Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Back to the near future

Primeval series 3 ended leaving me with mixed feelings. Some of the most fascinating characters (particularly Helen Cutter and Claudia/Jenny) are gone. Helen's ultimate goal turned out to be a fairly crude wipe-out-those-naughty-humans plot - I was expecting something a bit more subtle and super-intelligent, perhaps a more targetted interference in history that would account for the timeline changes between series. I was also completely wrong about the first episode - the idea of myths and legends didn't really get developed. Instead the series mainly jumped between the present and the near future so there were too few new (or old) beasties and slightly too many encounters with those bat-evolved predators, cool though they are.

Series highlights: Two stories stood out for me: as a cat lover I particularly enjoyed the sabre-toothed tiger and it's misguided guardian who should have known that you can't take the wild streak out of any cat. The parasitic fungus story was also cool. Hannah Spearitt finally got her gloves off and tried her hand at some action sequences; that annoying "intelligent" flying gecko was finally replaced by an ordinary baby dino; action in general was pretty good; and it's still near-faultless CGI with the added attraction of being palaeontologically correct. And nothing with velociraptors in it can ever be all bad.
ITV are also trying really, really hard with their ongoing interactive episodes. The concept is good and the effort that's gone into the polished and feature-packed website really shows; but I couldn't get into the online story. There was a similar problem with the one-off Doctor Who "Attack of the Graske" - these have to be accessible to quite young viewers so for anyone else they can't help but come across as a bit slow and patronizing.

I'm curious as to the future of this show - there's talk of international adaptations and a film, but ITV have confirmed that there won't be a fourth series in the UK. If I'm honest I think this is probably the right decision - this is a good point for the producers to just head for the nearest anomaly, carrying the mostly positive experience of this series with them to new projects.

[edit 23.6.09 - Lucy Brown is the actress who plays Claudia and Jenny]


Molly said...

Hmmm.... I loved the first series of Primeval. I wasn't as keen on the later series set in a parallel universe, largely because -- without exception -- all the bad guys were such pantomime villains: it seemed you were expected to hiss every time Helen came on, and the evil female civil servant in this last series was so over the top I assume her purpose was to make viewers want to throw things at the screen.

But I persevered with it, partly because I enjoyed the various monsters of the week... but mostly on the assumption that eventually Cutter must return to his original universe.

When Cutter was murdered by Helen (boo, hiss!) I naively thought that because *this* Cutter had crossed over from a parallel universe, the Cutter who actually belonged in the current universe would still be alive in Cutter's original Series One universe, and this would be our cue to either switch back to the original universe (where this universe's Cutter would be bemusedly struggling with the lack of equipment and financial resources, not to mention his romantic relationship with a woman he's never met) or for the alternate Cutter to somehow make his way back to his own universe. (Perhaps accompanied by Claudia Brown, searching for her original Cutter?)

If *I'd* been writing the series, this latter scenario -- or something like it -- would probably have been the series finale. ;)

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Actually I think we need more pantomime villains (the only examples I can think of were in the original Wicker Man). I'd have loved to see your take on this series and it's finale though.

I got confused as to whether Cutter had crossed into an alternate universe or whether the act of releasing those baby future predators into the past (oops) or scheming by Helen (hiss!) had led to a timeline change which had passed Cutter by, presumably as he's so focussed generally.

sponzar said...

I've only watched a few episodes of this series. All I know is that effects are amazing for a TV series. I'm guessing this is the reason why it's not returning for a new season. I can't wait for the movie I read was being made.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Agree with you about the effects - perhaps the one aspect of this series that was consistently (rather than inconsistently) good, and following on from the studio's previous work on Walking With Dinosaurs. I'm curious about the film too but have some doubts about how it would work - unless Molly gets to write the script of course...