They appeared for the anniversary in The Assassination Games but are now back where they belong in their own boxset. We learned a lot of secrets before but many remain.
As ever things are mixed for the team with Sir Toby’s very future in doubt…
There are some spoilers so you may wish to read this after you have listened.
The product page is here for those that want specifics.
Matt Fitton kicks off with Changing of the Guard. This story gives the continuity back though rather than dwelling on Sir Toby’s (Hugh Ross) trial focusses just on the summary moments and times when the rest of the team give their testimony.
The trial is not the main focus; instead we see Templeton’s (Philip Pope) attempts to bend Counter Measures to his own vision. In the foreground the action takes us into the London underworld and a criminal who has access to alien technology. Allison Williams (Karen Gledhill) has a lot of the action pushing Rachel Jensen to the back. The criminal gets dealt with, Sir Toby is vindicated and Templeton goes off tail between his legs. Everything is back where it should be – or so it seems!
Justin Richards gives us the second story, The Concrete Cage. A rock solid 1960s story line of tower block development is nicely mixed with a ghost story, spirits of World War II and a deeper mystery. I was reminded of Nigel Kneale’s The Stone Tapes in terms of the ghost memories apparently being played back from the building itself.
The story balances the team’s contribution and Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem) is excellent as the sceptical scientist confronted with the supernatural. The story is populated with both a great setting and intriguing characters and picks up the pace of the set nicely.
Ken Bentley adds to his role as director with his Big Finish début, The Forgotten Village. Te set-up device is blunt: Allison’s father happens to live in a village that finds itself plagued by strange happenings. Ignoring this artifice we learn a lot about Allison’s past, including her relationship with her father and a past love. Love is in the air: Rachel and Gp Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams) almost move beyond friend but not quite.
The plot move to encompass a Russian satellite on-board which is a sinister mind-control device. We have plenty of action, spies and a dramatic ending in which Allison ends up brain-damaged and near death. Rachel blames Sir Toby in a well-written contrast to relations at the end of Changing of the Guard. She also falls out with Gilmore.
John Dorney wraps things up (or does he?!) with Unto The Breach. Allison has no short or long-term memory and may never recover. Rachel on continues with the team as Sir Toby, Gilmore and she travel to Berlin. The Soviet’s have an alien!
I think John Dorney brings a lot to table here as he gently pokes fun at the idea of aliens only every landing in England. The story travels to East Berlin via spies and the aforementioned alien. In England Templeton has a new technique used on Allison which seems to cure her with the use of electrodes though also brainwashes her. The idea of brainwashing continues with Pamela herself also being conditioned then released to return home. There is a lot more but that would mean too many spoilers.
The whole concept seems to have been freshened up with new theme tune and more incidental music. This may be a spill-over from the Avengers production; regardless it makes the whole series feel punchier and better in some essential way.
The writing is well-integrated with plenty to look back on once the end is reached. The best of the three series so far and for fans who subscribed from the first series a demonstration to anyone as to how good this idea is.
[pullquote] subtle yet more rewarding[/pullquote]
Counter Measures is more subtle yet more rewarding in some ways than other spin-offs. Big Finish is releasing these slowly. Series 4 has been announced. This may be the release that convinces the powers that be to move to twice-yearly release. I do hope so!