5.4/10
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5 user 2 critic

Downtime (1995)

Retired commander of the United Nations' Intelligence Taskforce, and long-time associate of the mysterious time traveler the Doctor, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart faces the toughest... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
... Sarah Jane Smith
... Victoria Waterfield
Jack Watling ... Professor Travers
Beverley Cressman ... Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
Mark Trotman ... Daniel Hinton
Geoffrey Beevers ... 'Harrods' Haroldson
Peter Silverleaf ... Christopher Rice
... Anthony the D.J.
... Captain Douglas Cavendish
... Lama
Kathy Coulter ... Receptionist
Alexander Landen ... Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
... Chilly 1
Miles Cherry ... Chilly 2
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Storyline

Retired commander of the United Nations' Intelligence Taskforce, and long-time associate of the mysterious time traveler the Doctor, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart faces the toughest battle of his military career when he is embroiled in a plot unwittingly set in motion by university chancellor Victoria Waterfield, herself a former companion of the Doctor, to take over the Earth by an evil alien entity called the Great Intelligence, aided by its ferocious robot Yeti cohorts. Can the Brigadier defeat this menace to the Earth without the Doctor's help? Written by Anonymous

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2 September 1995 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jemma Redgrave assumed the role of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart in Series 7 of Doctor Who (2005). See more »

Quotes

Travers: Tell me, Brigadier, which part of my great plan do you admire the most?
Brigadier: None of it. For a so-called Intelligence it's pretty damned stupid.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Tom Baker's Beyond Belief! (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Muddled, Confused, Fan-boy Excess
26 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

I've had the strong impression over the last 20+ years that "clear" storytelling is a tragically under-rated skill. Take DOWNTIME. I've now seen it twice. It's EVEN WORSE than I remember it! And yet, the other day, I read at least a dozen online reviews of it, and they were all gushing and overflowing with nothing but praise.

Everyone seemed to focus on the cast, the production, the effects, the story... but I don't think one person mentioned the story-TELLING. Basically, it's a muddled, confusing, unintelligible MESS. At first I thought Marc Platt was the guy who wrote DRAGONFIRE and THE CURSE OF FENRIC, 2 instances of throwing in "the kitchen sink" and more. But no, turns out, he's the guy who wrote GHOST LIGHT, which, until recently, was lambasted for being almost completely unintelligible (unless someone watched it multiple times to "get it"). In truth, GHOST LIGHT has grown on me, but then I liked that one from the beginning. This one bothered me no end the first time around. Now, 15 years later, I almost couldn't make it all the way through. There is just TOO damn much "stuff" in this for it to be one story, and none of it gets time to develop properly. It's like I'm not watching scenes, I'm just watching fragments of scenes, fragments of story ideas, all pasted together as if someone assumed the viewer should put it all together in their mind automatically, because the writer couldn't be bothered to do it himself.

What really bugs me the most is that this story features 2 of my favorite DOCTOR WHO characters ever-- The Brigadier, and Sarah Jane (in that order). And it's TERRIBLE! I'm almost done watching every single WHO story in my entire collection, and very, very few of them I'd NEVER want to watch again. I've just added this one to the list. The only time the thing ever seems to "work" is when Lethbridge-Stewart's on screen, and mostly, only in the 2nd half. Sarah Jane is WASTED being here, it feels as if her appearance was tacked on at the last minute, just because someone found out Lis Sladen was available. And Victoria... OH MY GOD, I've heard complaints about characters "not being themselves" in return appearances, but this is one of the most extreme cases. The whole thing with her and her father, and the character who is PLAYED by her real-life father, was just annoying beyond belief. But not nearly as annoying as that GIT who was her sidekick, who looked like some fan-boy who's spent too much time going to sci-fi conventions. (I understand Ian Levine was deeply involved with this... and I'd only recently been reading about his apparent involvement in ANOTHER over-complicated mess of a "story", ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN. Sheesh.)

Two actors who did themselves proud here were John Leeson (terribly under-used), and Geoffrey Beevers (a real highlight of the thing, though I didn't even realize who he was until the end credits came up).

Years later, one of Marc Platt's WHO audio stories formed much of the inspiration for a 2-part David Tennant story. To my mind, there wasn't a single bad episode in the first 3 years of the WHO revival. I would NEVER have connected the alternate-universe Cybermen story with the guy who concocted this mess. The standards of the WHO production team seem MUCH higher, which may explain why Platt hasn't written anything himself for the revived series.

I think what made it worse than it might have been was, unlike the first time I saw it, this time, I watched it almost back-to-back with SHAKEDOWN. Crystal-clear, straightforward storytelling with well-defined characters, the likes of which had not been seen on DOCTOR WHO since Tom Baker starred. Call it what you like, to me, it was a MASTERPIECE.


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