Published on February 9th, 2014 | by Meredith Burdett
Reviewed – 1963: The Assassination Games
The Group Captain and his friend first appeared in 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks and helped the Seventh Doctor fend off a whole bunch of Daleks in 1960’s London. Years later, 2012 to be exact, Big Finish bought Group Captain ‘Chunky’ Gilmore and his team back with Countermeasures, a singing sixties spy drama spin off from Doctor Who with a science fiction twist. Many say the Countermeasures team we know and love is actually the original template for UNIT but time will tell with that one.
With The Assassination Games, we get both Doctor Who and Counter-Measures in one political thriller. And what fun it is, complicated, listen-or-you’ll-fall-behind fun.
This tale takes Doctor Who to a slightly unfamiliar world, the world of politics. Some of you may disagree with that statement at this point. What about the Third Doctor’s entire era? Was it not dripping with political characters being talked down to by the Doctor, was there not constant military negotiations between the Brigadier and his commanders that caused endless problems for the Doctor? What about the Time Lords? A society dripping with political problems, intrigue and constant one-upmanship.
Yes, I agree with you but let’s not forget what came first in many of those stories, the Science Fiction. For every disgruntled politician, authority figure or Gold Usher Gallifreyan there was an Auton, The Master, a Sea Devil, an Axon or an Omega.
This is by no means the beginning of a criticism of this adventure, it’s a fine political thriller featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace and that’s exactly the point. Whilst it’s wonderful to have the whole team from Remembrance of the Daleks back together, The Assassination Games is not a Doctor Who adventure despite what it says on the label, this is a Counter-Measures story where the Doctor and Ace pop up to help. This is the story of Group Captain Gilmore, Rachel Jensen and Alison Williams and what they did after they first met the Doctor and discovered that there was a bigger Universe out there then they could ever have imagined.
Writer John Dorney has used this to his advantage however, while this is the final in the lose trilogy of stories set in 1963 to celebrate the year that Doctor Who started its journey on television screens to become The Best Show Ever Made, this story also serves as the bridge between Remembrance of the Daleks and Counter-Measures series one. This is a great stopgap between the past and the future and serves Doctor Who well in its run of stories helping to honour the show’s 50th anniversary.
Pay attention, keep up and you’ll have a great time with this tale, in fact this reviewer is going to label it his favourites in the 1963 trilogy.