Released January 2011
Big Finish kicks off 2011 with a bit of self-indulgence, employing trusted author Johnathan Morris to bring back not only popular audio companion Evelyn Smythe to rejoin the Sixth Doctor but also recurring Big Finish creations Thomas Brewster and DI Patricia Menzies. With a new gang leader known only as the Doctor operating in contemporary London, Menzies again crosses paths with Colin Baker’s Time Lord, startled to find that his previous adventures with her have not yet occurred in his personal timeline.
It’s refreshing to hear Maggie Stables back alongside Colin Baker, furthering her case to be his definitive companion. The two clearly respect and admire each other, and they share arguably the deepest connection of any TARDIS pairing, both able to confide in each other fully while unafraid to jest and cajole each other as well. Taking Evelyn back to a time before the tragedies of Cassie, her heart, Rossiter, and the Word Lord is a reminder of just how well-written and strong she is even without the incredible turmoil she would come to experience. Here she wishes to remain in ignorance of all o fthe events that have been occurring, the Symbios gaining control of her mind but unable to make her kill the Doctor after she acts the part of a feeble old woman to infiltrate a local gang because of her unassuming appearance. At the same time, Anna Hope also shares a wonderful chemistry with Colin Baker; while it’s a shame she yet again does not take up a companion role in her own right, her trademark quips and quick thinking are fully on display as she makes up excuses to explain the Doctor’s more youthful appearance, explains that she knows the rules of time travel thanks to reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, and even pretends to be a regenerated Doctor traveling with her own companion Norman.
Thomas Brewster is a fascinating character, and one certainly still with a lot of unexplored potential, but his addition to the TARDIS at the end of the story is certainly a controversial one. After much discussion about Brewster’s character and the potential to change after they learn that he has taken up the mantle of the Doctor as a gangster in order to gain the trust of Symbios, Brewster hijacks the TARDIS and threatens the Doctor with a gun to get him to take him home. This after he has somehow threatened reality itself by creating a temporal bridge between Earth and Symbios, a planetary creature in which with different symbiont organisms acting as one. The giant mosquito-like Terrovore creatures that the government eventually explains aware as Japanese toys are equally fascinating and dangerous. Either way, while there’s no doubt that Evelyn and the Sixth Doctor will have a positive influence on him, but his rough and untrustworthy nature will certainly be a source of consternation in future releases.
‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’ also features some of the best direction, sound design, and music of recent Big Finish releases. There is so much frenetic energy with this story as events continue to unfold and to shift to different locations, but it all comes to life superbly. Though featuring a very dramatic moral dilemma at the climax, ‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’ is a vivid and boisterous tale that takes the main range back into a not light-hearted but happier territory after so much heavy drama as the story of Hex and Cassie concluded.