This review contains spoilers.
I sat this week with my brother-in-law, who stated, “Oh, is this still on? Its not Doctor Who, is it?” And while I agree with him that the weekly dinosaur adventures are not up to the same level of quality as the BBC’s Saturday night sci-fi offering, and while he, like myself and other geeks everywhere, are sitting in trepidation waiting until April when Matt Smith and co. return to our screens, Primeval is a servicable, if not quite great Saturday evening ‘warm-up’ event.
This warm-up act is not a mad thing, especially when this episode takes various nods from Doctor Who episodes of the past. From Horror Of Fang Rock to Warriors Of The Deep, there are so many little nods to sci-fi gone by, mixed in with a good dose of League Of Gentlemen, that the main star of this week’s show could have been replaced by Peter Davison and companions. As it was, Connor, Abby and the rest of the team have very little to do and it’s the locals and the sea serpent dinosaur that steal the show.
Investigating a weird death of a camper, the under-staffed team are called to a local coastal town to look around. With Becker still recovering from his poisoning last week and Matt tracking down Emily and Ethan, it’s up to the duo of Connor and Abby, with a little assist from Lester back at the ARC, to track down what is going on.
With evidence of strange anomaly readings, the team have tracked down but cannot locate the problem. That is, until the locals start talking about a ‘worm’, a mythical sea monster that has been spotted by a local yokel. And when I say yokel, I’m trying to be nice. But, frankly, all that’s really missing is a banjo, and the locals (who drink in a bar called ‘The Cock’. Teehee) are only one interbred generation away from Deliverance country.
With dodgy accents and a dislike for snoopers, Connor and Abby come across a stonewalled approach, with the legends of myths and monsters covering up for the missing camper. The locals know something, but don’t want snoopers prowling around. While it’s not actually the monster they are protecting, but rather an illegal still designed for cheap petrol, the idea of having people snooping around really doesn’t sit well, leading to a slightly silly stand-off with pitchforks in a barn.
And while both Connor and Abby are both holding guns, the old lady with a garden implement manages to subdue both of them. Still, at least Abby didn’t do a lame karate kick to assist them in escaping. Oh, she did. Never mind.
Silly set-ups aside, the monster of the week is actually pretty good. The anomaly has appeared in a sea-filled cave, and in this cave, the worm, well, actually two, have made their home there. Looking like giant salamanders, the creatures are pretty impressive, and while some of the scenes in which the male creature is attacking a caravan site in broad daylight are a little dodgy effects-wise, all the slithering through the darkened caverns and jumping out of rivers make for quite a convincing creature of the week.
A sort of elongated crocodile mixed with a bit of Clash Of The Titans Medusa, the creature is quite formidable, only really having difficulty with camper vans, but happy to chow down on a yokel who is slowly poisoning its cave with their illegal fuel.
While all that flammable liquid could have made for an explosive Jaws-like finale, I guess the cost and pyros needed to bring down the beasts would have been prohibitive. So, we get the creatures being allowed to go back to their own time and the team having a ‘win’ with the loss of only three lives. Something that doesn’t sit well back at the ARC.
And speaking of the ARC, the rest of the team this week, frankly, don’t do anything at all. As mentioned Becker, is out and Philip seems to be just pottering around looking dubious and talking about his secrets quite openly with Connor, while Matt has his own agenda, which really adds nothing to the overall arc.
Maybe Ethan is the old man he is talking to in his spare time, and Emily is integral to understanding the anomalies, but, boy, was that chase dull and not needed. And for those keen spotters of continuity, how did Emily hug Matt while her hands were still tied and then seconds later he unties them for her? Really, these characters need to do something fast, as there is nothing of any interest going on there.
Still, lack of narrative progression aside, this wasn’t all that bad. The monster was fun and all the things the Myrka from Doctor Who should have been, the location was interesting, the coastline of Ireland looked lovely and having Connor and Abby chasing monsters across the countryside made a big difference to the usual creatures in a city scenario. And even if the series is, indeed, a warm-up act for Doctor Who, it’s still fun and not at all bad Saturday night television.
Read our review of episode 4 here.
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