Review: Counter-Measures Series 1

Big Finish, who make the Doctor Who audio adventures and a number of spin-off series, have reunited Remembrance of the Daleks’s team of actors Simon Williams, Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill, thrown in a smattering of new regulars and created four dramas involving strange happenings in 1960s London.

Editor’s Rating
Rating

Way back in October 1988, the BBC gave me the coolest 18th birthday present: a four-part Doctor Who serial from Sylvester McCoy’s era that was really rather good. Remembrance of the Daleks kicked off the TV series’ 25th anniversary celebrations with a story that brought the Doctor back to Earth in November 1963, and the area around Coal Hill School – the setting for the very first episode. It also featured Daleks, Michael Sheard (at the time most famous for playing villainous deputy head Mr Bronson in Grange Hill) as a very different type of teacher – and a group of scientists who were working with the armed forces in the Intelligence Counter-Measures Group.

Now that same group has been revived on audio. Big Finish, who make the Doctor Who audio adventures and a number of spin-off series, have reunited Remembrance’s team of actors Simon Williams, Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill, thrown in a smattering of new regulars and created four dramas involving strange happenings in 1960s London.

The result? Imagine a radio version of Quatermass, if it had been made by 1960s cult purveyors ITC Entertainment

Continue reading “Review: Counter-Measures Series 1”

Review: Counter-Measures Series 14Scott Matthewman2012-07-15 22:51:36Big Finish, who make the Doctor Who audio adventures and a number of spin-off series, have reunited Remembrance of the Daleks’s team of actors Simon Williams, Pamela Salem and Karen Gledhill, thrown in a smattering of new regulars and created four dramas involving strange happenings in 1960s London.

A Rude Awakening, New End Theatre

An allegorical fantasy set in a far future where homosexuality has become the norm and straight people are barely tolerated as genetic freaks, what A Rude Awakening loses in subtlety it gains in some good performances and one or two killer one-liners.

Jonathan Woodward leads an able cast as the homophobic politician who, upon being revived in the far future, finds himself ostracised because of his heterosexuality. It is through his conviction that the early scenes, set in the present day, escape being regarded as a crudely drawn depiction of US politics in which even a gubernatorial candidate describes their part of America as “the South”.

The production is somewhat thrown off-kilter by video inserts which are by turns either preposterously surreal or hilariously comic. Sarah Wolff’s performance in the news parodies are especially noteworthy, but they sit oddly with the otherwise dramatic tone of the live performances.

Ultimately, though, Barry Peters’ first play is hamstrung by a lack of clarity of the satirical message he is attempting to convey. Rather than questioning modern-day prejudices, or even suggesting that a majority’s dominance over a minority is in itself the catalyst for bigotry, the impression the play leaves behind is that, whatever the century, you just can’t trust a politician.

* Reviewed for The Stage

Author:
: Barry Peters

Management:
: New End Theatre

Cast:
: Genevieve Adam, Chris Barley, Sean Browne, Morgan Deare, James Le Feuvre, Lucy Newman-Williams, Sarah Wolff, Jonathan Woodward

Director:
: Olivia Rowe

Sunshine and Moon

Over the weekend, I saw two British science fiction films for the first time: Sunshine, directed by (the now Oscar-winning) Danny Boyle and Moon, directed by Duncan Jones.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to see Sunshine. It’s been out on DVD for ever: my copy was bought a while ago on impulse in one of those 3-for-2 deals from HMV or somesuch, and has lain in the original cellophane ever since.

That’s changed now, of course. And in a way it was the ideal weekend to watch it, as it provides a great counterpoint to Moon, which by some miracle actually made it to my local multiplex this week.

Both films wear their visual inspirations on their sleeves – Sunshine’s Icarus II has many echoes of Alien’s Nostromo, while Moon takes obvious cues from the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But, as with the best SF, it’s the human interactions that make the pieces work, and in both films the themes are simultaneously huge and intimate, both contemporary and eternal.

Sunshine asks us to consider the boundaries between the science of physics and the faith of spirituality as somewhat more blurred than we usually accept. For Moon, it’s a consideration of what makes us the person we are. I really don’t want to go into too much detail on either, as you really do need to go into both films without any forewarning of what’s to come.

Of the two, though, I think I prefer Moon. Sunshine, for me, veers from a claustrophobic character study to a more traditional action film — albeit one with a remarkable camera effect that emphasises the philosophical aspect of the film — while Moon retains its sense of creeping unease throughout, building the tension until the very end. Sam Rockwell gives the sort of performance that, if it were in a non-genre based drama, would be a shoo-in for awards.

Both films have faults — including liberal artistic licence with the laws of physics — but as examples of thought-provoking SF, they’re right up there.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIexG8179K8

Tron 2.0, aka Tr2n, is now Tron Legacy

If I was the sort of person who went to conventions, I think Comic-Con San Diego would be the one I would most like to go to. Somehow, over the last few years, it has become a major means of marketing all sorts of genre productions in TV and film to the fans.

Anyway, while I’ve been stuck in London, this year’s convention has been covering all sorts of things, from BBC shows being plugged (**Being Human**, **Doctor Who** and **Torchwood** – yup, Ianto’s still dead and staying that way) to sneak previews of the latest films.

Trocker and videoblogger [charlieissocoollike](http://www.youtube.com/user/charlieissocoollike) got a press pass for this year’s convention from Disney, and has filed a report in his usual ebullient style:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIussgh00j8

Like him, I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of the Tron sequel — now, apparently, called **Tron Legacy**. Unlike him, I was actually born when the first film came out in 1982 — indeed, I had devoured the novelisation well before I got to see the film. Combined with a set of stills inserted into Brian Daley’s book and the occasional glimpses of footage in **Disney Time**, the version of Tron in my head is the one I still think of being as the original – the movie itself ending up as a big-screen facsimile.

What with computer graphics improving so much over the last 27 years, there’s every chance that Tron Legacy will be closer to that original version in my head. Here’s the footage shown at Comic-con: kind of a teaser trailer, if you will. I _cannot_ wait.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKT88pzgRwQ