Hands up anyone who genuinely believed that the end of box set 4 was the end of Counter-Measures even before the announcement of this New Counter-Measures series? No-one? Not surprised, really: the series’ hallmarks have been its circuitous plots and abundant use of red herrings, and I’m pleased to say that John Dorney and Ken Bentley’s scripts for this feature length special continue those traits.
As if to make up for the lack of the character for much of the time – since he’s the corpse of the title! – Hugh Ross’ Toby Kinsella is the focus of the first part of the story, tying up some loose ends from the original series, and getting his hands dirty in a way that he’s apparently been loath to previously. His funeral brings the team back together – there’s some nice extrapolation as to what they’ve been up to during the intervening years – and then they start to look into Toby’s death, hindered by those in authority who don’t know who they are or trust their motives, and helped by an unusual ally from Toby’s past.
The vibe of the series has changed somewhat from the ITC Sixties feel of the first four sets; we’re in the Seventies now (the story is specifically dated and refers to real world events), with that era’s emphasis on paranoia and dirty tricks. It’s when the CIA’s little games with regime change were coming to light, and spies and those involved undercover were gaining a more tarnished reputation…
The action sequences are very well put together by director/writer Ken Bentley and sound designer Robert Harvey, with Nick Briggs’ score shifting gears for the new setting – although I’m waiting for them to get to the late 70s, so we can hear him playing with a Target/Sweeney-esque version. The cast are as consistently strong as ever, with Belinda Stewart-Wilson’s Overton a very intriguing new character who I hope will return.
The special has the definite feeling of a reboot, with various elements put in place for the new series coming later in the year. If it can maintain the standard of this, then the world is in good hands now the Counter Measures Group are back on the case.
Verdict: An excellent fast paced thriller. 9/10