This review contains spoilers.
Was it really a year ago since the last season of Primeval was on telly? Actually, no it wasn’t. Don’t worry, you haven’t tripped though a Primeval anomaly into a year in the future, but rather, due to an interesting agreement between ITV and satellite channel Watch (much to do with ITV canning the series after season 3, due to budgets).
Basically, Watch have the rights to broadcast this new series of everyone’s favourite Saturday night dinosaur drama nearly a year before ITV does. Only, of course, it’s now on a Tuesday night rather than Saturday (against Doctor Who, which would have been insane). And with all respect to the guys and girls at Watch, with a lot less viewers than prime time terrestrial telly.
But hey, now you know when and where to watch. It’s great to have the show back and for those, like myself, too impatient to wait an entire year for all those juicy cliffhangers to be resolved, here’s an opportunity to get back to some anomaly sorting action.
Quick recap: the ARC is now a joint government/military facility, and there are some new faces, possibly from the future, both good and bad. Philip may or may not very dodgy, Connor might well have turned to the dark side, the evil Patrick was sent packing and finally Danny came back, hit some monster ostriches with a huge club, and went off to star in X-Men: First Class. As we move into the new season, there’s the added trouble of giant beetles.
Have you ever been stuck in roadworks, impatiently waiting for the blokes with the diggers to put their cuppas down and get a move on with the old stop/go sign? Ever wished a great big hole would open up and take all those unused diggers, and especially all those orange road cones, down into a large black abyss, so you can be on your jolly way? Well, be careful what you wish for, as this week sees a new menace to the ARC team, as giant burrowing beetles are the creature feature of the week. And this time it’s up to Lester to lead the charge under the streets of London against the giant bugs.
Once again, this episode’s main point of interest isn’t the running through tunnels and evading monsters, but rather the continuation of the overall subplots from last season. With Connor locked in his lab for twenty-four hours doing ‘stuff’ for Philip that involves convergence theories for anomalies, he’s been ignoring Abby (how, I cannot tell!). But his work, even though disregarded by Philip, has something to do with the ‘New Dawn/Project Prospero’ from last season and is very, very top secret.
However, it’s not just Connor and Philip that have secrets, as Abby finds Matt trying to hack Connor’s computer. As you might remember, last season Matt was in the ARC trying to figure out something important that will effect his (or our) future. It’s not known yet that Connor’s work on Prospero/The New Dawn with Philip may or may not be the cataclysmic thing that affects the future. The giant hidden base with a Stargate-style bit of equipment and coils being built in the middle of it, plus a nice little speech about ‘free’ energy’ being taken from the anomalies, make it a good bet that the shady ARC advisor might well be up to no good, and is taking our favorite hacker/dinosaur with him.
We also get to meet a potential new member of the team. April, a geek-chic researcher, could be a new love interest. With Jess, Abby and now April, it seems that, for any red-blooded males, the ARC is a fantastic place to work.
With Matt and Abby at the site of the black hole, Becker wanting a tank, and a possible knighthood also on the way for Lester, if, of course, he can get out of his traffic jam, the team’s as busy as ever. And this time it seems that the firepower they have isn’t working, as these beetles are not the floppy haired ones from Liverpool, but rather big, nasty armoured ones that look like extras from Starship Troopers.
It seems that even Matt sees that the bugs are a lot more trouble than they’re worth and is happy to crack open the big guns to take them down, rather than trying to put them in the menagerie or sending them home.
Even though the team don’t get the tank (shame), they confront the monster bugs in a garden party. The beetles have apparently been here a while, and have burrowed a tunnel right though the city. The creatures aren‘t found in the fossil records, meaning another future creature has broken through the anomalies, and that’s something that Matt seems to know a bit about.
On the issue of the creature, I must admit that it would have been very easy for the effects team to keep everything in the dark, using tunnels and shadow to save a bit of time on the effects work. But, once again, the CG team has excelled themselves, as the giant beetle is rendered out in the open, in full sunlight. And as with every other creature on this show, it looks superb, a huge pitted segmented creature covered with overlapping armour and filled with spikes and mandibles. Plus, it’s got a taste for computer geeks, as Connor is taken underground to the creatures nest.
With a rescue attempt underway, Abby is dead set to storm in and rescue Connor, who’s trapped in the nest. But Matt is against it, and while the creature may well be dead, it’s done its job to ‘feed’ its brothers and sisters, as its other victims are all cocooned up, ready to be munched on.
Without spoiling the ending, the creature might or might not be alone and there may well be an explosive final reel. But, while the bug-zapping shenanigans are fun, once again we are left with a cliffhanger, as Matt reveals to Abby his mission, and the ARC team, it seems, is slowly being split down the middle on opposing sides. Oh, and as for that knighthood? Let’s just say that Lester might not actually be the one receiving it.
Overall, it was a great, action-packed premiere for this season, mixing the right amount of intrigue, monsters, explosions and expositions, and shows that the series is beginning to mature nicely.