A mere nine years after listening to and enjoying The Crimes of Thomas Brewster I thought it overdue a review. It’s what I call a jigsaw puzzle story – it brings together many threads from across the Big Finish Doctor Who main range and even starts one of its own. It’s also one of those stories I can very specifically remember where I was when I listened to it. More of that later. It’s jam-packed with characters, starting with the Sixth Doctor, Evelyn and Thomas Brewster himself.
The Crimes of Thomas Brewster
The synopsis gives a good handle on this story:
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?
Goodbyes, au revoir and welcome
On paper the design of this story was to begin a trilogy for the Sixth Doctor, Evelyn and Thomas Brewster. Jonathan Morris introduced Thomas Brewster in The Haunting of Thomas Brewster a Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story. The trilogy ends with Industrial Evolution the final story for Thomas Brewster. It’s fair to say Brewster was a difficult to like companion (from the writing, not the performances of John Pickard) and he suffered some fairly poor stories.
What we didn’t know was this would also be the final set of stories released with Maggie Stables as Evelyn. It’s fair (again) to say she was much loved by fans and much missed.
We also didn’t know we wouldn’t hear DI Menzies again until 2019’s Legacy of Time. She is one of my favourite characters and I like how she sits on the cusp between police work and companion. Maybe Yaz could take some tips?
And we really didn’t know that a new character, Flip, played by Lisa Greenwood, would go on to become a companion for the Sixth Doctor, reappearing in The Curse of Davros (aka The Cruise of Davros [in-joke]).
As to the story it starts with a romp across London, a chase on the Thames and is a good mix of villains and science fiction. Most of the characters are strong in this story and some of the scenes involve travelling on the London Underground. In particular the station Great Portland Street is featured. At that time I was working very near to that very station, and was on a tube train approaching it as I listened to Crimes! Spooky!