Primeval New World episode 7 review: Babes In The Woods

Review Philip Lickley 13 Dec 2012 - 07:23

Primeval New World hits the season halfway mark with its least enjoyable episode so far. Here's Philip's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.7 Babes in the Woods

Do you know when you’re watching an episode of a television show and it feels like you’ve missed an episode as the plot lines and character development don't make sense, and you find yourself wondering whether they put an extra episode on air that you didn’t see? Well this is how I felt when watching Babes In The Wood, sadly the least enjoyable episode of the series so far following two of the strongest, which adds to the shame. 

The episode opens in a cabin in the woods – no, not that one – with a selection of beauties – the babes of the title – taking part in a photo shoot with the photographer doing his best Austin Powers parody. It’s not long before he decides to leave the women and head into the forest for a cigarette, but naturally there is a series trademark point of view shot and something is stalking him in the woods. It’s not long before he’s face-to-face with an Oviraptor (I think it’s one, it’s never mentioned in the episode) and with a flash of his camera triggers it to attack him and in a fairly graphic death scene he becomes separated from his intestines. 

After the credits, we’re once again at Cross Photonics and Toby is back, chatting to Evan about the anomalies in characteristic sci-fi pseudo-science lingo, this time concentrating on how to close anomalies, something the UK team have already figured out but the team here are trying to discover. But then, equally as expected, the anomaly detector goes off but it’s not the only alarm that fires in my head: it’s the coincidence alarm. Because, as the monitor zooms in on the location Toby realises it’s the cabin where she used to have photos taken of her as part of some risqué burlesque troupe and she doesn’t want this part of her past to be revealed to her boss, even though Evan admits he already knew. This plot line, though, starts off a series of immature and crude jokes that, though I’m not turning my nose up at it in an I’m-offended way, it just sits awkwardly with what’s has happened so far. The main culprit is in the character development of Mac who, last week, was a darker, troubled character cut-up about by the cruel and sudden death of his girlfriend. This week he doesn’t have a care about this and is the origin of a series of porn and lesbian jokes that jars with his deepening character and feels like a real misfire to me. 

Meanwhile in the building, Evan is contemplating his wedding ring, in a plot device that has yet to be really followed up since the first episode which is getting more disappointing each week, when Angelika enters and has revealed she has decided to stay in the business to support Evan on his anomaly hunting. In the office they kiss and talk briefly about their relationship, in something that seems to have developed a lot since the subtle hints of last episode and adds to the feeling of missing something. 

As the team prepares to investigate the anomaly – and at least Mac delivers some funny lines even if it jars with his character development – Angelika joins the team to keep an eye on Evan and to find out what he does. 

Back at the cabin and the models are wondering where their photographer has gone, with the dinosaur – by the inclusion of a POV shot – approaching the cabin. Meanwhile the teams are driving over to the anomaly and Dylan and Angelika share a conversation about the tasers that seems forced and patronised; I’m sure the CEO of a company knows something about tasers and even if she doesn’t do we need to be introduced to them again? Mac continues on his fantasies as they drive and when they get to the cabin but at least the line of ‘really big cougars’ as a double-meaning adds a bit of dialogue spark to an otherwise average script. 

With more POV shots thrown in there is an impressive dinosaur chase sequence as the Oviraptor runs after the jeep, with a neat shot in the rear-view mirror and by the open side-door, and a well-created feel of tension. But the driver – Nat from the group – is panicking and won’t stop the van even when they are free of the dinosaur and so is tasered, forcing the jeep off the road. 

Meanwhile the rest of the team arrive at the cabin and after a brief exploration find the dead photographer and a look at his camera reveals the creature responsible for his death. 

But it’s back at the crashed jeep where the plot develops but equally takes a dive for the gutter. It is revealed that Nat and Toby have a past as a couple. I’d like to say it’s handled in a realistic way with a genuine lesbian ex-couple introduced into the plot, but like the bisexual comment she made a few episodes ago, it feels little more than a springboard for a few dodgy lines from Mac and some, to quote a phrase, sexing up of the episode and justifying the series' 'adult' title. I’m not saying the dialogue Mac has isn’t funny but it’s funny in a schoolboy South Park way and feels like this has been included in for cheap thrills. 

Back over to the other side of the team and Angelika is chased by a dinosaur in a very well-filmed scene that shows off the CGI that has excelled in the series, and never so more here. Ken Leeds gets name-checked for the first of two times – but doesn’t appear in the episode – alongside Project Magnet with Evan once more reluctant to get him involved. The dinosaur is tranquilised and wrapped in cloth for the dragging of the body back to the anomaly that makes up the remaining twenty minutes of the episode. 

