REVIEW: Primeval (BBC America – Tuesday, 8:00 p.m.)

When rips in time called anomalies started opening across the UK, dangerous creatures from the past and future began appearing in the most unexpected places, endangering lives and placing the whole of humanity at risk.

A crack team of specialists were appointed by the government to investigate and control “creature incursions,” creating the Anomaly Research Center (ARC), which was later privatized. Matt, Abby, Connor and Becker do the field work while Jess mans the ARC control station under the leadership of government official James Lester and the mysterious scientist, Philip Burton.

From creators Tim Haines (“Walking with Dinosaurs”) and Adrian Hodges (“My Week With Marilyn”), Season 5 sees dark secrets bubble to the surface, testing relationships to the limit. As anomalies become more numerous, unpredictable and dangerous than ever before, the end of the world seems to be just around the corner… will the team be able to stop the approaching apocalypse before it’s too late? – BBC America

80 out of 100

Primeval is a science fiction television show from the BBC that premiered in 2007, has spent time on SyFy and is now on BBC America in the U.S. It  recently has wrapped up its fifth season (or series, for our British friends) and we had the pleasure of watching the last two seasons which only consists of six to seven episodes each, making it an easy commitment.

Douglas Henshall plays the leader (replaced in seasons four and five by Ciaran McMenamin) of a secret military/scientific group that investigates “anomalies” that keep occurring around modern day London that link the past and future to the present. It usually ends up with prehistoric creatures coming through these anomalies and wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting masses. The rest of the team played by Andrew Lee Potts, Hannah Spearritt and Ben Mansfield help to wrangle up these creatures and get them back to the anomalies and save the public. Ben Miller wonderfully plays the ever serious and stiff Mr. Lester who has to rein the group in in order to protect them from themselves.

Season four introduces Alexander Siddig (who SciFi fans will remember as Dr. Julian Bashir, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as a shady Mutli-Millionaire with a strange agenda involving the anomalies and the future of mankind.

The show is smart, well thought-out and just plain fun. It never relies on pretense and delivers exactly what it promises. Dinosaurs (sometimes done with shoddy but serviceable CGI) come out of the anomaly, an alarm goes off at “The ARC,” the team heads out and has to square off with t-rexes, velociraptors, aquatic monsters and various other beasties. It’s fast and furious SciFi action that is surprising and even a bit tongue-in-cheek.

The characters are all dynamic and they all play off of each other very well, especially Spearritt and Potts, who by season four and five have fallen into a groove of sorts. They end up caring and loving each other even though at times when trouble arises they often butt heads. Their exchanges are funny and endearing at times. Potts is the awkward computer geek and Spearritt is the animal loving pacifist who cares for the prehistoric creatures that come through. Henshall’s character, Nic Cutter, is replaced mid-season three by the always fun to watch Jason Flemyng (Clash of the Titans, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Danny Quinn who takes over the ARC team but gets stranded in the past. Ciaran McMenamin joins the cast as the leader, Matt, but he, as well, has secrets he’s keeping close to the vest concerning the fate of modern London and the ARC. McMenamin is a bit stiff at times and has only two facial expressions. He doesn’t fare well as an intriguing part of the cast but he is very physical and gung-ho during the action scenes.

Primeval serves as a well above-average SciFi series. One of the great aspects of the show that  really makes it work where your typical hour long procedural often fails is that it’s not always tidy and often, things do not go as planned for our heroes. Also, like a lot of the best shows, the audience becomes aware very quickly that anyone at any time could be killed-off, i.e., there isn’t the  predictable “Redshirt” factor that’s on every other show.

Ben Miller, Mansfield, Spearritt and Lee Potts are what propel this imaginative little series into a memorable bit of humorous schtick. Yes, at times it has, putting it kindly, iffy-looking CGI beasts and some corny SciFi dialog like, “The Mammoth is charging the freeway!” and countless B-Movie scenes of people running from monsters while they scream at the top of their lungs, however, but, despite the obvious corn factor, the show maintains a very high level of entertainment value. The characters and the stories are well fleshed-out despite some episodes suffering from the “Monster of the Week” vs. “The Anthology Plot” problem. Primeval prevails as a quick fix for fans of Dino-Monsters, conspiracies, time travel and ex-Star Trek actors looking for work. We recommend the show for it’s quirky British spirit.

Enjoy, fellow geeks.

4 comments on “REVIEW: Primeval (BBC America – Tuesday, 8:00 p.m.)

  1. Love this show also, was particular happy when I heard Siddig was joining the show since I’m a huge DS9 fan. Still hoping we get a sixth season and I anxiously awaiting the new Primeval series called Primeval : New World, although been a long time since I heard anything about that.
    Keeping our fingers crossed!

    • Hey, Marcel! Good to see you again! Yeah, I don’t even watch the show yet but between the fact that Siddig is on it and that you never know which character is going to survive from week-to-week, that’s a good enough reason for me to start. Thanks to my writer Vic De Leon for this one!

  2. Thanks so much for reading, Marcel. I am a huge DS9 fan myself and Sidding was a wonderful addition to the show. I am eagerly awaiting a new season as well as Primeval – new World!

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