I really enjoyed the first three seasons of Primeval,
the third where the show really hit its stride.
So I was naturally giddy with anticipation
when Primeval Volume Three - Season
Four and Five, was announced and on Blu-ray
no less! Unfortunately my excitement
soon faded as I made my way through the 13 episodes.
What was once a gutsy and daring show that
wasn't afraid to kill off main characters and really explore that
of time travel quickly devolved into a monster-of-the-week show, and
not a very
good one at that.
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 time:
Two-way doorways which allow dinosaurs and
prehistoric monsters to enter our world with often deadly results.
These anomalies are tracked, and the 'incursions' by
dinosaurs controlled by, the Anomaly Research
or ARC for short. Two of the main
operatives for the ARC are the geeky but intelligent Connor Temple
(Andrew Lee Potts) and zoo worker turned dinosaur expert Abby Maitland
Spearritt), who are trapped in the past at the end of season three. That leaves Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield)
still with the ARC which is run by civil servant James Lester (Ben
Miller). To fill in the missing members,
the mysterious Matt Anderson (Ciarán McMenamin) joins the ARC as new
leader and Jess Parker (Ruth Kearney) is brought on as the team
As season four opens a year has passed since the events at
the end of season three trapped Connor and Abby in the far past. The pair of time-lost adventurers are having
a hard time staying alive in the Cretaceous Period.
They've had to rely on each other and grown
very close, but they're also at the end of their rope and it's only a
time before some creature devours them.
Luckily they discover a device, albeit broken, that can open
anomalies, fix it while running from a Spinosaur, and manage to leap
back to 21st
Century London. There they discover that the ARC has
rebuilt and upgraded with the latest technology. This
is because it's now a join
government/private enterprise endeavor with the capital coming from
genius entrepreneur Philip Burton (Alexander Siddig).
Having put a lot of his company's money into
the project, he has a lot of say in what goes on, and that doesn't
well with Abby. Connor, on the other hand,
has admired Burton
for years and is amazed when his idol asks him to help with some top
research into anomalies. Even though he
has to keep it a secret from everyone, including Abby.
These two seasons are mainly stand alone creature-of-the-week
shows, where some dinosaur will come through an anomaly and the team
to push it back through. There are a few
competing subplots that make the show a bit more interesting however. Aside from Burton's secret research into the
anomalies, a big mystery is just who Matt is and what he's doing at the
ARC. He has clandestine meetings with an
old man who cautions him not to get close to anyone and warns him about
disaster with anomalies that will soon take place.
Just how does he know this, and what is Matt
supposed to be looking for?
While these subplots help propel the series, it's a pale
shadow of what it was in earlier seasons.
Instead of really pushing the boundaries of TV SF as it has in
the show has become pedestrian. At the
end of season one, for example, the main character changed some things
past and when he went back to the 21st Century everything
was different. He had changed the course
of history, and it
was a permanent change. While that's a
common theme in written SF, it's very rare in SF made for the small
screen. By contrast, when the past is
changed in these seasons, there are no ramifications at all.
What's worse is that this set of shows falls back to
standard TV fare. Matt's big secret is
mysterious, but ultimately the fact that it's a secret is incredibly
stupid. If he would have revealed
everything from the beginning he would have made everyone's life much
and there was absolutely no reason for him not to have let the members
ARC in on it. When all was said and
done, that whole subplot made no sense at all.
Then there's the way that dinosaurs act. They'll
eat and kill anyone who is not a main
character, but when the corner someone who gets their name in the
credits they snarl
and growl for a long time, until, deus ex machina-like, an unseen
can arrive just in the nick of time.
They took this to ludicrous extremes at times.
In one scene a woman's ankle is shackled to a
pole and a large, angry, prehistoric avian creature attack her. Instead of actually biting her it stand in
front of the woman while she hits it over and over again with a wooden
until it's knocked unconscious. It never
once attacked! A T-Rex gets hit in the
leg by a speeding SUV, gets up, and then runs at the driver (now out of
vehicle). Instead of biting his head off
it roars in the drivers face a few times while the man repeatedly
dinosaur in the face with a taser-like gun.
No wonder the dinosaurs went extinct... they wouldn't fight back
The creators went so far as to even get rid of the great
cliff-hangers that capped off the earlier seasons.
This time around they are very lame. They're
so unsuspenseful that I didn't even
realize that I had finished season four until I was part way through
The 13 episodes that make up seasons four and five come on four
Blu-ray discs that are housed in a fold out book.
This is housed in a nice slipcase.
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 1080i image is fine, though it's not
extraordinary. It is a step up from the
SD DVDs that the earlier seasons were released on, with the colors
brighter and the lines tighter. There is
some aliasing in several scenes, mainly when they're panning across a
cityscape, where diagonal lines will have a stair-step effect and
slightly. The special effects looked
better this time around too, which I was a bit surprised to see. I expected the HD format to make the flaws
even more evident. When all is said and
done this is a solid looking TV show.
Just not reference quality.
This set is pretty light on the extras. There
are a series of five short webisodes on
disc two that serve to fill in what was going on at the ARC during the
that passed between seasons three and four, which are enjoyable but
more effective if they were at the beginning of the first disc. All of the events that transpire in these
webisodes is mentioned in the regular series, so watching it afterwards
did) is a bit anticlimactic. There's
also a two part making-of featurette that's about average.
This show has jumped the shark. It's still
enjoyable to watch, but when I was
at the end of the set I felt let down rather than eager for the next
season. Fans of the previous seasons
should check it out, but only with lowered expectations.
This would make a good rental.