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'Mission to Magnus'

CD audio adventure released December 2009. 2 45-minute episodes

Writer: Philip Martin
Director: Lisa Bowerman

Roots: She and 'Amazon' myths, Logan's Run, Peter Pan. Amorb's motto seems to be an adaptation of The Goodies' "We Do Anything, Anytime". The Sisterhood's lock-picking device operates on theories of mathematical probability attributed to Keith Devlin. The title Rana may stem from the similar Rani, meaning 'queen' (but not used for obvious reasons). The Ice Warrior plan is reminiscent (and even less plausible) of the scenario for Space: 1999. Global warming (melting ice caps, rising oceans) and nuclear winter science.

Technobabble: The Ice Warriors' bombs incorporate a detonator consisting of an isotope of lithium set in deuterium tritium, producing neutrino-fed nuclear explosions.

Time is "the fifth dimension"

Goofs: The Ice Warriors' plan to shift Magnus' orbit via nuclear weapons seems pretty ambitious if not fatal to all life on the planet. Why not just use the 'seeds' they had before?

Double Entendres: "I wasn't thinking clearly after that blow"

"Counterthrust... turn... galvanise"

"I want to see inside the world of women before they put me to sleep"

Dialogue Triumphs: "We're not gods - far from it" "-speak for yourself, Peri!"

Dialogue Disasters: "Aren't there men with whom I can deal?"

"Goodbye, Doctor - I'll leave you to the ladies!"

"It's their way. First protests, resistance - it's how women are"

"Fear not, I promise you will enjoy the 'mingling' of the sexes'"

"That boy is on a 'sleep list'!" "-Rana, you are on mine!" (chorus of male laughter)

...Now go and wash your brain.

Continuity: Magnus is roughly Earth-sized and part of a twin planet configuration in a single sun system with seven moons (possibly the inspiration for the seven sisterhoods?). Magnus' sky is blue and the flora includes trees with bright orange blossoms. Largely a temperate, almost tropical planet (Sil finds it hot at least) Magnus has ice caps at either pole. In contrast its orange twin world, Salvak is largely arid and warm - the Salvakian invasion force quickly needs extra clothing to survive the drop in tempreature. The Woltrop bird, known for its squawking and squealing, is native to both Salvak and Magnus.

The Magnusians and Salvakians are a disparate population, the descendants of human colonists from 'Third Earth'. Following the colony's establishment a local solar activated and hormonally-triggered virus attacked the male population, first blinding then killing them outright before twenty "summers". This forced them underground and leading to the colony's female population assuming roles of power. With the apparent 'balance' having shifted Magnus became a gynocracy, culling males via a 'sleep list' over the age of twenty - although a few men are retained underground for a breeding programme. On Salvak a population of male refugees grew and the 'amazons' of Magnus have almost become the stuff of legend, its population consisting largely of male refugees, although Ishkar mentions a woman from his party, Sirah, who was likely one of a smaller female population on Salvak. On both Salvak and Magnus are the stories of the Revelations', which apparently tell of a time when the two sexes will be reunited as one.

The ruling class on Magnus are the Seven Sisterhoods, ruled themselves by Rana Zandusia ('Rana' being a title rather than a name in its own right) who has a palace near the Bassan mountains [it is not clear whether this is the summer palace she sees in the future, or a separate dwelling] near the north pole - Magnus' cities are largely in the southern hemisphere. The Sisterhood enjoy sophisticated technology, maintained by 'science sisters' and 'osmosynthesis mediums' skilled in a form of heightened psychic ability enabling them to enter the mind of another and read their thoughts [it is possible that these powers are an aspect of Magnus itself, as the adult males show no traits therein, but the boy Magnii engage in 'mind music', a resonance of psychic projections]. Other sisters have a special ring on their third finger which enables them to direct psychic energy against another individual which can "sting, stun, freeze or kill". They also carry charged electric 'force sticks'. The Sisters are aware of Gallifrey and have appealed to the High Council to request a time adjustment to prevent a suspected invasion from Salvak. They worship a female God

Sil is now working for his former business rivals, Amorb (see: Links), whose motto is "we buy anything, anywhere". Disgraced by the failure of the Varos Project, Sil's lord and leader Kiv, to whom he was once advisor, has ordered him to redeem himself (or earn his "credit" as Sil puts it) with a new enterprise. In this respect he has allied himself with the Ice Warriors to later exploit Magnus' change of climate selling "winter woolies" and heating equipment to the population. He describes Anzor's TARDIS [apparently this is the first time he has seen it in this form] as "twisted like a giant Quirkus" (A plant from Thoros Beta?) and the Doctor "as tricky as a four-armed Folian monkey". He has no spacefaring vessel to speak of, but does not seem to consider himself stranded at the story's end, indeed planning to go into the maternity wear business - presumably his supply channels are readily accessible.

