Before the 2005 relaunch, playing the “imaginary Doctor Who spin-off” game was a regular pastime for fans, but now Big Finish are doing their best to make those dream projects into reality. Following on from the success of Jago & Litefoot , we now have another series starring a group of memorable Who supporting characters – in this case, the early ‘60s proto-UNIT “Counter-Measures” team that featured in the classic 1988 adventure “Remembrance Of The Daleks”.
Reuniting the original TV actors, this quartet of one-hour adventures plays as if “Remembrance” had been a pilot episode for an all-new show, and sees Group Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams), Professor Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem) and Alison Williams (Karen Gledhill) once again battling mysterious, technological and unearthly threats in mid-‘60s London.
There’s also a hefty dose of political reality, echoing “Remembrance”’s lack of rose-tinted nostalgia, as the Counter Measures group (with help from officious Ministry boss Sir Toby Kinsella, played by Hugh Ross) encounter a series of deadly threats across the four episodes, all of which are linked by a story arc.
First instalment “Threshold” gets things off to an atmospheric and creepy start, as an ex-Nazi scientist’s dabbling with teleportation results in terrifying side-effects. “Artificial Intelligence” sees an advanced computing project going wrong, while “The Pelage Project” puts us firmly in Quatermass territory as the team investigates sinister goings-on at a self-governing industrial town. The main story arc builds to a climax in the gripping “State of Emergency”.
Throughout all the episodes, the three leads effortlessly reprise their roles, as if “Remembrance” had only been recorded yesterday. The scripts capture the correct level of mood and detail, the characters benefit from added depth, and the series maintains an impressively slick and engaging tone.
It’s a little uneven in places – “Threshold” suffers from some garbled and over-abstract sound design, while ‘The Pelage Project’ ends up a little too far-fetched. There’s also a sense that while Counter-Measures pulls off some intriguing concepts, it’s still exploring very over-familiar territory (with echoes of Who , Quatermass , Doomwatch and even Torchwood ), meaning it doesn’t quite have the freshness of Jago & Litefoot . However, this is a very promising start, with enough nostalgic entertainment value to hint that Counter-Measures may have a healthy future ahead of it.
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