Now, that’s how to start a show! You remember how badly Jurassic Park: The Lost World did the ‘dinosaur runs amok in the city’ stuff? Well, hats off to the Primeval crew, as the first minute of this week’s episode, with all its screaming and panic on a busy street as a massive T Rex-like creature rips its way through a shopping arcade, hands down beats everything Spielberg tried to shoehorn into his dino epic.
High praise, indeed, for a television show, and to add to the kudos, it’s good to see a classic rampaging monster out in the open, not shaded by night time tricks or shadows. This is showing off in all its CG dino glory, in a great homage to Harryhausen’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and if I had worked on any aspect of this week’s show, I would think, “Yep, we nailed it at last.”
It’s just a shame, then, that the rest of the episode is not quite as impactful (although, as we’ll discuss, it’s got plenty in its locker). Well, that’s an opinion I’ve used over and over for the past few weeks when summing up some of this new season’s episodes, that have rotated though the budgeting limitations of the show. It was a little thin on action this week, a lack of originality that week, and a dash of meandering predictability here and there, all of which, in some way or another, stifled the potential quality of the show.
Things have been done to a budget, and at times, you can tell, but at last the escapades of the ARC finally get the big showcase payoff they deserve.
After the initial rampage, Lester has the first team brief of the entire season, as, for the first time in a long time, we get everyone together and on the same side. This is something that should have been made more of, as banter flies, jokes are cracked and even Becker gets a good line or two. This is what’s been missing for a while, an actual bit of character and team development.
We get to see Philip and Helen’s link finally exposed, Matt’s true mission, and that Lester has the most bureaucratic way of saving the world.
Philip has been finally found out, and Connor, now knowing what’s going on, is all for shutting down Philip’s plan, and allows Matt to try and shut down the machine in New Dawn.
With the potential for Lester and Philip to have a head to head, the ARC team’s ‘little secret’ is out, with the first big public outing of a dinosaur and the first major full-on rampage we’ve had for a few seasons. (Things like the public’s reaction to the sabre-toothed tiger and mammoth episode seem to have been forgotten.) Yes, that’s right its show time, as we get a full-on monster showdown that’s in public and, well, a bit bloody.
Even the bits with the idiot girl are fantastic, even though she’s supposed to die due to her complete stupidity. But the action scenes are all rather good, especially the biting jaws of the T Rex that get a little too close for comfort. The nose to nose action is great and the climax with an unflinching Matt is done really well.
The T Rex (and the rest of the creatures this week) looks fantastic. Again, something that the team who do the CG should be proud of. The show once again pushes the decency for a family show, with bloody corpses and dead bodies.
The T Rex element is something to appease the ‘monster of the week’ crowd, and the assumption is that, once this brief, if fun battle is over, it would be back to the more human elements of the story. But how wrong you would be, as this is the episode where the season’s budget was spent, and just like Doctor Who, the griping about ‘cheap’ episodes is forgotten when the ARC reads that there are anomalies opening up everywhere, and we get a smorgasbord of fantastic dinosaur action.
The entire team is on call as all hell breaks loose when the ‘convergence’ takes place. Matt explains that this is something that’s happened before, and that it involves something to do with the polarity of the poles and natural selection and the order of things. It all seems a bit vague and pseudo-science, but, hey, it works, especially when you find that Philip’s tinkering with the anomalies and the convergence effect will create something that may well knock the natural balance of the world off.
Philip knew this was going to happen, and had fortune and glory in mind since the beginning. He sees New Dawn as a way to save the world. It’s just a shame that he won’t have Connor to help him, as the dastardly businessman will not let anything stop him, even if it means losing his top scientist, who’s trapped in a car, at the mercy of a rampaging dinosaur.
With Matt and Emily off to stop Philip, Connor fending for himself, and Abby and Becker looking to stop some carnivorous worms, the entire team all have their own objectives, and stopping them is the whole range of creatures we’ve seen on the show. Although we’ve seen of them before, it’s good to see that the show finally steps up a gear with the action, as not only are the dinos menacing, but the pacing, editing and overall feel to the episode works.
Among the warthog dinosaur, who looks like Larfleeze, there’s the Orange Lantern (from Green Lantern) to deal with, not to mention the superb T Rex, Philip steals the show as a true monster, even having an evil-voiced countdown robot. There’s a Blake’s 7-style industrial estate set to hide in, stupid guards, mocking lackeys and even a plot exposition or two at the ready, and did I mention the terror birds as well? There’s evil for you.
Not only that, but we get an Abby and Connor reunion, Lester getting to kick ass and take names, and Becker might not make it, all concluding with the team reuniting at New Dawn where they go through the barrage of trials. Abby gets to play Donkey Kong with some guards, Philip and Connor battle between themselves for computer control, and we get some blonde on blonde action from April and Abby.
Will Philip destroy the world or will Matt stop him? Well, we’ll have to wait to find out. This was a great, gripping episode that steps up a gear or three. Roll on next week.
Read our review of episode 4 here.
Primeval airs Tuesdays at 8pm on Watch.