Primeval, Series 4, Episode 1 review – Welcome to the new ARC

Well, readers, [[Primeval (TV Series)|Primeval]] has returned. This is unusual territory for a TV series, to be cancelled, then reinstated again for not just one, but two extra series.

Because the last series ended on such an epic cliff-hanger, Series 4 begins with a clutch of returning regular characters, new members to the team and some grippingly written exits for Danny Quinn and Sarah Page.

I’ll miss the Danny Quinn character – Jason Flemyng brought a touch of authentic tough guy presence to an otherwise unconvincing male cast. For a bunch of dinosaur hunters, Connor is a reckless fool, and Becker’s black t-shirts aren’t enough to convince me he’s much of a soldier. Too much hair gel for a start.

Luckily, Quinn has been replaced by Northern Irish dino-buff Matt Anderson (Ciarán McMenamin), not quite as rugged as Flemyng, but he’ll do the job. He’s already more macho than Becker.

The hotness that was Laila Rouass won’t be returning again either. Her character Sarah Page is written out with the explanation that she died during a mission to rescue Connor and Abby. Instead, we have a new computer geek type in the form of Jess Parker (Ruth Kearney). She’s the new Field Co-ordinator for the ARC.

Series 4 Premiere

Right, so now we’ve got most of the introductions out of the way, let’s get to the episode in hand.

For the most part, there are two storylines at play. Connor and Abby are trapped in the Cretaceous period, where they’ve been for roughly a year now. Daily life is battling dinosaurs in order to stay alive. Connor is hopelessly optimistic that an anomaly will open up, but Abby seems to be more realistic about their chances of getting home.

Sadly, it’s the most unconvincing “we’ve spent a year in the Cretaceous period” ever. Connor with scruffy bum fluff and Abby with matted hair, no signs of injuries sustained through living among dinosaurs. And they’re as soft and fluffy as ever, the pair of them. What, you’re convinced by Connor’s straggly facial hair?

Even when they get back to the present day, no-one’s missed them. Don’t they have families? Abby has a brother if I remember? And nobody’s been demanding to know what happened to them? This is the kind of shit Primeval did really badly – thinking through the consequences of the storyline. This storyline felt undercooked.

Of course, the vast amounts of CGI dinosaur goodness are expected to compensate for the often weak writing. And to a large extent, they do. Lots of great chase sequences with dinosaurs ensue, though Matt’s attempt to head off a raptor with a bin lorry seemed a bit naive to me.

The second major part of the story was being introduced to the new ARC – massive technology upgrades here, the whole place looks a lot more swish. The big discovery is that the ARC is no longer a secret government initiative and that it’s part of a Public/Private Partnership. Enter Phillip Burton (Alexandrer Siddig) as the genius millionaire who’s a new part of the ARC enterprise.

The final revelations of this series premiere felt crammed into the last quarter – that Connor and Abby are no longer welcome in the field because they’re classed as ‘amateurs’. So, will they be retired? We’ll find out in tonight’s second episode. Another twist sees Matt visiting an old man and agreeing to keep an eye on Connor and Abby, and being told not to trust anyone. Is there a spy in the ARC? And if so, why is this stranger asking Matt to be on the lookout for a spy? I’m confused!

All in all, a passable episode – despite my misgivings. It’s still early days, so it’ll be interesting to see how these new characters pan out. So far, Matt Anderson and Phillip Burton are the most interesting new additions to the show. Jess doesn’t look to be much more than a colourfully dressed admin assistant, but maybe that’ll change in the future.

Update: How could I forget the hilarious use of an S Club 7 song in the arena, played by none other than Hannah Spearitt? Brilliant touch, and I’m surprised that it took them four years to play that joke! The track was Don’t Stop Movin’ in case you’re too young to remember!

Well, did you enjoy the first episode of the new Primeval?

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