A few years ago, ITV started up Primeval to enter the Saturday night family-fun market that Doctor Who had opened back up. It featured portals and CGI dinosaurs, and ran for three years before getting cancelled.
But the show did well enough elsewhere, and had enough fanbase to kick up a stink, so it’s back with series 4. Being stuck for much to review at the moment, I decided to give Primeval a go, despite having never seen it before. So, how’d that go?
The Cliffhanger That Time Forgot
Despite a few years gap, we dutifully pick up a cliffhanger from the third series involving two lead characters getting lost in time or something. They eventually make their way back (fairly arbitrarily) only to discover things have changed in their absence.
This seems a way of justifying set rebuilding and cast changes since the distant third series, although I wouldn’t know for sure. All I do know is that we kicked off series 4 with two episodes that seemed designed to gently ease us into the new set-up.
Which might be nice for old fans, but I’d have liked more actual stories, perhaps? The endings of the first two seemed so inevitable, and the plots so slight, that watching them was dull. There was a good joke in episode one involving S Club 7 though. (In case you didn’t know, a main cast member in Primeval is Hannah Spearritt, formerly of S Club 7 and attempting to replicate the career path of Billie Piper.)
Jurassic Perk III
Thankfully, once the corporate reshuffling is out of the way, things improve in the third episode. We see dinosaur adventures, without an obvious ending at last. The characters finally get loose on something that lets them display their skills and interact with one another. Oddly, Ben Miller (Of Armstrong & Miller fame) is in the cast yet rarely gets involved in any funny business
If the show has a problem, it’s the lack of a strong rapport/banter between characters. Merlin had some horrendously predictable plots, but the characters and their relationships carried it through. Here, that doesn’t come through much of the time. Also lacking closeness are the CGI dinosaurs, which often look nice, but are rarely in the same shot as the actors, or in-shot at all, which is downright distracting.
My first Primeval experience was much as I expected it to be. A functional action show, without quite the charm of a Doctor Who, or even a Merlin. And that’d be fine, except they clearly want to have that, which means repeated failed attempts. Nonetheless, the third episode demonstrated improvement, hopefully subsequent weeks give us more action.
If this review has made you somehow curious, you can watch the series 4 Primeval episodes to date on the ITVPlayer, then let me know below whether you agree with my grumpiness.