Thursday, 16 June 2011

PRIMEVAL, 5.4: beetlemania

Thursday, 16 June 2011

This was the most enjoyable episode of what's been a substandard series, if only because it kept things simple and played to the show's strengths. Episode 4 was a taught icky horror mostly set in the ARC, which was being flooded by thousands of giant beetles pouring through Connor's (Andrew Lee Potts) man-made anomaly. As Connor, Abby (Hannah Spearritt), Matt (Ciaran McMenemin), Emily (Ruth Bradley) and Becker (Ben Mansfield) grappled to contain the insect threat--complicated when insectaphobiac Jess (Ruth Kearney) was bitten and had an allergic reaction--Philip (Alexander Siddig) had to decide if he should incinerate the occupants of ARC before the teeming beetles escape into the outside world...

While this was a fun episode that, given its limitations, meant the story couldn't bite off more than it could chew. Primeval's on much surer footing when the plot is as simple as "avoid the beetles" (the CGI's usually more credible with creepy-crawlies, too), even if it still resorts to eye-rolling moments like himbo Becker shooting the queen beetle dead (against orders) or Jess finally leaving her desk... only to squeal, get bitten, and become a pale invalid. It would be more of an issue if the show didn't have some relatively strong female role-models in plucky Abby and tomboy Emily, admittedly. And they threw in a moment where the sickly Jess managing to shoot a bug dead, just to give her character a moment of courage.

And beyond the fun of seeing people hose down corridors crawling with beetles, it was the episode where Connor finally woke up to the fact his hero Philip's an egotistical megalomaniac, after realizing he was planning to kill them all to prevent the beetles getting out. It's an understandable concern, if you ask me, but there you have it. What else can you say about episode 4? I'm struggling with Primeval this year because the mythology of Philip's "New Dawn" project isn't very interesting (it obviously won't destroy the world), I couldn't care less about the Connor/Abby relationship, the show doesn't know what it's doing with time-traveller Emily, a plank of wood is more emotive than Matt, and it feels like this is just the dregs of series 4. The forward momentum with Connor now onside to stop Philip creating anomalies that may possibly destroy the world, is appreciated, but that's not a big enough hook to get me excited going forward.

written by Helen Raynor / directed by Robert Quinn / 14 June 2011 / Watch