Time Reef: His TARDIS returned to him by Thomas Brewster, the Doctor is suspicious of everything, and it seems with good reason, since the TARDIS is missing vital pieces – one of which holds the timeship’s the internal dimensions in place. The Doctor backtracks to the TARDIS’ most recent destination, a “time reef” isolated in a shrinking pocket universe, where two other ships have become marooned. The missing pieces of the TARDIS are easy to find: Brewster had been selling and bartering items such as the TARDIS’ food machine to both ships’ crews. Hawklike predators from another dimension swarm around the stranded ships – including the Doctor’s now-useless TARDIS – and the Doctor isn’t sure he wants Brewster’s help to try to set things right.
A Perfect World: Brewster slyly talks the Doctor into taking him to another time and place that he visitedv during his unauthorized solo trip in the TARDIS: present-day London… only now the city, the world, and the people who inhabit it are vastly improved. Aside, of course, from the one person Brewster hoped to see again.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), John Pickard (Thomas Brewster), Nicholas Farrell (Gammades / Phil), Beth Chalmers (Vuyoki / Taz), Sean Biggerstaff (The Ruhk), Sean Connolly (Lucor / Trev), Rebecca Callard (Connie)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: As quickly as he appeared, Thomas Brewster is gone again. Another three-parter with a stand-alone one-part story tacked on, Time Reef and A Perfect World leave me asking one question at the end: what was the point of Thomas Brewster?
Time Reef is an unrelentingly weird piece of science fiction; if you’re not ready to get into that story’s uniquely twisted internal logic, it may prove to be a lost cause. In some respects, it actually approximates the feel of ’80s Doctor Who very well – it reminds me of Terminus as much as anything. A Perfect World is a nice, uncomplicated character piece with a SF plot twist that’s strange even by Doctor Who standards – it’s almost more like Douglas Adams than Davison-era Who. It gives Brewster a happy ending and leaves the Doctor and Nyssa alone for the next cycle of fifth Doctor stories, but that brings us back to the big question.
What was the point of the Thomas Brewster “cycle”? After an introductory story that was built around introducing the character as a new companion (The Haunting Of Thomas Brewster), we were treated to a story that dealt with fallout from Brewster’s hijacking of the TARDIS without actually featuring the character until the very end (The Boy That Time Forgot), and those two tales were chased down with Time Reef (dealing more directly with Brewster’s TARDIS travels) and A Perfect World (which gets rid of Brewster). Thomas Pickard does a good job with the role, and it’s interesting to have a character out of Earth’s history, but overall, this has to go down as the worst companion rollout since… well… Kamelion. Big Finish’s audio-only companions have become beloved characters – Charley, Evelyn, Hex, Lucie Miller – but the Brewster cycle really seems like wasted time in the end. The character wasn’t even present for part of that story arc. The idea of a TARDIS traveler who quickly decides time travel isn’t for him is a worthy thing to explore, but by the time Brewster’s gone, that really isn’t what’s been explored. It’s a story arc whose central character the audience barely gets to know.
What’s sad is that Brewster was an interesting character whose actor seemed to “get” what was required of the part. He just needed more time to settle in for his exit to really matter.