Primeval is more science fiction thriller fare from BBC America. The real stars of the show are the creatures created for it, particularly Rex, the adorable flying lizard thingie-ma-bob. The series comes from the fine folks who created Walking with Dinosaurs. Walking with Dinosaurs was a documentary about prehistoric animals which presented the film more like something you’d see in a modern nature film, rather than like a history show. Walking with Dinosaurs won a whole passel of awards, including a bunch of Emmies (Emmys?), mostly of course for the impressive visual effects. Walking with Dinosaurs is now touring the USA as a live show with giant in-person dinosaurs and I’m really bummed I missed it when it came through Los Angeles. On Primeval, it is also fun to watch the behind the scenes bits about how they do the effects with a combination of animatronics, cg, and really cutting edge new technology.
With Primeval, the FX team brings their considerable talents to a show with more of a storyline presentation. When first we meet our heroes, biology history Professor Nick Cutter played by Douglas Henshall, and his pretty boy badass hunter assistant Steven played by James Murray, are going about their academic lives, although Nick is haunted by his dead wife Helen and her research into oddities, including a fish, thought prehistorically extinct, which appeared in a modern body of water. Turns out Helen is not so dead after all. She is ably played by Juliet Aubrey and has just spent the past eight years time-traveling without a lot of concern for her husband’s feelings. But, after all that time, she felt like getting laid by someone who understood what was so cool about time travel, from a research perspective. I was a little surprised, as I’d assumed Nick was boning Steven, but I could roll with it. They add in Connor, one of Nick’s students, played by Andrew Lee Potts, and the show becomes more fun, as Connor and his friends are really plausible fen. They are smart and fun in their own way, have huge geek knowledge on selected topics, usefully in Connor’s case on prehistoric zoology, but they are a wreck around girls. Then we’ve got Abby, the cute punky reptile specialist who makes the cute Rex into a pet. Entertainingly, Abby is played by Hannah Spearritt from UK coed Spice Girls style band Sclub7.
Season 1 and Season 2 of Primeval are available on DVD now. I’m fixing to watch the season finale I TiVoed, as soon as I finish writing this. I admit that part way through, it was like the actors all decided they wanted to look more movie star-like. So pacifist animal and monster savior Nick starts toting guns, Connor gets a Fallout Boy makeover, Helen gets a butch haircut and starts showing off a lot more cleavage and a lot more crazy, Steven goes from being fearless white hunter to over-the-top A-Team steely-blue gaze action hero, and the useless bureaucrat character gets all high fashion as a useless publicist character. Apparently messing with time makes people’s fashion sense improve. Although I like pretty things as well as anyone, I feel like actors who are excessively concerned with looking hot are inadequately dedicated to their craft. Nonetheless, the makeovers are at least nominally explained by the time anomalies and nothing is as egregious as the designer duds and please-pass-the-steroids on Heroes. Primeval is not edge-of-your-seat, change-your-life television in the first place. Primeval is a bit of dependable entertainment with some really great creature effects and a moderately appealing cast.
The only one who doesn’t seem to change a bit from all the time portal anomalies and all the television exposure is Ben Miller’s Lester the head bureaucrat. He is delightfully sarcastic and hilarious and dresses in awfully expensive suits for a government man from day one. Fun factoid to know and share: Of the entire cast, all the scientists are played by actors. Only the bemused Director of Time Traveling Dinosaur Containment, or whatever Lester’s title is, is actually a scientist as well. Ben Miller was writing his thesis on Novel Quantum Effects In Quasi-Zero Dimensional Mesoscopic Electrical Systems, when he decided he would rather be on stage and screen instead. I’m not sure what Novel Quantum Effects In Quasi-Zero Dimensional Mesoscopic Electrical Systems are, but they almost sound like dimensional portals which would facilitate time travel and entertaining television.