Revisiting old Who monsters can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. A lot of the time the story can end up just being a tired retread of what had gone before or- arguably worse- is a missed opportunity that ends up wasting the effort.
The best thing to do, of course, is to not use them at all… unless the writer can think of something new to do with them. Thankfully, this is the case in this latest Big Finish Sixth Doctor adventure, and as you can work out using your considerable detective skills, this features the return of the Axons!
An Axon yesterday
Following on from the end of the previous Sixth Doctor tale The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, this story could rightly be subtitled The Temptation of Thomas Brewster, as the character gets some meaty stuff to do throughout the tale.
And as with the best of the Big Finish range, this one keeps the listener guessing, as plot points that are set up early play out in unexpected ways. One of the many cool scenes and ideas here comes in the cliffhanger at the end of episode three. It is simply a brilliant piece of writing. It leaves the listener genuinely wondering how the character is going to survive (indeed, I honestly thought that they were a goner), but the resolution of it in episode four is ingenious. Ingenious because it not only a clever idea, but also because it is something that had been mentioned a number of times in previous episodes, and so I really should have worked it out- all the clues were there, dammit!
As good as John Pickard is as Thomas Brewster- and as good as the rest of the cast are- this is really (more so than other adventures) the Colin Baker show. He gets to do something a bit different here- and does it brilliantly. I’ll probably repeat this again many times, but it is a delight to hear him as the Doctor- a role he so obviously loves and the relish with which he plays it is almost palpable.