I've been anxiously awaiting the third season of to turn
up on DVD and now that wait is finally over. The
first two seasons were released together as Volume One, and though it's
slightly confusing Volume Two of the show contains the entire third
season. Oddly named or not, this set of
shows is even
more engaging than the first volume. In
this season the show
expands, bringing in new characters, killing off old ones
(including some in lead roles), bringing in new protagonists and
what is happening with the anomalies.
This show just keeps getting better with age.
The world has changed, only most people don't know it.
All of a sudden, without explanation,
"anomalies" have started to appear throughout England.
Looking like a shiny moving circle of broken
crystals, these anomalies are actually doorways into the past. Two-way doorways which allow dinosaurs and
prehistoric monsters to enter our world with often deadly results.
The first of these anomalies is discovered by Nick Cutter
(Douglas Henshall), a biologist, and one of his students, the geeky but
Temple (Andrew Lee
Potts). Soon a local zoo worker, Abby
Maitland (Hannah Spearritt), also stumbles upon the anomaly while
a supposedly extinct lizard a boy had found, as well as Claudia Brown
Brown), a low-level government official who was sent out to investigate
Cutter is especially interested in the anomaly since his
wife, Helen (Juliet Aubrey), had disappeared in the area eight years
investigating some odd sightings. Her
body was never found, but maybe this is the answer to what happened to
As it turns out, yes she did find an anomaly and has been
living in the distant past all these years. She's
been studying the dinosaurs and the
gateways and now knows much, much, more than anyone else about them. She's not willing to share however, and seems
to have a plan of her own.
At the end of season one, Cutter is has a battle in the past
where several dinosaurs and humans are killed.
When he arrives back at his own time, he discovers that reality
changed. Their efforts at dinosaur
hunting now have the full backing of the government but Claudia is no
the person he knew. She's now a PR agent
who has never met Cutter before.
Obviously there are significant ramifications when a prehistoric
dies when it's not supposed to.
As the show opens the team is still reeling from the death
of one of their members, Stephen Hart (James Murray), at the end of
two. While Stephen is replaced by a
soldier, Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield), they still feel the loss and
starts to wonder if they're actually making any progress.
To further that end he starts working on a theory to predict
where the next anomaly will occur, and to start he creates a three
model of the past anomalies, where they appeared, and where it was that
opened in the past.
To help him with this project he recruits an Egyptologist
who had a run in with some prehistoric baddies, Sarah Page (Laila
Rauass). One of the problems that the team
at the ARC
(Anomaly research Center) faces is that the anomalies don't only lead
prehistoric past, but they open up to the future too, one where
been exterminated by vicious predators.
This show has certainly evolved over the three short seasons
it has been on the air. It could have
easily been a 'monster of the week' show, with the team fighting a new
of dinosaur in each episodes but it's much more than that.
The mysteries about what Helen is up to, what
the competing government agency is doing and why, and just what
humanity really drive the show. The
characters are interesting but the seasons are so short (this one only
episodes) and frankly they die so quickly that the creators wisely
action and SF aspects of the show.
This is one of the very few series that isn't afraid to kill
off main characters in order to advance the plot. Not
red shirts either, but people who are
integral to the story. I really like
that since it really ratchets up the tension.
When someone is being chased by a hungry carnivore, you never
know if they'll escape or not. And kudos
for them not bringing anyone back via an alternate time line or
that. (There is one minor character that
keeps popping up and dying, but he's a lacky of the villain.)
The characters and situations that they find themselves in
are so enjoyable it's easy to overlook the fact that much of the show
bunch of hokum. There are a lot of plot
holes if you stop to think about it, and the group doesn't always think
through (why isn't everyone armed whenever they go to an anomaly,
when they are hunting for Helen near the end of the season?) Some of the events are down right stupid too
(Helen's grand plan for example). There's
so much action and adventure it's easy to not dwell on these minor
inconsistencies and just go with the flow.
But if you can overlook these events you'll find a great program.
A show like this succeeds or fails in a large part due to
the special effects. Created by the same
group that did the "Walk with..." series of dinosaur documentaries, the
creatures generally look pretty good.
Sometimes the CGI doesn't mesh perfectly with the surrounding,
dinosaurs 'feel' a little bit superimposed rather than part of the set
but the effects work more than they don't and especially in the
it's easy to suspend your disbelief.
The 10 episodes that make up season three come on three DVDs
that are housed in a fold out book.
This comes in a nice embossed slipcase.
The one thing they forgot to include anywhere on the packaging,
did with the first set,
is a list of
episodes. It's rather irritating when
you're not sure which disc to pop in to find the episode that comes
last one you watched.
The stereo audio track first the show well, thought it would
have been enhanced by a 5.1 mix. The
show is centers the dialog on the screen, but I couldn't help imagining
much more intense some of the dinosaur scenes would have been with a
surround mix. The voices are clean and
clear, though there are one or two times when it's hard to understand
word from a rapidly delivered speech due to the accents.
Luckily there are optional subtitles.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image isn't as crisp and tight as I
would have liked, though it does pretty good.
Being a recent show I was hoping the colors would have been a
brighter and the blacks just a tad darker, but these are more nit-picky
problems that any real flaw with the picture quality.
There is some digital noise in a couple of
scenes where the sky is predominant in the framing, and a little
again, these are minor problems. When
all is said and done this is a solid looking TV show on DVD. Just not reference quality.
There are two video extras included with this set.
First off is Cutter's Odyssey an 18-minute long
overview of Cutter and his
adventures in the series. Actor Douglas
Henshall reminisces about his tenure on the show discussing each season
mentioning his favorite episodes. This
was okay but Henshall spends a bit too much time explaining his
something that is pretty obvious if you've seen the show.
The other video bonus is Genesis
of a Creature 19-minute featurette that shows how one of the show's
creatures were created. This particular
monster was the result of a contest, won by 16-year old Carim Nahaboo. They follow Carim around as he tours the
special effects studio where the CGI effects are created and they also
visit to the set where a scene involving his creature is films. Following Carim aound was a nice touch and
made this a little different from the standard CGI effects story. The extras are wrapped up with an audio
commentary for the final episode in the season.
With an every growing set of conspiracies to deal with in
addition to fighting dinosaurs, this show has become a favorite of mine. It's a program that will keep you guessing
with some unexpected twist and the death of major characters. If you enjoy exciting SF adventure, than this
is a show to check out. Highly