The invading Ice Warriors operate from a single battle ship with defence shields much battered by war; this is the flagship of a Grand Marshal, an aged Martian with skin like mottled brown paper who remains on board in orbit. It is equipped with sonic cannon which can also send bursts of energy to the planet's surface. The Grand Marshall's subordinate, Vedikael, commands the ground forces and is an Ice Lord by the Doctor's description being smaller, "brighter, quicker, [and] more agile". Ice Warrior armour is impervious to the effects of the Sisters' force sticks; they have constructed their base from the polar ice using 'sonic burners'. The Ice Warriors here intend to alter Magnus' climate by knocking the planet into an orbit further from its sun. The Ice Warriors take other races as their slaves, are not on the intergalactic business registers, and it is heavily implied that the species is at best scattered and close to extinction.

Anzor is the son of a former council leader on Gallifrey and used to torment the Doctor and his classmates while they were at the Prydonian Academy [there is no suggestion here that they were in the same class, and it could be inferred that Anzor may have been to some degree senior to the Doctor]. A dismal scholar (the Doctor says he was the worst navigator the Academy ever produced) he used to make the Doctor do his homework for him, often using his 'galvaniser stick' as an instrument of coercion, and when one of the Doctor's classmates, Cheevor, stood up to him Anzor sealed him in a block of crystal and dropped him into the schoolyard from the top of the Academy bell tower. His Council TARDIS is a Type 60 (it makes a lower, descending roar as it activates), Anzor being an emissary. It takes the appearance of a blasted and gnarled oak tree whilst orbiting Magnus and also on its surface [a deliberate override of the chameleon circuit?]; he also has concealed in his console room a photon blaster which he picked up on Skongros. Anzor met Sil previously on Thoros Beta (see: Links), but appears not to know of Lord Kiv, if Sil's rather expository dialogue is reliable. His appearance is likened by Peri to a Victorian undertaker.

Trans-replicator mode allows one TARDIS to replace another in space. The Type 60 TARDIS has a one-off emergency compulsion mode which can attract another TARDIS to it against the owner's will. The Doctor says the locks of his and Anzor's Council TARDIS are quite different in nature, and Anzor says his has a 'risetic switch' which only recognises the owner - both may have been bluffing. Sil's tampering with the Doctor's TARDIS controls triggers a 'time safety jump', moving the ship an indeterminate period into the future [as the Doctor had previously tried to engage HADS while under Anzor's compulsion attack it may be that this action is a delayed reaction]. Anzor says it is forbidden to allow a non-Time lord into a TARDIS - or possibly he means just a High Council one. The High Council allows time adjustments [localised temporal rearrangement] in cases of extreme emergency.

The Doctor eventually recognises the Grand Marshall's ship or those of its kind (see: Untelevised Adventures) and knows his way around an Ice Warrior sonic burner. He appears to recognise another TARDIS [although he doesn't recognise it as being Anzor's specifically - perhaps being a High Council vessel it has a distinct 'aura'?]

The Doctor says spelling never was his strong [suit?] Anzor's dialogue suggests that he was known as 'Doctor' even in the Academy.

Location: The planet Magnus, some time in the twenty-third century [the novelisation places this in the 'middle' of the century]

Untelevised Adventures: The Doctor seems to know the Grand Marshall by appearance [this cannot be the same individual as in The Seeds of Death as his ship was directed into the sun], and Vedikael seems to know of the Doctor also.

Links: The Trial of a Time Lord, episodes 5 to 8 aka Mindwarp. (Thoros Beta, Kiv, Morgo), Vengeance on Varos (Amorb) The Doctor mentions two of his previous meetings of the Ice Warriors, on Earth (The Seeds of Death or The Ice Warriors) and later Peladon (either of the two televised Peladon stories, or even The Bride of Peladon); The Ice Warriors ("Ice is our friend"), The Krotons (HADS)

The Bottom Line: "You are becoming tiresome, madam!"

Mostly just poor, with the odd truly dreadful bit. Mission to Magnus is offensively chauvinistic, scientifically implausible (for Doctor Who) and a timely reminder against working with nostalgia, old series enemies and child actors. There's no reason to be so slavish to an original script when the quality is this low and people are expected to buy it, likely knowing the novelisation's reputation - even the disc's extras squirm around the obvious sexism. An object lesson to everyone in being careful what you wish for.

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