Primeval New World episode 1 spoiler-free review

Review Philip Lickley 8 Jan 2013 - 07:15

Philip takes a spoiler-free look at the first episode of Primeval: New World, airing in the UK this evening on Watch...

1.1 The New World

With the UK based original version of Primeval on what could well be a permanent hiatus, we do at least get to enjoy a thirteen-part Canadian spin-off. Originally broadcast on North American channel ‘Space’ back in November/December (and currently on a mid-season break) the new series takes the original idea of holes in time through which past and future creatures pass and gets them opening up in Canada, investigated by a fresh team of anomaly investigators. 

Those new to the concept will find their introduction to the series relatively pain-free in series opener The New World, but it's handled well enough for Primeval regulars to not feel bogged down in catch-up, which is a difficult balance but done well here. 

In this new world, we are introduced to the company Cross Photonics, a hi-tech business run by Angelika Finch (Miranda Frigon) and Evan Cross (Niall Matter), playing the James Lester and Nick Cutter characters respectively, the latter even given the same back story at the opening of the story though he also has elements of Connor rolled into his technologically-minded scientist role. 

Joining these two are Dylan Weir (Sara Canning) the predator-expert and the equivalent of Abby Maitland; Mac Rendell (Danny Rahim) the non-military Becker with the slightly stereotypical British accent; Toby Nance (Crystal Lowe), a female Connor, and Lt. Ken Leeds (Geoff Gustafson), a governmental figure in charge of the mysterious ‘Project Magnet’. 

The New World focuses mainly on introducing these characters and their various personalities and this is done pretty well through the episode, but also has time to throw in a couple of creatures for them to deal with and the appearance of a familiar face who appears part-way through the opener to dispense some mysterious advice before disappearing, at least bridging the gap between the series and including some humour. 

Much has been made of the adult nature of the show and, though later episodes do go on to add a bit more gore and language into the mix, there isn’t much more in this opener than we got on the UK original, certainly no change as seen going from Doctor Who to Torchwood though there are a few brief shots of people who have got on the wrong side of nature.

Cinematically it’s an enjoyable episode to watch and the CGI is strong, but no better or worse than the original Primeval and, as shown in the pre-credit sequence, isn’t quite as adventurous as you may want in depicting the creatures. The classic musical theme has been replaced by a slightly poorer alternative, but a good enough intro theme on its own, with a pretty strong visual set of credits. The series does obsess with style over substance at times, though, with sped-up establishing slots and a pointless scene with a motorbike that try to look cool but end up jarring a little. 

The writing is a little mixed but the first episode does include some good character development, banter, and scientific explanation of the anomalies but as a plot it lacks the excitement of the UK Primeval with the dénouement of the creature storyline echoing one from the first series of the original but lacking the tension that made it great. 

It’s worth sticking with the episode though, as it’s the last ten minutes that score big with discussions of a secret governmental project and a surprise in the basement that ties in neatly with the discovery by a familiar face mid-way through the episode. 

Overall the first episode manages to introduce the characters and the concept well and neither alienates first time viewers or fans of the UK series, and even throws in a treat for British ARC fans. The show continues to be happy to have death never that far away, even for established characters, though saying any more would err into spoiler territory. The stronger CGI and more adult focus promised in this series doesn’t really show itself in this forty-five minutes and compared to the first episode of UK Primeval it’s not as enjoyable, though the final quarter is promising and a real treat. 

It may not be the series six that many fans want, but it’s not a let down and it’s great to see the concept back on the screen. And at least, once more, Watch has proven itself to be a channel with a strong focus on marketing and, like their exclusive first-showing of series five of UK Primeval, have strongly promoted the series, something ITV could really take inspiration from...

Read Philip's in-depth, spoiler-filled review of Primeval: New World's season opener, here.

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