Review – Primeval: Series 4 Episode 1

cross posted at Simply Television


Tune in to Primeval – airing Saturdays, 9/8C on BBCAmerica.
Visit the show website for more Cast, Character information, Recaps and Online Exclusives.


Primeval returns to tv on January 1 in the UK (ITV) AND in the US. (BBCAmerica). This review is chock full of spoilers, so don’t read until you’ve watched. Americans, be advised that the UK refers to “seasons” as “series.” Thanks to Simply Television for sharing this review with Good To Be A Geek!

Welcome back, Primeval. While still not recapturing the magic of series 1, this new series has improved on the effects enormously, and has added new cast members and a new ongoing mystery to the mix to revive the show that had been left to die, along with three major characters, at the end of series 3.

Whether through wisdom or availability, the characters who return to this series are the most well-equipped to bring back some of the excellence of series one. First, though, a memorial for the lost crew members. I will never forgive whoever decided that Cutter should die, because he was the heart of the group, and the show never regained its intensity once he was gone. Steven was also a wonderful member of the crew, very Race Bannon for you Jonny Quest fans, but at least his heroic death was well-managed. Helen was creepy and had a better story line in series one than she was saddled with after, particularly once she killed her former husband. Claudia was wonderful, Jenny was a loser but was coming along, pity she was the same person. I never cared too much about Danny Quinn or Sarah Page, so their absence isn’t a problem for me at all.

Now for the returnees. Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearritt) is lovely (though I’m hoping her hair goes short again), smart, knowledgeable about animals, capable, brave, and plucky. Connor Temple (Andrew Lee Potts) is also attractive, relatively smart, and in the first half of this episode is brave but not silly. Silly worked well when he was new, and even throughout series two and three, but after spending a year in the Cretaceous Era had become more serious while not losing his energy and enthusiasm.

I was SO sorry to see the return of silliness in the second half of this episode, which actually began when they didn’t IMMEDIATELY run into the newly-opened anomaly. It truly ruined the whole tone and momentum of the Connor/Abby storyline for me. That was redeemed somewhat by their outrage at being told that they would no longer be working the “front lines” of the anomalies, and their lovely scene outside the company apartment. I was really glad that they resolved the question of whether or not Connor and Abby were a couple by his look to the empty space next to him in bed, and their kiss outside. They each have a lot to offer the show, and I hope the plan is to keep them on.

I’m glad they kept James Lester (Ben Miller) on as the manager of the ARC. He is a great snarky bureaucrat with a history that spans the series, necessary in my view. Likewise the dishy Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield) was necessary not only because he was a good representative of the soldier faction of the team, but because he had first-hand knowledge (and self-imposed guilt) about the disappearance of Connor, Abby, and Danny.

As for the new cast members, hmm… I like Matt Anderson (Ciaran McMenamin) as the not-overplayed new head of the team, and I’m pleased that the new mystery involves him, always good to involve the main character. Likewise New Mysterious Man looks nicely intellectual, making us wonder if he is working for good, evil, or something in between. Phillip Burton (Alexander Siddig, nice to see back on Earth from Star Trek DS9) may prove to do well as the billionaire geek and potentially overbearing co-sponsor of the ARC, and it will be interesting to see if he has a hidden agenda. Finally, my least favorite new character, Jess Parker (Ruth Kearney). Irritating as the overeager techie, if they would allow her to play the part seriously, she could be an asset.

Other than the despised dino-capture segment (though the effects were brilliant) and the sometimes-clunky dialog (“You need to remember how many friends I’ve lost!”), this premiere gives me hope that this show will return to its glory days of series one.

Favorite line: “It’s a beautiful world, Matthew, but for how much longer?”