Big Finish: THE NEW COUNTER-MEASURES - THE DALEK GAMBIT Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Matthew Kresal finds himself in the middle of a war between the Daleks and Movellans.

As Q told Captain Picard twenty-five years ago, all good things must end. For the Counter-Measures team, it seemed to come with the explosive finale of their fourth box-set in 2015. Then, just a year later, they made the leap from the 1960s to the 1970s with The New Counter-Measures, spawning two additional box-sets and a one-off story over the next couple of years. Now, time and fate seem to have caught up with them with the release of The Dalek Gambit.

The Dalek Gambit is the back half of an adventure, picking up on where The Movellan Manoeuvre left off. As such, it's probably a wise idea to go and listen to that one first. Roland Moore's script picks up on the action-packed finale of John Dorney's script and runs with it as the Counter-Measures team tries to tie up loose threads and instead finds a whole new threat to life on this pale blue dot of ours. Namely, one that sees them back where they began: facing the Daleks.

Moore's script feels like the team coming full circle with their origin story, the celebrated 1988 TV adventure Remembrance of the Daleks, this time with Hugh Ross' Sir Toby Kinsella in tow. The original trio of Rachel Jensen (Pamela Salem), Group Captain Ian Gilmore (Simon Williams), and Allison Williams (Karen Gledhill) are all present and correct, and early scenes show just how far they've come since events in 1963 Shoreditch. Indeed, there's an at times reflective air to the adventure with the chemistry between Rachel and Ian on full display, and the sense of things that might finally be said between them. The character moments sell the story, reminding fans just why they've been following this team on audio for the better part of a decade now.

Yet, as reflective as bits are, this is fundamentally an action piece, and a thrilling one it is too. From pitch battles between Daleks and Movellans (something fans have only briefly glimpsed on-screen) to gunfights and struggles with Daleks, the story is a reminder of how much Counter-Measures has been a masterclass in how to do action sequences of all kinds on audio. Bringing together actor's performances (which, as Simon Williams alludes to in the extras, can be odd to watch be recorded), sound effects, and music, The Dalek Gambit is no exception, taking characters and listeners alike from one set-piece to the next at a lick of a pace.

Both of those elements, the character moments and action sequences, come together in the closing minutes of the piece. Perhaps echoing the (in)famous first season finale of the BBC's Doomwatch, the final scenes are a tense and emotional ringer that left this listener dumbfounded, standing on a sidewalk during a recent walk around my neighborhood. A tip of the hat is due to Moore and director Ken Bentley for crafting such an effective (and affecting) piece of work as these closing scenes proved to be. If Counter-Measures has to go, then this is a most satisfying conclusion, indeed.

Supposing, of course, this really is the end. For like the Daleks themselves, this wouldn't be the first time that we thought we'd seen (or, rather, heard) the end of this team's adventures. Could there be more in the future? As the Seventh Doctor said in their TV debut:
"Time will tell; it always does."
The New Counter-Measures: The Dalek Gambit is exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until May 31st 2020, and on general sale after this date.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places. 

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