That’s right, just three stories later (in the audio / comic companions debut story marathon) and we’re back with a story ending in “of Thomas Brewster”. This is also the first of three stories in this list that the companion debuting doesn’t actually become a travelling companion until later, as yes, this is the debut of the frequently annoying Flip… It’s actually funny listening to it, how clear that the story wasn’t written with the character becoming a permanent fixture in mind. With all that being said, let’s take a look at “The Crimes of Thomas Brewster”…
Sent down south to assist the Metropolitan Police in their efforts to investigate the gangland kingpin known only as ‘the Doctor’, Detective-Inspector Patricia Menzies finds herself up to her neck in laser-armed robot mosquitoes, gun-running criminal overlords, vanishing Tube trains… and not one, but two Doctors.
Meanwhile, the real Doctor and his academic assistant Professor Evelyn Smythe have become ensnared in the machinations of an old acquaintance – time-travelling Victorian guttersnipe Thomas Brewster. But what’s Brewster’s connection to the rapacious robot Terravores? And can anyone contain the gathering swarm?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The Doctor and Evelyn are once again visiting the Tower of London, this time in Evelyn’s future. Also this time, for a bit of a change, they’re being attacked by a giant laser-shooting robot mosquitoes.
Evelyn Smythe (Maggie Staples) – Evelyn doesn’t have much of a chance to see the London of ten years into her future, as she’s dodging laser fire from giant alien mosquitoes, as so frequently happens to us all.
Thomas Brewster (John Pickard) – Brewster requested to be left in 2008 in order to be with a lovely woman he’d met… sadly two years later and she has ended up in a coma, and he’s messing around with technology he doesn’t understand again…
DI Menzies (Anna Hope) – DI Menzies has met the sixth incarnation of the Doctor twice before, but from his perspective these incidents haven’t happened yet, making all of this rather awkward… oh and the robotic alien mosquitoes don’t help either!
The Terravores (Helen Goldwyn and others) – The Terravores are robot-like insects lead as a gestalt entity by their queen. They seek Earth as a new source of valuable materials for themselves.
The Locus – The Locus is the living consciousness of the planet Symbios. It merely wishes to live its life in peace and perfect harmony with the many species on its surface.
Raymond Gallagher (David Troughton) – A London gangster and smuggler, Gallagher has no problem killing those who get in the way, so long as the crime can’t be traced back to him…
Flip Jackson (Lisa Greenwood) – A regular Londoner looking forward to attending a friend’s party… She may be a bit late for that…
Jared (Ashley Kumar) – Jared is Flip’s boyfriend and a bit of an idiot. Actually, a full idiot.
Plus many more!
Good cover, well realised new aliens and everything!
There are some good moments, most of them coming from DI Menzies. How Flip got plucked from this story into a full-time companion but Menzies vanished I’ll never know. Her dry, sarcastic and blunt demeanour combined with her detective skills are great, and she plays off of the Sixth Doctor well. The two are paired for a good majority of the story, and at one point she even pretends to be The Doctor in order to fool Brewster, which leads to some funny scenes. The fact that they’re meeting River Song style and out of order was also a fun twist, though one made out of necessity rather than for any storyline reason. The Doctor admitting to having figured it out at the end and promising to extend the same courtesy when she first meets him in his future was a nice nod that ties everything up.
The plot is a mish-mash of “seen it before”, with a sentient planet wanting help from a frankly generic robo-alien swarm and a train mysteriously being taken to an alien world… These are all wondrous sci-fi things (well, apart from the generic insectiod aliens) but nothing about the play screamed “originality”. I’ll class it as a “middle” rather than good or bad, as it wasn’t a bad version of any of it, but I was never gripped by any of it either.
Thomas Brewster is a lot better here than he was previously. The whole plan of his was actually him trying to help out the sentient planet Symbios like The Doctor would do, it just so happens he nearly dooms the entire Earth to do it. He eventually helps save the day by trusting The Doctor, which is something he rarely does… sadly at the end, rather than asking to be put back in his proper time he tries to force The Doctor to do it at gun point, for some reason…
This was the first Evelyn story in a long time when it was released, which is why it’s such a shame that she does so little during it. In episode 1 she goes “undercover” to unveil the fake Doctor that turns out to be Brewster, but she’s soon whisked away to Sybios and used as a mouthpiece for the planet. It’s really a Sixth Doctor / DI Menzies story featuring Brewster, and Evelyn is just cameoing.
Although its far worse in their reappearance, Flip and Jared are just walking “hey, current social reference, am I right?” characters. Jared, when faced with having to take on deadly alien insects, sounds excited and claims it’s “just like Call of Duty or something!” … Yeah, cool! Call of Duty, I know that! … *sigh*, I mean, as if anyone would say that in that situation! Argh!!
You know what, I think I will put the Terravores here. They’re just insects with robo-modulated voices and the old generic Queen holding them all together. They’re just boring.
Not sure where this came from, it popped up on the google image search I used to short-cut to the Big Finish cover upload. Looks legit, maybe the inside sleeve of the CD cover?
Thomas Brewster was left in London in 2008 by the Fifth Doctor in the audio story “A Perfect World”, where as the make-shift time machine under Great Portland Street tube station comes from his debut story, “The Haunting of Thomas Brewster”.
DI Menzies had met the Sixth Doctor previously in audio stories “The Condemned” and “The Raincloud Man”, both set further down the Doctor’s timeline.
A deactivated Terravore is locked in a UNIT vault, as we find out during the companion chronicle story “Tales from the Vault”. Also The Locus tells The Doctor about a time a future version of the Time Lord saved the planet from the Drahvins, the all-female race from First Doctor TV story “Galaxy 4”.
The Crimes of Thomas Brewster works mainly thanks to the interactions between The Doctor and DI Menzies, but also has some good redeeming scenes for Thomas Brewster as well. Sadly a lot of the story is either generic or just annoying, so I can’t honestly say I’ll listen to it again, but there you go… This is just the tip of the “Flip-berg”, sadly…