Justin Richards’ standalone tale for the team plays nicely to their strengths, with Alison chatting to locals to get information, Rachel putting her faith in science (and having a hard time struggling when science refuses to play ball), and Gilmore handling the military side of things. There’s a certain amount of reference to the return of Sir Toby after Templeton’s reign of terror, but the problems of the day are given more priority.
There’s a lovely Nigel Kneale vibe to this story, not just in the obvious links to his 1972 play or one of the Quatermass serials, but also in the way that Kneale used ordinary people to demonstrate what’s happening (if you’ve got access to it, watch or read the script of the opening episode of The Quatermass Experiment to see what I mean). Richards and director Ken Bentley use sound well in this – one of the clues to what’s going on is linked to a specific noise, which is never foregrounded beyond what those involved in the situation would hear, but just nags at your brain as you’re listening.
I do find there’s a certain irony in Big Finish releasing this and the second Avengers box set in the same month – the latter series which is known for its outlandish explanations for events is dealing with far more down to earth problems than the Counter-Measures team are facing. The new theme also works well: in a number of these 60s shows, the theme modified over the years (UNCLE, Avengers, The Saint, to name just a few), and I hope we’ll get an ever-evolving musical soundtrack.
Verdict: A good blend of ghost, detective and science-fiction stories. 8/10