Colin Baker’s typically cantankerous Sixth Doctor is called to London by the Metropolitan Police in order to investigate a gangster who’s only known as “The Doctor”. Who is this imposter? Or is he even an imposter at all, or maybe an earlier (or later?) version of the current incarnation? The story enters a slightly similar sphere to the TV Christmas Special The Next Doctor at this point, but it gets resolved in a similar(ish) way, and the ‘fake’ Doctor isn’t a patch on the wonderful David Morrissey’s version.
Both before and after the revelation of the imposter, Colin maintains his usual wonderful standards. Despite the actor being plagued by a generally disappointing run of TV stories, his Doctor remains an absolute favourite of mine. More bumptious than Tom Baker, more grumpy than William Hartnell, possibly even more alien than Matt Smith, but with the soul of a hero and the heart of someone you know really would put themselves in the line of fire for you. It’s not just a blessing for Colin’s own reputation that he now has over ten years of Big Finish plays under his belt, but it’s a blessing for anyone with a love of wonderfully big acting.
Of course, Colin’s Doctor is never quite as cantankerous when he’s teamed with Evelyn Smythe, as opposed to when he’s with Peri or Mel, and that’s simply because she really is more than a match for him. For those who don’t know, she’s an elderly and somewhat eccentric British history professor whose intellect and stubbornness easily rivals that of the Doctor and makes her an absolute gem of a companion.
Outside the main characters, the plot is quite complicated and more than a little back referencing in the way that Big Finish can sometimes, frustratingly, be.
The impostor Doctor is collecting weapons for an unknown purpose and there’s a DI Menzies, who’s been a Big Finish companion earlier in her own timeline, but not that of the Doctor’s, and so she pretends not to know him. This seems to be back referencing the character of River Song here, rather than Big Finish, and then it all goes one step further and then references Time Traveller’s Wife, which, to my mind, was the thing that probably influenced the development of the River Song character in the first place!
Suffice to say, with the requirement for a fair bit of past knowledge of Big Finish, if you’re not a regular listener, you probably are going to need to refer to Wikipedia at some point in your listening, in order to keep up with what’s going on.
We’ve also got some new aliens, the Terravores, in this one. They’re giant robot mosquitoes, and they’re quite well realised (as is a speed boat chase!). Of course, the Terravores have met the Doctor before, but again, he’s not yet met them.
After largely solving the mystery in London, the action then shifts to the Terravorian planet ,which is where things get a little less enjoyable. Personally, I much prefer something set on a recognisable Earth than something set on a vague alien planet, but you may feel differently. Either way, this gives the episode a feel of being two stories grafted onto each other, and as such, doesn’t hugely satisfy, even despite the wonderful pairing of the Doctor and Evelyn.The Crimes of Thomas Brewster is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.