Warning: this article contains mild spoilers.
Primeval. The ITV series in which a team of amateurs try to solve the mystery of why anomalies – gateways to the past and present – keep appearing, while also dealing with the aggressive creatures that come through them.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much about Primeval, and the latest series has yet to make its terrestrial debut. Admittedly, it’s a show you either love or hate. Personally, it is one of my favourite series of all time that, although not perfect, has sat in the shadow of Doctor Who more than it really should.
Already brought back from extinction at the end of series three, we have so far enjoyed two more runs since then, with series four debuting on ITV and series five on Watch. Though the future of its UK version is still uncertain, a Canadian spin-off is due to start filming very soon.
So as a new year begins, what would we like to see from Primeval in 2012? Let’s take a look…
For ITV to get around to showing series five
Now, I have no inside knowledge of the deal that was struck to bring Primeval back from the dead, but I know it included ITV premiering series four and digital channel Watch premiering series five, which it did way back in spring 2011. I don’t know why ITV hasn’t shown series five yet. Surely the gap between Doctor Who finishing and Christmas would have been the perfect opportunity, during a time when it would have benefited from more people watching television, especially when staying in to watch X Factor.
It has been said that the future of the UK series as a whole depends on viewing figures for series five, which in my opinion is just behind series three as the best so far. Delaying it this long isn’t going to help, as people forget about what happened in series four, which was basically the first part of one series split in two, much like Doctor Who’s mid-series hiatus.
So come on, ITV. What are you waiting for? Get series five on our screens, and make the most of what you have in the can.
Re-commission UK Primeval
It goes without saying that I’d love to see another series of the UK show, but this can’t be done until series five is shown. Though series five nicely wrapped up the plotlines, it did offer a glimpse into a new arc at the end. This is crying out to be explored, and can only be done if the programme is brought back.
Unless it involves a certain Abbey or occasional one-offs, ITV doesn’t really have any strong sci-fi drama series, and is always behind BBC in this sense. Though it has its critics, Primeval is the closest ITV has to a family-friendly sci-fi drama, and for this, it should be embraced.
Bring back Ethan
Okay, now we get into most plot-specific points. Ethan, who appeared in series four, didn’t reappear in the series after. His storyline was great but under-developed. He went off back into the past and could have caused all sorts of chaos. It’s time to pick this story back up and find out what he got up to. It would also be an excellent opportunity to explore more about the people he was travelling with, and their adventures through time.
Tackle the knowledge of the anomalies realistically
This is something that sci-fi always struggles with in the modern age. No matter how many Daleks or Cybermen or weird aliens invaded the planet in the BBC’s flagship sci-fi series, hardly any are caught on camera by people on their mobile phones. Everyone seems to be remarkably settled in the Doctor Who universe when aliens have invaded; when space ships have almost crashed into Buckingham Palace; when, you know, for a time the whole world didn’t die in the Torchwood episodes.
Surely that would have some impact on people’s behaviour? The closest Doctor Who has got to tackling such knowledge is to whack the big reset button and explain the knowledge away by the cracks in time absorbing the events and wiping them out.
Primeval is not entirely innocent of this. It occasionally tackles creatures appearing on eBay, journalists trying to break the existence of prehistoric creatures, and teenagers filming dinosaurs, but now in series five the cat is well and truly out of the bag, with the public seeing live TV footage of the creatures. If the series is to continue, they can’t ignore this, and need to tackle it realistically and sensibly in future editions. Which brings me onto…
Don’t mimic Torchwood in Primeval’s Canadian spin-off
Next year, the Canadian version of the show, Primeval: New World, should debut, set across the pond and thought to be darker and scarier in tone. Now, I’m all for Primeval to be darker than the family show over here. Increasingly hinting at more gory deaths throughout the series, there would definitely be scope for a more realistic interpretation of it. However, it is fantasy, so they shouldn’t get too caught up in this, nor should they make it darker as by just throwing some sex and swearing into the mix. Make it scarier, more adult, but don’t make it Torchwood.
Let’s find out what happened to the characters
Though Danny Quinn’s storyline was truncated because of his appearance in X-Men: First Class (actor Jason Flemyng played Azazel), we need to learn more about him, especially now we know his involvement with Ethan. New World has promised it will feature cross-over characters so he stands out as a perfect inclusion. What has all this time-travelling done to Danny? Has he found Ethan? And while we’re talking about crossovers…
Tie-in a UK series six with Primeval: New World
Put your hands up who thought that Holby City worked best when its plotlines tied in with that week’s Casualty? For a soap drama it must have been quite hard work, but to see characters moving between wards, over plotlines going between them both was great. For scripted drama set way ahead in time, it could be even better.
What about an over-arching plot line that affects both the UK and Canadian operations with characters talking to each other in their respective episodes? You could still watch both separately but, watch them both, and you get so much more…
Bring back Sid and Nancy
Okay, this might look like I’m scraping the barrel, but consistency is good in the series. They went to the trouble of showing that the series two mammoth was still in the ARC store way into the new series. Rex was still there. But where were Sid and Nancy, the Diictodons that Connor and Abby looked after? There was not a sign of them, or even a mention.
For characters like Sarah Page, who had to be written out quickly due to the problems of moving from series three to four, you can understand it, but for two CGI characters? If there is a new series six, then please show them, or at least refer to them.
Let’s have a Primeval videogame
Doctor Who has done it across multiple platforms, so let’s have a Primeval game. The mix of time travel, weaponry and prehistoric and future creators is a perfect mix for a cracking video game, if done properly – sort of Turok meets Tomb Raider. Failing that, can we go low-tech, and have some more books, please?
Give it some proper marketing
Regardless of whether any of the points made above ever come to pass, there is one thing the series needs, and that is better marketing. Though Watch is a small fish in a very big broadcasting pond, the amount of marketing the channel did for series five compared to its budget was impressive: trailers, a web-based flash videogame, an active Facebook presence, a 30-day countdown to the premiere, featuring exclusive interviews and behind the scenes footage – it really made the difference in building up the excitement for the series, and Watch should be congratulated for it.
With ITV, on the other hand, we were lucky to get a trailer seven days before the series started, and there was very little publicity elsewhere. With the increased funds and reach it has at its fingertips, surely it could do better? Doctor Who revels in its web presence and viral, word-of-mouth marketing, so couldn’t ITV do something similar?
So, those were our ten ideas for the future of Primeval. I’m sure a lot of you will have different ones, or perhaps aren’t exactly bothered whether it returns or not.
Whatever happens to Primeval in 2012, I just hope that series five isn’t buried in the summer schedules. It would be a shame for a great show to meet such a sad end.