The story continues to throw puzzles in the direction of the viewers. It’s implied through a conversation between Mac, Nat and Toby that Mac and Toby are in some sort of relationship and has yet to meet the family. Either this is a subtle wind-up that isn’t shouted-down by the characters in the piece or I’ve fallen asleep sometime in the previous episodes and missed this plot line. And either way, Mac seems to be a different Mac to just the last episode where he was grieving over his killed girlfriend. 

But there’s little time for more joviality as creatures are stalking both groups but in the case of Mac, Nat and Toby it is just a bear, which looked real but superimposed into the scene and looked a little out of place, but not being a big distraction. A short sequence of making themselves look as big as possible to distract it was, in itself, a nice distraction and proves it’s not just creatures from the past which are a threat to them. 

Over with Evan, Dylan and Angelika, and the writer continues to make some weird decisions. They have emphasised in other episodes the need to stick together in the face of creature attacks and in this episode to keep the smallest member in the middle to project them. Then, knowing something is stalking them, Evan is left alone while Dylan and Angelika go off to monologue about why Angelika has joined them on the team and naturally the dinosaur appears but is quickly dispatched over the edge of a cliff by Evan, or at least he is not sure whether he hit it. 

With the end of the episode in sight we get the first glimpse of the anomaly on a bridge which Mac and the team are heading for, but back at the other group, the drama of dragging the dinosaur across the forest continues with more self-generated tension as Dylan falls down a slope and dislocates her shoulder, but it’s quickly back in and feels more like a way of stretching out the episode rather than adding plot. 

Mac is called back to join Evan to now help drag the body through the forest but this comes to nothing and they set a new plan in motion to get the other dinosaur, which they assume Evan missed, to the anomaly and naturally this works and a chase through the forest ensues, with another neat piece of CGI which makes up for the less-than-exciting plot. Toby and Nat share a kiss in front of the anomaly after the first bit of proper character development for them even if the kiss feels more like voyeurism than any real development there. 

There is a last bit of drama at the end as Toby and Nat have to jump over the side of the bridge and grab on to avoid the dinosaur – though arguably they could have just stuck up close to the barrier – which goes through the anomaly and the episode is rounded up with a longing look back by Dylan at Evan and Angelika standing side-by-side looking into the anomaly, suggesting there might be something to this three-way love affair, but it still just seems a little false and under-explored. 

Ken Leeds is name-checked again at the end as Evan agrees to get him involved in containment of the area, rounding off an average, slightly disappointing episode. 

So where does Babes In The Wood stand in the series so far? Well it’s the episode I’ve enjoyed the least, not necessarily because of the creature of the week element which was not bad, if not that exciting either – even though the CGI was as strong as ever, but because of the inconsistent plotting. Mac’s character, which darkened over the last few episodes, seems to have see-sawed back into being jokey and the relationship between Evan and Angelika doesn’t quite gel. The subplot of Toby and Nat’s past seemed to be put in for nothing more than a few jokes at their expense and what could have been an interesting pair of non-heterosexual characters in a show seemed to descend into voyeurism.

I hope we get a more exciting episode next week to build back up the character designs. Sure the previous episode might have been a little soapy, but at least it was consistent with what had come before. This episode seemed odd as if it was either filler or moved back from earlier in the run which would explain the character inconsistencies. 

Babes In The Wood brings us to over the halfway mark of the series. So far Primeval New World has definitely been worth the watch with the CGI proving strong and the character development arguably better than the UK original, but the overall plotting and sense of drama seems considerably less than the series that inspired it. Plot strands set up in the strong opener – including Connor’s words of warning and the mysterious figure cryogenically stored, linked into the death of Evan’s wife – have been ceremoniously dropped, and others like Ken Leeds' involvement, his capturing of one of the creatures hiding in his car boot and the unravelling of what the anomalies mean, seem inconsistent and drop in and out of episodes without any smooth flow. 

There have been high points such as the shock death of Sam and the focus on more gruesome deaths, but it doesn’t seem to gel like the original series with no overarching arc, and relationships, plotlines and such that don’t seem to move smoothly from one episode to the next. How this all pans out over the next six episodes will mark how this series is judged but at the moment it’s great to see anomalies and creatures back on screen but it just makes me wish they’d made a sixth UK series instead of this at the moment.

