This is the fourth of the Missing Adventures (and first published in 1994), telling tales of earlier Doctor Who incarnations and their companions in stories that fit into gaps in the original tv series. This story features the Fifth Doctor, travelling with Tegan, Turlough and Kamelion. The story takes place between The King’s Demons and The Five Doctors.
There are some good aspects to this book, and some not so good. Firstly, the idea of a restaurant where the patrons can travel to other times and places to enjoy their authentic meal is a very clever one. Quite why it’s called after Alexander the Great’s favourite horse is a question which didn’t ever seem to be satisfactorily answered, apart from the fact it allowed for the motif of a very large crystal statue of a horse to be the focal point of said restaurant. Having the restaurant run by a Maitre D’ who rules the restaurant like his own mini-kingdom is a good idea, as is the idea of the behind-the-scenes scientific machinations required to run the restaurant. The semi-religious type of theme which runs through the book is also well thought out.
The story begins with a death of one of the patrons at a restaurant. The guilty party appear to be those in the Benefactor’s Cubiculo; but those who appear from the cubiculo are the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. And they couldn’t be guilty of murder – could they? It soon transpires that the Doctor has a nearer relationship with the restaurant than might have been thought, and when Tegan and Turlough are both separated from the Doctor and each other, there’s plenty of room for racing along corridoors and shouting helplessly. And that’s where it all started to go a bit wrong for me.
The first part of the story niggled at me until I clarified, following a bit of research, why that was. It seemed to me that the Doctor was not personified well as the Fifth Doctor. It seems that the first draft of the book was originally meant for the New Adventures range (50,000 words of this version were written) – and that would explain to me why it felt more like the Seventh Doctor – all mysterious, darkly brooding, manipulative – not at all like the Fifth Doctor.
There were new characters and motifs introduced willy nilly all the way through the first half or so of the book – it all became rather confusing, and unnecessarily complicated for a story where it seemed that every page had someone or something new introduced. Given that all three of the main protagonists (and the fourth, if you count Kamelion) were all in different places (and often in different times), trying to keep up with what was going on where to who and why became rather baffling.
The second half of the book goes a long way to redeeming the overall experience for me. It tied the action and the narrative threads together, brought the characters back to the fore, and the Doctor seemed more like the Fifth Doctor. Tegan and Turlough were, throughout the book, well characterised, and I can’t really fault their inclusion in the story. Kamelion bobs up part way through, serves a few odd narrative threads and really doesn’t add much at all. He may as well have stayed in his quarters in the Tardis for all the good he did to anybody.
Overall, good – not great, but not really bad by the end of the book. Different, full of Doctor Who references, and immersed in Doctor Who culture – but unnecessarily complicated, fragmented and not clearly characterised for the Doctor himself.
Craig Hinton's Missing Adventure featuring Peter Davison's Fifth incarnation of the nomadic Timelord is frankly pretty dull. The titular restaurant allows any diner to choose any restaurant from history to dine in, and the space/time Bucephalus machine will make it happen. The Doctor, his motor-mouthed Australian companion Tegan, and his other companion Turlough, are suddenly transported to the restaurant, only to discover that The Doctor is actually its owner! Rubbish robotic TV companion Kamelion (who adorns the front cover) also features, and has more involvement in it than he did in his entire televisual career. Anyway, the premise is intriguing but the final result is a bit flat. Hinton's writing style is an acquired taste and his constant references to Doctor Who and other Sci-fi trivia can become a bit gratuitous at times. Worth a read, but don't expect to be bowled over.