on 8 July 2008
As a big fan of Marc Platt's two previous Doctor Who stories - Ghost Light for the BBC `classic' series, and to a lesser degree the New Adventures' Lungbarrow - I had high expectations of this Missing Adventures story. Sadly I didn't feel it lived up to my hopes; instead coming across as a somewhat turgid tale that hardly even features The Doctor but instead focuses on two of his erstwhile companions: Sarah Jane Smith and Victoria Waterfield. Downtime is based on one of Platt's own video creations, originally designed to fill the gap left by the 1989 cancellation of the classic TV series and as such seems oddly plotted and disjointed in places. The plot follows loosely on from the two Patrick Troughton era Yeti stories, and re-introduces The Great Intelligence, to once more attempt to dominate Earth. Victoria has remained on Earth and is a woman out of time - 100 years out in fact. Sarah-Jane on the other hand has returned to her investigative journalist roots following The Fourth Doctor's sudden return to Gallifrey. Victoria is having strange dreams and premonitions, whilst UNIT's own Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is also being targeted, as his organization investigates the re-emergence of The Yeti.
The first section of the novel concentrates on Victoria, who is seeing visions of her dead father resulting in her believing that she is going mad. However, this is also The Brig's part of the book as the old soldier discovers he has a Grandson as well as having to deal with The Intelligence worming its way back through Victoria and her adoptive family - the cultish `New World University'.
Giving The Doctor's companions centre stage is admirable but unlike the Big Finish Companion Chronicles the story seems lifeless and dull without our eponymous hero. Sarah-Jane is largely peripheral to the story and only seems to have been included for nostalgic purposes. The whole thing ultimately feels rushed and ill thought-out; Downtime is definitely one for completists (like me!) only.