A peaceful visit to early 21st century London becomes less restful for the Doctor and Evelyn when they find themselves pursued by robotic insects with deadly homing instincts. Help comes from an unlikely ally within the police, D.I. Patricia Menzies, pursuing a criminal investigation well outside her home jurisdiction in Manchester. The Doctor has never met Menzies before, but she knows him well, and keeps silent about their past meetings (which take place in his future). Total strangers or not, though, she does need his help in ending the crminal activities of a mysterious gang operating in London. The Doctor and Evelyn quickly find out that the trail leads to a criminal known as the Doctor – described as a fair-haired young man in Edwardian clothes. Though the sixth Doctor is troubled by the thought that another of his incarnations is acting criminally, he follows the clues until he finds out who the other Doctor is: his unethical former companion, Thomas Brewster. Acting as “the Doctor”, Brewster is trying to restore his ability to time travel, and has done a deal with a species from another world. Naturally, what Brewster has failed to take into account is that he himself has been double-crossed by the aliens, who wish to wipe out the human race and take Earth for themselves.
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Maggie Stables (Dr. Evelyn Smythe), John Pickard (Thomas Brewster), Anna Hope (DI Menzies), David Troughton (Raymond Gallagher), Ashley Kumar (Jared), Lisa Greenwood (Philippa), Duncan Wisbey (Sergeant Bradshaw), Helen Goldwyn (Terravore Queen)
Notes: This adventure definitively places the sixth Doctor’s short string of adventures with Charley Pollard, a shipwrecked former companion of his eighth incarnation, after his travels with Evelyn (and obviously before his travels with Melanie). To familiarize herself with time paradoxes, Menzies has “watched the first ten minutes of The Time Traveler’s Wife“, a movie adaptation of book that many fans believe inspired the tenth and eleventh Doctors’ out-of-chronological-order relationship with River Song in TV Doctor Who.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Take everything you liked about The Condemned, temporal paradox avoidance included, and crank it up a notch: the result is The Crimes Of Thomas Brewster. Though I haven’t always been Brewster’s biggest fan – he’s one audio-only time-traveling companion who Big Finish never seemed quite sure of how to use – his inclusion here makes a weird kind of sense, and is a perfect foil to the usual “multi-Doctor story” setup.
But the truly welcome and overdue companion reunion here is Evelyn Smythe, who has been much-missed from the main range Doctor Who audio stories in recent years. Once considered by many to be the sixth Doctor’s definitive companion, at least on audio, Evelyn went missing in the transition from Gary Russell’s era to the Nick Briggs era as Who’s audio “showrunner”. It seems like it was deemed more interesting and exciting to pair Colin Baker’s Doctor with an out-of-era companion more closely associated with a different Doctor (Charley or Jamie, for example), or to play it safe/traditional and pair him with Peri or Mel. Evelyn’s appearance in a seventh Doctor audio, while welcome, only served to kill the character off (hardly a huge shock to the system, since much of Evelyn’s story has been presented out of chronological order – we’d already heard her departure in Thicker Than Water, for example). It’s nice to hear Evelyn simply traveling with the sixth Doctor once more. Maybe Big Finish considers Evelyn “old hat”, or a holdover from “the Russell administration” dating back to Big Finish’s pre-new-TV-series halcyon days; I didn’t realize, until about ten minute into part one of The Crimes Of Thomas Brewster, how much I’d missed hearing her.
As always, the presence of Menzies – another more-than-welcome reunion – guarantees that sarcasm is going to be be off-the-scale, though her evolving understanding of time travel and avoidance of paradoxes makes her a more intriguing character with each appearance. As much as she exudes “potential companion” from every pore, she’s more fascinating when deployed sparingly; with her position of authority and her ability to open her mind enough to trust the Doctor, Menzies obviously fills a Brigadier-shaped gap in Colin Baker’s era; now the only indignity remaining to be foisted upon her is having to deal with a different Doctor. As long as that inevitable story is as good as The Crimes Of Thomas Brewster, it’s something to look forward to.