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At last! The Doctor, Sil and the Ice Warriors!
on 2 April 2010
In 1985, during Colin Baker's first full season portraying the Doctor, the "powers that be" at the BBC decided that the series needed a "much needed" rest, which led to the cancellation of the proposed next series of DOCTOR WHO and its eventual replacement with THE TRIAL OF A TIMELORD which is, of course, available on DVD as are all of Colin Baker's televised adventures.
However, that proposed next season was already being planned and scripts were already written which were then cast aside and never used. Fast forward 25 years and BIG FINISH Productions, who have done some sterling work creating new stories for previous Doctors on Audio, dust off these scripts, adapt them to work better as sound only tales, and release them in a new series called "The Lost Stories" so that these stories are finally available to be experienced by everybody, whilst finally existing in some kind of parallel DOCTOR WHO universe. THE NIGHTMARE FAIR was the first release, and MISSION TO MAGNUS is the second.
In MISSION TO MAGNUS Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant are back recreating their roles as the Doctor and Peri, alongside the return of Nabil Shaban as the very popular villain from that time, the slug-like evil entrepreneur Sil. The setting - a planet dominated by women - is a bit of a "ho-hum" science fiction cliché to be honest and this does tend to date it a little, but classic series monsters the Ice Warriors return in a very effective way, and the whole story barrels along with a lot of fun and energy and is generally a very enjoyable couple of hours entertainment.
2 CDs contain the two 45 minute episodes in much the same format as the TV series was using back in 1985 and the style is very much of that period in the show's history. How much you enjoy this story does rather depend then on how much you like that era of the series, but it's an entertaining story with two likeable main characters recreating very well the essence of the characters as they were played back then and, in many ways, improving on them to make them more accessible. Also, the scenes with Sil are an absolute joy.
Both discs have a lengthy "behind the scenes" piece at the end which gives a nice roundness to the project in these days of various "extras" but the first section does rather break the momentum of the story if that's what you're trying to listen to.
All-in-all, then, it's a fairly enjoyable piece of typical mid-eighties style DOCTOR WHO, and certainly worth trying. It does also fill in one of the gaps in the unfolding story of the series for any kind of television WHO completist.
As to whether the rest of the range as announced does, however, feel quite so essential, remains to be seen. After this, some of the source material seems to get a little more obscure.