Primeval, Series 4, Episode 3 review – Awesome Lizard-men!

The fourth episode of Primeval starts off like a Paddy joke – Three people walk through an anomaly… One’s an Irishman. One’s severely injured with an unsightly mole. One’s a lithe lizard-man from an unknown era…

OK, that was bad. Let’s move swiftly on to the review.

I had occasion to remind people earlier this week not to remember Primeval with rose-tinted glasses. If you’re appalled at the stilted dialogue and the laughable attempts at tension (not to mention the camera cutting away from a felled lizard-man as he exited the room – must’ve run out of budget), this is not a new phenomenon for Primeval. Here’s a cut-and-paste of my original comment:

I don’t know why we’re all surprised – Primeval was always this weak. It’s a dinosaur-per-week series with a bit of espionage, power play and – most bizarrely – governmental interference thrown in for good measure.

At face value, it’s lightweight escapist action-adventure that the whole family can tune into. Not as deep or far reaching as Doctor Who, but with the premise of the series being temporal anomalies and dinosaurs, there isn’t that much scope.

My advice: Switch off brain, enjoy the pretty people chasing dinosaurs for an hour. That’s all.

With your expectations suitably lowered to lightweight dino-romp, tonight’s Primeval was actually pretty good. Yes, there was plenty of lizard-chasing action. And some of it was righteously tense – the Aboreal raptors as Matt called them – were humanoid enough to be able to get around, and powerful enough to snap metal cables. Worthy adversaries! 

Matt even gets to dive through his first anomaly, assuming that the woman he’s chasing is from the present day. She’s not. She’s a Victorian woman who lives as part of a colony in prehistoric London. Which implies that anomalies are happening throughout history. 

Is it just me, or did this bust the mythology of this show WIDE OPEN? We’ve got Victorians who are dab hands at battling dinosaurs! And now we’ve got a damaged, murderous member of their colony loose in the present day! Seriously, when it looked like it would just be Matt and Gideon’s witch-hunt of the ARC, Primeval looked a bit boring. This is a brilliant development, especially since Matt’s giving shelter to Victorian lady for at least one more episode! 

Speaking of witch-hunting…

Elsewhere, Gideon is dying. That sucks. Terminally ill new character, what’s that about? And despite the ARC having radical new personnel tracking capabilities, Jess still can’t track Matt down to this old man’s garden.

This once-per-episode appearance of Gideon is excruciating. The implication is that the ARC is (yet again) responsible for some catastrophe, and Gideon has been waiting years to catch the culprit. And now that he’s dying, Matt will be picking up the mantle for him. It’s all deadly vague and completely dull. It’s such an old-school plot contrivance – the mysterious rich gentleman who knows something about the ARC, blah blah blah…

The only difference is that it looks like Gideon is one of the good guys. So, just get to the interesting part already. These cliched attempts at building mystery are a total failure. 

New Dawn

No, it’s not another teenage vampire movie. New Dawn is new character Phillip’s top secret project. Which he reveals to Connor when he thinks he’s about to be asphyxiated.

Yes, smart guy Phillip asks Connor to test the ARC’s lockdown mode and  asks Connor to test a new tracking system he built. Except the only person who can disable lockdown is…drumroll please…Phillip himself. So, when Connor tests the system, Phillip gets locked into a lab…and the air supply gets cut off. 

To be fair to Primeval, I totally believed that Phillip could die – like a sacrificial lamb, leaving behind a mysterious secret project. Could “New Dawn” be the thing that Gideon is waiting for?

So, plenty of tantalising details unlocked in tonight’s episode – Gideon’s a goner, Phillip’s got a secret project (does Lester know?), we’ve got Victorians roaming present-day London and Matt’s suspicious of everybody! Who’s good? Who’s bad? Who knows? A big improvement over the past two episodes, but just as lightweight as ever.

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  1. pirho

    I realy enjoy the way they have remade Hannah Spearitt’s character of Abby, they turned her from the vapid blonde, to a focuced, serious scientist.  Well done!  My one question is if they were trapped for as long as they were in the past, where did she get the bleach for her hair?

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Maybe she’s a natural blonde? I also wondered how she managed her menstrual cycle, and how they both dealt with their laundry – they travelled there with just the clothes they were wearing. I reckon after a year of being chased by dinosaurs, both would have been slightly ferral.

  2. pirho

    Well the clothes are easy, find a stream and wash.  The natural blonde, ok I might by that if she didnt have dark roots, and how did Conner wind up with blonde highlights?

  3. Staysee

    “Which implies that anomalies are happening throughout history.

    Is it just me, or did this bust the mythology of this show WIDE OPEN?”

    Did you not see series 3? Y’know, where cutter was placing anomalies THROUGH TIME, accounting for all the great myths for being stuff thats come through anomalies?

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