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Oh Dinosaurs, in Our Home and Native Land!
on 17 February 2013
The UK sci-fi series Primeval has had a turbulent time of things in terms of production. The team behind the show has to be commended for succeeding at a time when Doctor Who was in the limelight, and UK broadcaster ITV1 began to shift away from dramas such as these, and seemingly did all they could to put the show out of business. After five series running for 6, 7, 10, 7 and 6 episodes respectively, Primeval became the prehistoric show that defied extinction and came back again and again. It was a very different beast at its end than what it was when it started, but then evolution was always a major theme of the show.
Now, Primeval has gone and done it again - it has survived extinction, and evolved into a Canadian spin-off series entitled Primeval: New World. In the process it has established a brand new team of dinosaur and anomaly-hunting experts, whilst also throwing in some vague references to the original British series that seem to be relevant to an ongoing plot. The continuity is mostly sound, and the few bits that aren't seem to be going somewhere storyline-wise. A Primeval: UK cast member also graces the show with his presence in the opening and closing episodes, bringing some familiarity and a bridge between the two.
Primeval: New World is not as family-oriented as it's British predecessor, but that doesn't hurt it at all. In fact it has allowed the show to return to the more realistic approach to drama we saw back in UK: Series 1 (there is also a major plot in the series finale that harks way back to UK: Series 1, which is a bonus treat for long term fans). The show keeps its reputation for killing off characters out of the blue, and now it doesn't have to cater to a family audience so much it can develop its characters a lot more without throwing a "Wow-how-cool!" dinosaur sequence in every other scene. The show delves into more morally grey territory that is genuinely interesting where it's "bad guys" are concerned, leaving them possibly misunderstood rather than evil (akin to Oliver Leek or Helen Cutter in the UK series). The other "bad guys" of course, are the dinosaurs and they are as well realised as ever here, with the latter half of the series offering some of the best TV CGI I've ever seen... mixed with the occasional treat of a dramatic Canadian landscape and this is a show that has matured a lot more than Primeval: UK ever did.
There was a slight lull in the middle of the series, and some clearly filler episodes emerged, but nothing staggeringly bad. The scripts are well-written enough to keep you engaged, and the dinosaur action, though a lot more relaxed than the UK show do not disappoint either. The series is definitely worth a shot for fans, and new viewers alike. I'm hoping a second series will come to justify that claim.