The Movellan Manoeuvre

Posted in Audio by - April 24, 2020
The Movellan Manoeuvre

Released April 2020


After well over a year since the last feature-length release in the combined Counter-Measures and The New Counter-Measures franchise, Big Finish’s fascinating look into the continuing adventures of this initial predecessor to UNIT finally returns with a double bill that pits Earth’s finest operatives against first the Movellans and then the Daleks. In John Dorney’s ‘The Movellan Manoeuvre,’ the group once more crosses paths with the glamorous international arms dealer Lady Suzanne Clare, hoping to determine the true intentions they know must be behind her new technology company launching a device designed to help with household chores.

The Movellans, of course, only featured on screen once during Doctor Who’s classic run in 1979’s ‘Destiny of the Daleks,’ meaning that there is still a certain air of mystery around these white-clad, humanoud androids that allows plenty of room for exploration. Intriguingly, ‘The Movellan Manoeuvre’ goes quite a while before introducing its titular threat, in the process allowing plenty of time for Clare to be reintroduced into the fold as the Robo-Helper 2000 seems poised to dominate the market upon its launch. Carolyn Seymour is again pitch perfect in this role and proves to be a perfect foil for the heroes given her long history with alien technology and her wanton disregard for anyone but herself which as a trait is explored exceedingly well as the plot shifts from its initially straightforward trajectory to something all the more intriguing.

Writing androids, and especially ones who are so logical that they can outmatch the Daleks, is never an easy task, but Dorney manages to give this race a certain vivid characterisation that Cyril Nri as the lead Movellan expertly delivers. Conveying power, menace, and intellect in equal measure, Maurice Vallan is certainly a figure to be reckoned with, and he alone proves what a unique and genuine threat the Movellans can be in any circumstance given their underlying cunning and ability to so successfully plan based on facts and reason. Indeed, the manner in which the Counter-Measures team becomes so intimately intertwined in these events is perfectly written, and the combination of Clare’s penchant for capitalizing on alien technology along with the Movellans’ unique abilities bring out the very best in the heroic leads as they attempt to uncover the truth that is so much more dangerous than even they anticipated it could be.

After so many stories together, it should come as no surprise that Simon Williams, Pamela Salem, Karen Gledhill, and Hugh Ross perfectly slip back into their characters with seemingly effortless ease. The interpersonal relationships are as strong as ever as the operatives are thrust into wholly unanticipated situations, and the inclusion of well-timed humour to bolster the incredible dialogue serves to expertly enhance the overall threat at this story’s core. With music, sound design, and direction that perfectly encapsulate this story’s era and the Movellans’ aesthetics, ‘The Movellan Manoeuvre’ manages to take a rarely-seen threat within the Doctor Who universe and successfully transplant it to a period-specific spin-off while providing arguably the Movellans’ greatest showing yet. It’s easy to imagine that the slower stylings of the Counter-Measures universe may not appeal as broadly as many of the other ranges Big Finish has to offer, but hopefully the inclusion of such an intriguing and familiar foe- along with the Doctor’s greatest enemy in the following tale- will prove to many more listeners just how captivating this range can continue to be if given the chance.

  • Release Date: 4/2020
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