thankfully when he does things start to kick up a notch, particularly when Brian arrives to carry out his mission. And even worse, the death-dealing Kotturruh come calling, with something of a grudge against our favourite Time Lord. As events on Magnox take a turn for the worse, the story does well to demonstrate just how odd a pairing the Doctor and Brian really are. Why is the Doctor, a man ostensibly of peace, still spending his time with an assassin? As he considers whether his actions in the Dark Times are truly for the greater good, is this a partnership that has run its course?
The Minds of Magnox is an enjoyable adventure for Brian the Ood, and a somewhat average outing for the Doctor. I wish more had been done to either jazz up the Doctor’s half of the story, or integrate his side of the tale more frequently with Brian’s criminal activities, because honestly that’s where all the excitement is. Saying that, the tale concludes strongly as events on Magnox take on a grander scale with the two plot halves finally coming together, making this outing becomes far less standalone than it first appears. Finally, there are a few little treats for the Time Lord Victorious connoisseurs out there, with a tidy, low-key reference to the Daleks! series, and a surprising cameo appearance to close the story. Increasingly I find myself hoping that Brian the Ood (as well as the Dalek Restoration Empire), will survive beyond this multimedia event…