This review contains spoilers.
Has it really only been six weeks since this new series of Primeval started? Frankly, it seems like only yesterday I was packing away the Christmas tree and doing double duty on writing up the first two episodes.
While it does seem that January has passed us in a blink of a eye, it really has been that long since Connor, Abby and the Primeval crew got dusted off, and once again appeared as part of our Saturday night line-up. And now it seems that once again they are off, after what can only be described as a whimper rather than a bang.
I do not know whether we are so used to the slow build of American television, but to me, having only seven episodes really did feel like things were rushed and finished too quickly, and the longer, interesting lingering plots were wrapped up and dealt with as an afterthought, ruining any momentum the show built up.
It’s as though the series had the creative plug pulled on it, with the producers worried that another few episodes would not get commissioned (odd, given that the next series of the show is already in the can). And the notion of good storytelling and rewarding the viewer were thrown out the window, and the intelligence or intrigue this season was attempting to provide was just nixed for budget or fear of being canned again. Blimey, even six episodes of Misfits or Red Dwarf provided more of a pay-off than this.
A climax to a season should resolve matters, leaving the opportunity to explore new areas and new ideas. A pay-off, if you will, for your commitment to following the more intricate plot and spending all those hours waiting and wondering. Think about Lost, a good pay-off? Debatable, but at least it was a good talking point. But here, seven episodes into a series that is just hotting up, things are wrapped up and put away without any sense of enjoyment or fulfilment.
For those who have followed the series, things were really one big disappointment after another, and all those tasty morsels of plot were tossed away in a contrived and, at times, ludicrous plot.
Here is another suggestion: do not insult your audience at every opportunity. This episode was rushed and wasted, every interesting concept thrown away in a out of hand fashion, and all the elements that made the show just that little bit deeper than just a monster of the week were all just tossed aside.
For starters, the main big-bad of the season, Ethan, is neither the serial killer from the past nor a person trapped within our time, with the skills and knowledge required to build evil cunning plans. He is (and here is the big reveal, folks) Danny’s lost brother! Yup, the kid who got ‘taken’ last series by the invisible bat thingies is Ethan.
But wait. He isn’t even called Ethan. He is called Patrick. Yes, it’s that rubbish, and to add just that little extra waste of story, Danny comes back to conveniently be reunited and to find that all the ‘evil’ Ethan/Patrick was doing was just a way to get back at Danny for not finding him.
Now, while I don’t write television shows, even I can see that this was a cobbled together piece of crap, an editorially dictated pay-off by somebody who really has no regard or interest in the ability to write drama. A manager somewhere, perhaps, who sees stats and viewing figures as a indicator of what is good and bad. A person far removed from the concept or narrative or storytelling techniques, for whom a good read is a telephone directory.
There are, across the UK, twelve-year-old kids sitting in creative writing classes chuckling behind their push-pens and Pokemon pencil cases, giggling at the utter stupidity of the writing being shown here.
Please ITV, I am cheap, available and can string a sentence together. I can write better than this. Go on, employ me.
The concept of the show is fine, but good grief, whoever you are paying to write this really does need to read a book or two or (gasp) actually watch some other television shows. My suggestion is anything HBO is producing right now. Because this episode has thrown away an otherwise decent series run.
To the episode itself, then. An anomaly (you know, a big wobbly time-y wime-y thing) opens in a prison. It’s wonky and is unlike any we have seen before, but it has giant monster birds in it that eat people.
The team of cool ARC people come and see it and all the buttons and guns and lasers and stuff do not work on it. And then Danny comes out with a bad wig on and a stick and he hits the birds, and then the baddy man, Ethan, comes to see them with a clockwork radio. But he is not Ethan, but Patrick, and he is Danny’s brother, but he is a baddie.
Then Connor finds that there are two anomalies, one with birds in it, and another going back to the olden days of Lark Rise To Candleford, where Emily comes from. And then she goes back and Ethan/Patrick go back too, but he goes where the giant birds go and Danny follows him (because he can only be in one episode, because he is playing Nightcrawler’s dad in the new X-Men film).
Oh, but before Emily goes, she has a talk with Matt and we find he is from the future and is here to stop something happening to the ARC and the world, and it might have something to do with Connor and Philip, who might be a baddie too. The end.
Yup, that’s it. What an absolute waste, and a horribly dumbed-down way to end the show.
Ah, you might say it’s for kids. Really? Seeing people torn to shreds or being eaten all series is not a series aimed for kids, and anyway, most kids are far more intelligent than you give them credit for. Have you read Harry Potter?
I really like Primeval. I like that fact that it’s punched above its weight and given us some fun teatime telly. But this final episode? It’s terrible.
Here’s hoping that series 5, due on our screens later this year, can turn this mess around.