Monday, 20 April 2009


Monday, 20 April 2009

||SPOILERS|| Still grieving the loss of Cutter, the ARC team have to pull themselves together when a giant anomaly appears in a local airstrip's hangar. Unfortunately, investigative journalist Mick Harper (Ramon Tikaram) manages to steal one of their handheld trackers, and takes his cynical editor and a camera crew to film the anomaly and hopefully catch a dinosaur on film...

They get their wish, as a Giganotosaurus ("G-Rex") comes through the timehole, leading to a prolonged battle on the airstrip between Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) in a truck, the stricken crew of a landed plane, and eventually Danny Quinn (Jason Flemyng) piloting a helicopter to distract the beast. Of course, Danny's not part of the ARC team, so there's some antagonism between him and acting-leader Jenny (Lucy Brown), although Danny ultimately manages to prove his usefulness and save the day, before disappearing on his motorbike. The hero.

I never thought I'd say this, but this episode actually did miss Douglas Henshall, if only because he's more believable as a leader than Jenny or Connor, who both try to take on that responsibility here. Danny is clearly being set-up as Cutter's replacement, and Flemyng is more of an action-man than the academic Cutter ever was, so we'll see how the show gets on when he joins full-time. Really though, episode 4 had a few notable elements (the reporters getting confirmation that these dino-spewing anomalies are real; Connor creating a device to actually seal them1) that suggest the writers are getting to grips with the series, but it was essentially an excuse for some big special effects. The G-Rex suffered from blurriness (as most of Primeval's creatures do), but I remain impressed that they can get this quality of visual on British television. The attack wasn't exactly thrilling, however; it was mindless and silly, but it looked distracting enough to keep the kids quiet.

As ever, away from the visuals, there's not much going on with the characters to get excited about. The sense of grief over losing Cutter was restricted to solemn words from Jenny and Sarah (Laila Rouass, still underused), and Connor gets a few tearful scenes early on. But it's essentially business as usual, and I remain unmoved by the "love story" between Connor and Abby (Hannah Spearritt), which appears to hit the rocks when Connor gets a call from someone he assumes is Abby's new boyfriend. I am mildly curious about Lester's (Ben Miller) new boss Christine Johnson (Belinda Stewart-Wilson), though -- as her own team can track anomalies and are experimenting on a Future Predator in a lab. I just doubt any of that's going to bear much fruit for awhile yet, or prove to be anything exceptionally imaginative or thrilling.

Overall, this was another episode that's easy to watch, but easier to forget. There's great potential in Primeval, but I feel that the mix of characters isn't very strong, their roles are poorly defined, the mytharc is never entirely convincing, and there are plenty of holes in the concept (why don't these anomalies open up outside London, or in public areas where you can't keep the situation a secret?) It's saving grace is the excellent special effects and occasional amusement -– like casting goofy real-life naturalist Nigel Marvin as a documentary filmmaker who gets eaten by a G-Rex. Well, it beat Steve Irwin's tussle with a stingray.

18 April 2009
ITV1, 6.55pm

Writer: Paul Mousley
Director: Mark Everest

Cast: Jason Flemyng (Danny Quinn), Andrew-Lee Potts (Connor), Lucy Brown (Jenny), Hannah Spearritt (Abby Maitland), Ben Miller (Lester), Ben Mansfield (Becker), Laila Rouass (Sarah), Ruth Gemmell (Katherine Kavanagh), Ramon Tikaram (Mick Harper), Belinda Stewart-Wilson (Christine Johnson), Alex McSweeney (Captain Wilder), Robert Lowe (Jack Maitland), Antony Edridge (Captain) & Nigel Marven (Himself)

1. A steal of Stargate's "iris" shield, really. And you have to worry about any series that seems to be copying Stargate.