Primeval: Top 5 Creatures
By David Selby
If you ask anyone about Primeval, they’ll probably tell you about the creatures. At its core, Primeval is a dinosaur-hunting programme. Lasting six series, however, it obviously did more than just that. But these ancient critters were always there, playing a different role in the narrative each time. To keep Primeval going, the production team had to be inventive. Here I count down the Top 5 creatures in Primeval: how they were used, whether they were effective, why they were unique, and why they deserve the acclaim I’m giving them. Let the countdown begin…
Featured in Primeval: New World’s fifth episode, Undone, these prehistoric dogs were possibly the most threatening past creature ever to enter Primeval. They were fast, cunning, and completely unstoppable. Killing Sam off was the perfect move because it accentuated their threat. They’re like prehistoric killing machines: ruthless, devious and sly. Their exit, however, was surprisingly poignant: the writer chose to ingeniously portray a resemblance between them and the humans, as one of the creatures grieved for its partner in the same way that Mac did for Sam. It was a stroke of brilliance and brought great pathos to the episode.
4. Terror Birds
The Terror Birds became something of a returning antagonist in both Primeval and Primeval: New World. They first made their appearance in the sixth episode of Series Three, wherein they terrorized an absconded ARC team. They were unstoppable, and their methods of killing were brutal. They used their heavy beaks to tear flesh away and could run 65km/h. They were almost impossible to take down, and fundamentally pack killers. I’m glad they made their appearance. And like the Lycaenops, in The New World, one of these vicious creatures actually evoked some sympathy from the audience – a quiet little birdy, cleverly named ‘Leggy’. Its death was remarkably moving.
Here of course I’m referring to the reptilian species that encompassed Rex, Abby’s adorable pet lizard, whom was in the show as long as his owner. Actually, I’m just referring to Rex (though I like that little scene where you see the Coelurosauravus flying freely in the Series One opener). He was a beautiful little creature, and hopefully is still going strong back at the ARC. He seemed to be the victim of any unsuspected meanie who got into either the ARC or Connor/Abby’s home – for example: Jack (Abby’s idiot of a brother), Jack’s gambling friends, Caroline (Connor’s vindictive girlfriend who wasn’t actually so bad in the end) and numerous creatures who he got trapped with – namely the terrifying ‘James Lester’. Rex was endearing and was thus an easy method of bringing about emotion from the audience. No one likes seeing innocent creatures get hurt – especially cute ones.
2. Fungus Creature
Inventive, horrific and threatening, this unnamed fungi only ever made one appearance in the show, in the fifth episode of Series Three (which, if you’re unaware, which you probably are, is one of my favourite ever Primeval stories). What was so ingenious about these infiltrating fungi was that it wasn’t actually a creature that came through an Anomaly. Instead, it was more of a bacterium, which used humans to incubate in. That was what was so scary about it; it was a threat to us, and flourished best in our world. Primeval had done the whole ‘eaten by a creature’ lark. But being turned into a mushroom? That was new and certainly took the viewer by surprise.
1. The Future Predator
The Future Predators are the Daleks of Primeval. The fact that they are made-up future creatures means that there’s no limits. They establish a few facts earlier on (they’re future evolutions of bats, and can literally see sound; they’re incredibly fast and can kill even the likes of a lion without difficulty) but other than that, there’s always something new to surprise you. It’s because you literally can’t escape a Future Predator that makes them different to the other creatures. Unless you’re saved, you’re dead. They’re one creature the show have never tried to make look nice: if they came into the world, we’d all be dead. Scrap predator control.
The mystery of the Future Predators was played out through the first five series. They can survive in all kinds of situations: in the Series Five finale, they’re seen prowling the barren landscape, though slightly mutated. In Series Three, you see what they’ve done to the world. You get clues to how they came about: they’re the result of genetic experimentation – apparently by the ARC. And they’re the catalyst of Helen’s insanity. I don’t know why they never made their appearance in The New World.
It’s this guessing-game aspect of the Future Predators that makes them so watchable. There’s always something to come out of the woodwork!