Counter Measures: The Hollow King review

So, the Counter Measures range may be coming to an end but with Ian Potter’s The Hollow King it certainly isn’t bowing out with a whimper. Where the previous boxset was (at times) a strange mix of stories, this single disc release is a one rich tale of pagan rites, UFOs, new age gurus and more ideas than an average boxset. It’s to Ian Potter (and script editor John Dorney’s) great credit that I was three-quarters through and box amazed at how rich the story was and sad at how little of it was left to enjoy. I’ll explain…

The Hollow King

First lets’ get the synopsis:

They say lights have been seen in the skies over Swammcombe. They say this is the place to spot flying saucers. Allison Williams is not so convinced. But maybe Allison Williams is wrong. When she witnesses a UFO launch from the top of a hill is it signs of alien activity… or something more sinister?
Counter Measures is looking into Open Band – the disciples of the so-called Swami of Swammcombe, Lord Cavall. They’ve been been monitoring Cavall since noticing a curious rise in psychiatric cases among his followers…
How true are Cavall’s teachings? What happens during the elite ‘Visualisation’ sessions? And what does this all have to do with the King under the hill?

It’s a well-balanced story for Allison (Karen Gledhill) busy undercover at the Open Band camp in Swammcombe, Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem) busy researching the damage caused to some of the Band’s followers, Group Captain Gilmore (Simon Williams) attempting his own undercover explorations and Sir Toby (Hugh Ross) trying to keep across everything that’s going on. Allison is at the heart of this story from the team’s perspective and it makes nice reference to an earlier story as well. Without giving too much away, she gets closer to the truth of the Hollow King than she might have wanted. It’s a well-written, acted and directed (Ken Bentley) strand (as is the rest of the story).

The central figure of the Open Band is Lord Cavall, an excellent rounded character wonderfully performed by Tim Bentinck. He’s a bit villainous, a bit egocentric, a bit greedy and a lot human. As the story unfolds what seems to be a comfortable mystery about a cult, its music and its lifestyle turns in to something much, much darker in an ending that sits on the boundary (if there is one) of horror, fantasy and science fiction. It’s a plot that could easily have filled more than a single adventure and it would be great to find out what Ian Potter had in mind, given the opportunity.

Full marks to Nick Brigg’s who produced the music, and this includes the ambient tracks used by the Open Band. Nick is in fine form and adding a nice psychedelic touch.

It’s the kind of story you can’t enjoy without then regretting the future demise of the range. They will appear in the 2019 Legacy of Time and then (perhaps) that’s it. It’s a shame but a brutal lesson in economics. Perhaps someone will start a bring back Counter Measures campaign!

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