Review: Primeval 2×4


Ah, ITV. How dearly it loves to imitate the Beeb. That goes right down to the scheduling, including messing around with the timings of its Saturday night shows. How many times am I going to have to use the mighty power of the Internet to catch up with Primeval because I’ve missed the first 15 minutes again?

Anyway, it must be fabulous being a professor of “dinosaurs and things” in the brave new world of Primeval. You get to run around with a sub-machine gun with an ever-lasting supply of bullets, shooting at stuff. You get to look at dead animals and rather than say “my, I’ve not seen something like this in the fossil record before. There are so many marvellous new discoveries coming out of the Gansu Province of China these days, aren’t there?”, you can firmly pronounce them the future of shark evolution without the slightest shred of evidence. You get to act like a dopey teenager around the ladies. And you never, ever have to use a comb.

Plot (what all plots will evolve into in millions of years’ time)

Connor’s anomaly detector begins to prove its worth when Cutter and his team arrive, in good time, at the scene of another creature appearance.

A highly unusual shark, with a giant proboscis, has attacked a party boat. Cutter is convinced that the creature’s physical appearance is the result of evolution and that, rather than coming from the past, the team is facing a species from the future.

When another creature attack occurs on the other side of town, the team is divided on how to react. The more they go their separate ways, the more danger they face.

All is not well in the team, and suspicions are rife. Ironically, the person they least suspect – Leek – has the most to hide.

Was it any good?

Well, if Torchwood can embrace its inner silliness, so can Primeval. This was probably the series’ silliest episode so far. We have Lego Girl jump kicking to twice her own height – on watery concrete no less – a giant mutant walrus. Ben “Spreading Himself a Bit Thin Of Late” Miller finally puts in a proper appearance this series, but as a giant mutant ham, albeit an amusing one. Helen Cutter, erstwhile nut and Xena wannabe, has apparently gone through the anomaly and rewritten history so many times, she’s turned into a Bond villain.

Stephen the Man Mountain demonstrates just how mountainous he is by swimming underwater, fully clothed, shoes still on, for about a mile with a machine rifle strapped to his back, before instantly shooting the heck out of some more of those walruses. And Dougie reveals that a weedy, sulky Scottish professor of dinosaurs and things will easily get his arse kicked if he tries to take on a commando disguised as a… well, a commando.

Which wasn’t to say it was bad: indeed, I prefer silly over dull. It certainly helps to move the action over the dismal Lego Girl/Twat Boy romance, something that should have played itself out five episodes ago, if it weren’t for the standard plotting decision of The Primeval PTB (TPTB) that all romances must reach a cliffhanger by the end of the season, ready to be resolved back under the carpet in the next season, rather than at a normal pace.

Incidentally, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried holding someone by one hand while they dangle over a slippery cliff edge, but let me tell you, it really isn’t as easy as Primeval tries to make it look, I can say, even if you’re trying to hold someone made out of plastic.

The densest covert unit this side of Cardiff has still failed to spot the numerous spies in its midst, which again makes it a tad more watchable. What’s going to happen? What’s it all for? What does Helen Cutter really want? Does she have an undersea volcano base? We’re intrigued, particularly by more hints at her revived attempts to conquer Everest naked in the trailer next week. Will granite man succumb, after this week’s latest massive blow to his ego (you could tell he was upset – I believe one of his upper ridges moved)? Ooh, something to look forward to.

But all the same, don’t they have any training there? Mysterious hot woman befriends you – you have her checked out by MI5. You don’t bring her home to meet your prehistoric pet. As Supernatural recently asked, why is it the bunny that always has to suffer at the hands of stalkers? Poor things. Okay, it’s a CGI dinosaur, but all the same.

More to the point, back in the realm of the adults, can’t Dougie finally take out his photo and explain why he keeps calling Jenny Claudia, rather than coming off as a complete mental case? You’re a man, Dougie, God damn it! Get your act together. If you can shoot walruses, you can tell her how you feel!

It’s a fact that should be known by all professors of dinosaurs and things.

Last complaint: so we finally have a black character in Primeval, but she turns out to be a spy. Now we have an incidental black character and he has to be the first one to get attacked, before being rescued by Team Primeval aka “The White Force” – and you have to play “the music of the street” when he appears? Seriously, dudes, did you miss the ITV conscious-raising seminars every week while you were writing this?

All in all though, fun, daft, with the occasional hint of intelligence. Primeval in a nutshell.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts