Big Finish productions finish off an outstanding year of releases with another enjoyable romp through one of their more established Doctor Who spin-offs. Utilising characters that first appeared in the classic era episode Remembrance Of The Daleks, the Big Finish team have created a world of seventies London that adds a twist of The Avengers with the mystery of The Prisoner.
For the uninitiated, the Counter Measures team investigates the unexplained using a combination of military might and scientific brains. In this series we find them investigating a scientist who is experimenting with cloning, a ship designed to control the minds of humanity, a power battle between two megalomaniacs and, finally, a threat from a foe who doesn’t exist in our reality.
Reprising their roles from the original Doctor Who TV serial are Simon Williams as Group Captain Gilmore, Pamela Salem as Rachel Jensen, and Karen Gledhill as Allison Williams. All three slip back into their roles with consummate ease and always sound engaged and connected to the excellent scripts provided. Williams, whilst sounding a little older and rougher than his TV self, brings charm and gruff to his role. Both Salem and Gledhill bring a great deal of life to what could otherwise be bland characters. All three actors are as adept at playing the roles seriously whilst adding in some much needed humour throughout the lengthy episodes.
Heading the team is Hugh Ross as the John Peel-esque Sir Toby Kinsella – an addition to the range since its inception. There is a wonderful British upper class vibe to his performance that keeps the whole production grounded.
In this series they are well supported by an outstanding range of guest cast including Dan Starkey (Doctor Henry Cording), Carolyn Seymour (Lady Suzanne Clare), Laurence Kennedy (Sir Angus Frazer), and Lisa Diveney (Doctor Norma Vine) who all attack their respective roles with relish and believability.
The four stories are not linked but the highlight for many will be the reappearance of the Great Intelligence – most recently played by Richard E Grant during the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who. Long term fans of the show will also remember its appearances during the Patrick Troughton era and this is where the story takes it cue from, bringing back the character of Professor Travers (played by Tim Bentinck who also voices the Intelligence) and playing as a direct sequel to the stories from that era (complete with Yeti and control spheres).
The remaining three stories are well-written and require no knowledge of Doctor Who to enjoy them. Ken Bentley directs the plays with his consummate skill and Nicholas Briggs provides the suitably atmospheric music. The sound design by Joe Meiners helps keep the listener in the world of the characters.
The episodes run approximately one hour each and there is a bonus disc of interviews with the cast and crew that highlight the camaraderie of the cast and the immense fun they have recording these.
For fans of Doctor Who, this set will be a curiosity, albeit an enjoyable one. For non-fans of Who, this is a lovely way to experience the great work of Big Finish without needing a lot of back story.
Reviewed by Rodney Hrvatin
Rating out of 10: 8
Released by: Big Finish Productions
Release date: December 2017
RRP: $53 (CD), $25 (Download)