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Counter Measures - A review

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« on: February 18, 2013, 09:23:21 pm »

After real life intervening, I am back doing what I love most - reviewing Smiley Here I review one of the Big Finish Spin Offs...

Remembrance of the Daleks was, by any measure a wonderful piece of Doctor Who. Part of the reason for the triumph of the story was the ensemble nature of the cast. The proto-UNIT set up gave us an echo of Who past while presenting a fresh, interesting set of characters, apparently rich in backstory.


Despite this wonderful set-up, it is still slightly surprising that the Big Finish range decided to exploit this ensemble cast and make a series of adventures chronicling the establishment of the “Counter Measures” group (which, according to Ben Aaronnovich’s novelization of ‘Remembrance’ is the direct predecessor of UNIT). The story uses the military characters from Remembrance, so we get Simon Williams ‘Group Captain Gilmore’, Pamela Salem as ‘Rachel Jansen’ and Karen Gledhill as ‘Alison Williams’. The audio also introduces a sinister civil servant ‘Sir Toby Kinsella’ played by the wonderful Hugh Ross. Anyway, here is the bumf from the good folk at Big Finish...

After the mysterious events at Coal Hill School, the British government has created the Counter-Measures group, a specialist team that investigates strange phenomena and dangerous technology. Their first missions will involve a haunted warehouse, a ground-breaking artificial intelligence, a mysterious new town and a threat to the future of the country...

Four full cast audio dramas plus behind the scenes documentary:

Threshold by Paul Finch - 
A missing scientist and ghostly phenomena bring Gilmore and Allison to a factory in Bermondsey, and the discovery of a science that should not exist. As Rachel Jensen returns to help them, a new future for Counter-Measures is set in motion...



Artificial Intelligence by Matt Fitton - 
Investigating a suicide at the Sen-Gen Facility, the group discovers a new weapon in the Cold War – and Gilmore meets an old flame. Meanwhile Rachel discovers that she can’t trust anyone, not even the sound of her own voice...



The Pelage Project by Ian Potter - 
A case of industrial pollution leads the group to the new industrial town Pelage, and a dangerous meeting with its leader Ken Temple. And deep within the plant it appears that an alien invasion is already underway...
 


State of Emergency by Justin Richards - 
There are creatures from another dimension on the streets, and traitors in the halls of Westminster. When the government is in jeopardy, Rachel, Allison and Gilmore take on a faction staging a very un-British coup..
.
 

This box set is a little expensive, coming in at £30 for a download and it is not without its faults. I listened to this in a darkened room with my headphones on. Yet even in these conditions I found parts of it a little difficult to follow. What I mean is that, in places, things happen (large explosions, screams etc) and then a little while afterwards we get a subsequent explanation. In places this makes the story difficult to follow and does require a certain attenuation on behalf of the listener. This is both a curse and a blessing. Certainly, this audio is not for the casual listener.
Despite this, if you can give it these audio adventures your full attention you will be richly rewarded. This is some seriously good science fiction with the innovative writing matching the razor sharp acting. Williams and Salem are brilliant and Hugh Ross is pitch perfect as a manipulating, menacing Kinsella, whose machinations serve to drive the stories forward. In my opinion (and this will not be a popular view I accept) this is the spin-off that Torchwood should have been. It relies on strong story-lines rather than gimmicky characterizations and yet you are still drawn to the main characters.

A special mention must be given to the production of this series. Whilst the price is a bit steep, you feel like you get every penny of it. The music could come from a late 1960s ATV production and the soundscape is wonderfully sympathetic to the action. So, in spite of the somewhat idiosyncratic production decisions would I recommend this...?

You bet I would! This is intelligent, well thought through Science Fiction that will reward your patience. In particular, the final episode is a wonderful, tense and action packed gem. 
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2013, 03:23:47 pm »

I remember reading about this ages ago and making a pretty much off the bat decision that it wouldn't be for me. It just seemed like a spinoff too far and a bit of a stretch to make it work. Your review is good, but I'm still not sure I am convinced.
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 09:34:29 am »

I managed to come across a copy of this online Evil and gave Threshold a listen. It's not a bad story by any means, and it's not at all what I expected that it would be like. I've not listened to the rest yet and I'm not in a rush, but based on the first part it's not a bad set up by any means.
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