Primeval: New World: 101 Review
Reviewed by David Selby.
I’ve always been a fan of Primeval, watching since the first series in 2007. The mysteries surrounding the Anomalies and chief villain Helen Cutter drew me in more and more, and the resolutions satisfied (hence Series 1 is my favourite series). But the show progressively moved away from Helen, and whilst I loved all the following arcs, I believe that the writers lost track of the show’s direction. Many questions were left unanswered and what was possibly going to be the last ever series of Primeval ended on a jaw-dropping cliffhanger, which left me going not just “Wow”, but also “Why?!” Why did they decide to start yet another intricate plot whilst not terminating the others? How on earth could the show tie up all of these loose ends? Could Primeval: The New World work?
Let’s start off with the characters. Firstly, Evan Cross (Niall Matter): he’s a scientific genius, investing the majority of his attention in the study of micro-tech, until discovering an Anomaly. Due to the cruel, unexpected nature and link to the Anomalies, Evan blames himself wholly for his wife’s death. He’s the protagonist, a hero; a role-model, yet he’s not perfect; he’s haunted by his past tragedies and is battling his inner demons. He was portrayed well in the episode, and shows great potential. He’s utterly unique and could be a good replacement for Matt.
With Evan as the protagonist, there is a need for a quantity of ‘supporting’ characters. These are needed to secure themselves as both members of the team and parts of the series plotline, as well as sharing a dynamic with Evan; their emotional proximity with his character being explored, and the pinnacle of the relationships being helping him discover his inner valour. These characters need to be appropriately grounded with a credible subplot defining each individual, and also be relatively compassionate. They should be unique, yet flawed in their own way; ultimately learning for the better. The first, and my personal favourite, is Dylan (Sara Canning). She’s pulled into the mystery straight away and is adventurous, sovereign and good in a crisis. Her job of listing exact injuries for the police leads to a very poignant scene later on when her college is killed, and the propinquity between her profession and her personal social life becomes clear: her job is her life. It’s very touching, and adds depth to her character.
As for the others, though, they linger mostly underdeveloped. Mac (Danny Rahim) was entertaining for his scenes, but lacked any kind of real authenticity, which remains the same for the other characters. I could spot a lot of potential in Angelika (played superbly by Miranda Frigon). She’s a conspicuous, astute businesswoman, who has an exclusive bond and suitably undeveloped history with Evan. With any luck, the relationship will be fully tested by the Anomalies and the implications they have on their dynamic.
Moving away from the characters and on to the plot, my opinions are largely undecided. I don’t actually find the plot particularly memorable. Obviously, it’s an introduction as the first Primeval was, but the first series seemed to have a clearer narrative: a band of miscellaneous characters, brought together by the Anomaly in the woods, and dealing with the creature inside. Whilst this had a similar premise, it didn’t deliver as well. I’m not sure at all how the boy in the nest got there, or why they have no record of the Anomalies, giving as they were appearing more frequently. Unfortunately, it almost seemed as if the characters got in the way of the plot, instead of enhancing it.
Production-wise, the base is great, just as visually imposing as the old ARC, but with quite a sizable Torchwood-esque touch. It’s got odd bits of furniture like a clean, contemporary kitchenette, juxtaposed to a very old structure, not at all homely; very minimalistic, oddly designed, and with a classic ‘science fiction superbase’ finish. I really like this, and it’s an improvement in my opinion to the last ARC.
The best scene, in my view, would have to be the first trip through the Anomaly. There were some very striking visuals (an increased budget inevitably makes a large difference to a show such as Primeval) as well as making an opportunity to advance the plot further.
Connor’s appearance is hardly worth talking about. It was a real disappointment; to surreptitiously creep around the base, lie to the characters, and all just to warn them? It was an unsatisfactory conclusion and not enough of a nod to the original series for me. The same goes for the emergent story arc; why not tie up Primeval’s loose ends first? Why was there a doppelganger of Matt at the end of the series? What happened to the Future Predators? I’m sure the ARC were supposed to have created them at some point; wasn’t that the recurring theme of the future; a real-life dystopia created by Phillip and worsened by the ARC? Or have I missed the point? And if this is set before Series 5, what will happen with the convergence?
And finally, the use of dinosaurs. Well, there’s nothing immediately captivating about them, but the idea of using two prehistoric creatures for the opener was a good one. I’d have liked to have seen exactly how the boy had found his way to the beast’s nest, but apart from that, I have no real qualms there.
Overall Rating: 5/10
A decent story with a few great moments. There’s potential for this new series, but also a few weaknesses and misused elements – the inconsistency relating to worldwide appearances of anomalies, the underdevelopment of certain characters, and the underused Connor. Needless to say, I’d hoped for better – but it wasn’t awful.