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The Magnus Protocol review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating – 3 brains

When I first started this blog back in December 2021, I decided my first review should be something worthy. It wasn’t much of a stretch to pick one of my all time favourite shows. Indeed, it was a favourite of a great many people, and it soon garnered a huge following and was showered with accolades. That show, of course, was The Magnus Archives.

When it ended, it was a great shame. It was the end of a huge journey, and I (and the general podcast listening population) hoped there would be more. Towards the end of 2023, teasers appeared, and as the release date approached I found myself getting all giddy.

So what’s it about?

This is set in the present day, apparently 25 or so years on from the end of The Magnus Archives (something I didn’t realise until a throwaway line in an early episode of this series). I just thought that they deliberately did things there in an archaic manner, they made a big point about “modern machines not working in the building”. Oh well, that was a nice surprise, but here we are in the modern day.

This series is set in a faceless government building, staffed by oddballs and nerds. Just like pretty much any faceless government building across the country. This building, housing the Office for Incident Assessment and Response (OIAR for short) is responsible for discovering strange stories from numerous sources. Including, as it turns out, people’s private emails. From there they are cross referenced, catalogued, and passed on.

The whole operation is reliant on an ancient PC, running some proprietary software coded by god knows who, and its idiosyncrasies are the cause of anger and frustration on a regular basis. As someone who’s workplace still runs Windows XP on most computers, I can relate to this.

Is it any good?

I’m almost biting my tongue as I say this…

No. It isn’t very good (so far). Well, actually as I’m writing this, I just finished episode 5. The whole cast of characters is new (despite a familiar surname appearing), and they all have their own unique, if slightly irritating, personalities. For the most part, the voice acting is great, but there are a few occasions where the standard drops. Maybe they got Patreon backers in the show as a stretch goal, I don’t know. It does detract somewhat from the otherwise excellent talent.

This is like when Disney or Netflix buy a well known, classic franchise and “make it relatable to young people”. That’s the feeling I get anyway. It has elements of the original, but just seems lacking some of the class of the original.

For fans of the original run, the dynamic duo of Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall return as computerised voices in the ancient database. I’m not sure whether this is just as a nostalgic nod to the past, or whether there is something of a plot point that will appear later (knowing how the original show was planned out, this wouldn’t surprise me).

Episode 5 is also the best one so far, and the one that seems most “classically” TMA. So maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself by scoring it so low. TMA did come out swinging though, episode 1 was a classic. Rest assured though, if this turns out to be a belter, then I will be only too happy to admit I was wrong and duly re-review the show (as I did with Disgraceland). I will, of course, be listening to the whole lot. I really hope I have to eat some humble pie with this one.

Final thoughts

I wonder if this was my introduction to the Magnus universe, whether I would hold it in such high esteem as I do having listened to the original show first. I play a similar thought game occasionally with bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden. Their recent work is so poor compared to the classic albums that I wonder if I’d still love them having only been introduced to the newer stuff. Whatever, this is me rambling over my morning coffee.

The Magnus Archives was such a genre defining show that there was a slew of similarly titled and themed podcasts springing up almost weekly when it was at its height. Most couldn’t hold a candle to it. Maybe it was a lightning in a bottle moment. This show is only 5 episodes old, so maybe things will improve. I sincerely hope so…

You can get The Magnus Protocol here:

https://pod.link/1095138637

If you want to discover many more great podcasts, then I recommend GreatPods

One Comment

  1. I think it’s quite early to be sure if The Magnus Protocol can live up to our expectations, but if you forget everything you know about TMA, this podcast will for sure have you in a chokehold. I think Jonny and Alex have something planned to turn our perspectives upside-down and I can’t wait to see (actually hear) it.

    Also, from what I’ve understood from Twitter, the next episode is one of the teams favourites, so stay tuned for that. Who knows? Maybe one episode can change everything (I write this as I sourly remember the dread I felt when listening to MAG160).

    Thank you for your dutiful and honest review!

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