Primeval series 2 episode 3 review

Not a good week for Primeval, as Rob salutes the dodgiest special effects we've seen on telly in ages...

We are mid(ish) season with the new series of Primeval now, and it seems that the writers have decided to take a break from the ongoing wider story arcs and have this ‘stand-alone’ episode focus more on the monster of the week, rather than the secret Machiavellian goings on behind the scenes.

Personally I think that this probably isn’t what the writers wanted but the fact that Ben Miller is on nearly every TV show at the moment means he probably wasn’t available to film anything to do with the more intriguing aspects of the show. For fans of this aspect of the show all we get is a secret meeting between Martin from Green Wing and the dodgy new girlfriend of Connor’s, with them working together and getting up to no good. Which really is just something that most people guessed at last week.

So this week the action moves to a theme park (which looks like Thorpe Park) where a spate of ‘killings’ has happened. The team investigate, finding both patrons and workers of the park ripped to pieces by what looks like a big cat… all the signs that an anomaly has opened and a hungry prehistoric beastie has come to have an all you can eat buffet. The thing is there is no signs of an anomaly and Connor’s detector does not seem to work to show that one has opened. Yet still there is something in the woods taking people out…

And blimey in the woods it should have stayed. Not since Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger has there been a ropier, mangy looking Sabre-tooth big cat on our screens. I know that believable fur is one of the trickiest things to render for a CG artist but really, the effects on this week’s show really do look like they have been done on a Spectrum. The shading, lighting and look are all wrong. The creature moves badly and looks like some of the poor effects that popped up during the 1990s in Hercules and Xena. In this day and age they’re an embarrassment.

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So we have scenes of people getting chased (again) and the team running, and apart from Connor accidentally shooting the theme park’s mascot, we get all the same stuff as usual. There are some redeeming factors to the episodes and it seems the writers have taken a dip or two into cult films to gain a few shock moments and plot twists, and when they do appear it really does look as though you are watching a first draft script of Dog Soldiers with added bits of Deep Blue Sea (check out the final attack.. which is shocking and great fun).

Overall the series is still exactly where it was; fun, light Saturday night entertainment, and although the characters are developing nicely and the new status quo is bedding in nicely, the show really is let down by ropey effects which are grating and, well, downright cheap looking. If the series survives to a third season then Tim Hanes and co could really do with taking a good long look at who they employ in the FX department. They should go for somebody who can deliver something that is fitting for the audience, who are used to a higher standard from CG… blimey even Doctor Who beats them hands down. And I am not talking the new seasons… I am talking Jon Pertwee era!