Read Philip's review of the previous episode, Clean Up On Aisle Three, here.

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I decided to give this one more episode as I thought, with it being the half way point of the series, there would be a major plot development, but no.
The characters still aren't interesting me, they just lack the spark and personality the likes of Connor, Abby and Cutter had. The plot doesn't seem to be going anywhere or building up to anything, as you said, they've hinted at a few things but haven't really developed them. Also for a "spin off", there's been very little to link this and the original together, its been more like remake if anything.
It is a shame, I wanted to like this but all its done is make me want the UK version to get a series 6.

Good grief, where to start??? The series is quite poor , that's a start I suppose. Two jeeps going to the same destination. Separated but when ?? Upon arrival by the first team , 4 of our babes take off in an open vintage vehicle but are not targeted. One remaining girl panics and drives the van (NOT the Jeep) on a back road and is quickly joined by two of our heroes. They get stuck (surpise) and then... a CGI generated grizz! (so close to Vancouver???).Given state of the art electronics this lot carry, could they not have found each other using GPS and SWRs? Then from nowhere seemingly, they are on a marked trail and (surprise) they find the bloody anomaly on a pedestrian bridge. Not sure how the one oviraptor gets out of the bag but I guess it does i n order to join its mate through the rabbit hole (assuming the anomaly does not close again).
Oh yes, they seal off the area from whence they had come but what about the paths leading to the bridge and anomaly on the other side???
Er, could there not be more of these critters (they were pack hunters after all).

No continuity , once again mediocre acting and dialogue , same old, same old!

It's not an Oviraptor, it's an Ornitholestes. The Primeval New World website always states the creature in their episode summaries.

When I saw the episode. I instantly thought Ornitholestes. Oh and other than the POVs, the sound of the creature is the same as a few before.

Wow. Reading the comments here makes me think that I was wrong about this episode. The last few, save the first one, were a bit of a bore that I found myself falling asleep, and although I agree that Mac could have looked a bit mournful given Sam's death, I found this episode to be more upbeat than the last, it actually pulled me in rather than made me feel like I was standing on the opposite side of a glass door and just watching for the sake of watching. It was funny, and since i'm a huge Mac/Toby shipper it was well worth the watch because they had some awesome scenes.

I agree it could have gone in a better direction, possibly included a follow-on from the previous episode with Sam's death, but it wasn't 'crap' per say. Plus, it was the half-way point. Maybe we'll get some continuity throughout the last half of the season.

Still hanging on for a season 6 of the UK original version.

The show is supposed to be entertaining, and I think it succeeds. Those of you knit picking at implausibility are ridiculous it's sci-fi. Lastly STOP comparing it to the uk version, a spin off usually is it's own animal see angel and Buffy, melrose place and Beverly Hills 90210, the Jefferson's and all in the family. A spin off should be it's own series without crossovers every two seconds!

a. im watching this on a computer since im in the usa so maybe it looked better on tv, but that bear shot in the woods looked close to bizarre & really didnt even look much like the same woods that they were in.

b. it seems about every episode now has as the side character death the person laying on their back with the dinosaur eating their stomach. i think they could change that up a little bit!

c. this show seems closer to a lot of grimm episodes in the way a lot of them dont really involve an overarching storyline too much & its a creature of the week. the episodes of grimm that have dealt with a bigger overall story have been the best, & i would assume that would be true here, they just havent really done much of that yet. if there was more development on a season-long storyline or something it would break up the monotony of a creature of the week because that wouldnt be the total focus of each episode or at least about 98%.

d. i liked this episode better than ep 6 because at least this dino was a little bigger & somewhat scarier, but the location of a pretty woods is much better & more interesting than a dark appliance store where the entire episode takes place.

e. as the show gets into the last half of the first season they have to start having a lot more overarching storyline creation & development. this show has no bad guy right now, no season-long intrigue(s) to any big degree. id like to know what ken leeds is doing with the terror bird & why he's holding it, will a branch of government or some group that is holding something over leed's head become a series villain? i think there needs to be more scientific intrigue like in the uk version & more urgency in most areas.

f. mac was pretty funny in this episode.

Wait, which version of the episode did you watch? Ken Leeds makes an appearance at the episodes epilogue, where he and his superior(? He called him 'sir' a few times, but his manner of acting towards him is more akin to two officers of equal rank than junior to superior) where there was some conversation which I didn't really follow.

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