[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 7, "Babes In The Woods"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
Success! After six weeks of harping on about this show's use of the word "dinosaur" to describe everything that appears out of the anomalies, when only two dinosaurs have in fact appeared, this episode saw the reasonable shift I've been calling for. Dylan refers to the possibility of "creatures" multiple times, and after ironically identifying this episode's predator as a dinosaur, several characters continue to call it a "creature." Despite the scripts having been written some time ago, and the episodes filmed long before I wrote my first review of this series, I still feel I am entitled to take credit for this change, and will hobo-style fight anyone who cares to challenge me on that. Any takers? No, good, let's move on.

Because once again, the series has surprised me. Three weeks in a row, and the quality continues to, if not increase, at the least maintain the level of "watchable." Another episode like this, and it might even elevate itself to "anticipated." But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which have a history of doing unseemly things on the internet.

First the creature, a proper dinosaur known (and I use that term loosely) as Ornitholestes. A late Jurassic animal, it is described from only a single skeleton uncovered more then a century ago. Most of what is assumed about this creature is actually assumed based on other similar Genus. The creature in the episode had a pronounced (very pronounced, almost horn like) protrusion on the end of the snout, a feature that was common in early interpretations of the fossil, but has in the modern times been removed from the description. While it makes the animal look distinctive, it just wasn't the way things were. Otherwise, it was a lithe theropod, notable for it's long balancing tale and short limbs, which would have made running at great speeds, or over great distances next to impossible. And which the episode humourously handled by having the animal run out of breath while chasing the van. Science points for the quills reference though. There is a theory that some dinosaurs thought to have feathers might have had thicker, more keratin like growths. Unfortunately, Ornitholestes wasn't one of these creatures. It is assumed their coverage was of a finer, more fur like variety.

A couple weeks ago, I worried that an off-the-cuff revelation of bisexuality on the part of Toby might be too tempting for the producers to ignore in a fanservice sort of way, and the early moments of this episode confirmed my fears. The faux Suicide Girls served little purpose then to provide some early titillation and then disappear completely. And Toby's past is yet another example of a bisexual character being portrayed as more sexually experimental or at least cavalier, a stereotype that badly needs to disappear. Pairing that with the frat boy attitude of Mac, and it felt like far too much of the "jokes" were at the expense of maturity. That, and they ripped a modem joke off from a twenty year old episode of the Simpsons.

Happily, once the action moved into the woods, Toby's character got the back story and additional character depth that everyone else has received in recent weeks. I thought it odd that Cheekbones (yeah, didn't catch her name) continued to assume Mac and Toby were dating, considering none of their behaviour suggested it, and that no one seemed to want to correct her. I've known many lesbians in my time, and none of them were ever as suspicious of heterosexuals as Cheekbones was written here. At least the writing redeemed itself by the episode's finish, bring to characters to an emotional conclusion that didn't feel as forced as the rest of their relationship.

The rest of the episode worked, happily. The dialogue was believable, the banter witty and crackling, and sounded genuine, the sort that a group of friends would actually shoot back and forth. Nothing came off as melodramatic or insincere. Even Ange had a part to play, and interacted with others in a way that seemed human. I made up for her karate kicking the creature in the face during the showdown. I was especially happy with their treatment of her and Dylan, which didn't give way to petty jealously, at least until that final stupid moment of forlorn glances. Why was that there? There is nothing organically romantic between Cross and Dylan, and yet the producers seem to feel the need to force that storyline. Why not, I don't know, explore the new and dramatically rich relationship they've just introduced between Cross and Ange. Have them go out on one proper date before you have them start pining over others. Show a bit of patience.

My favourite line of the episode goes to Mac, who despite spending the rest of the episode as a goof and a letch, very dryly and seriously described anomalies as "deadlier then they look" or something to that effect. The writing and the acting worked perfectly in that moment, a reminder that he has suffered and continues to suffer from a tragic loss, but it hasn't consumed him. It was a flicker of personality that showed he is a growing character, and the events of the series have a lasting effect. I feel like the show is finally maturing.

The effects were top notch, best they've done so far, for the most part. The chase through the woods, as Ange encounters her first prehistoric predator, was especially well done. Despite getting the design of the dinosaur wrong, it looked more real then anything else the past has belched out at them. Which was hilariously countered by the worst effect they've done so far in the series, on of all things a bear. The bear scene was laughable, and completely removed me from the episode. Why wouldn't they sacrifice that awkward minute once they had the finished product in front of them, and realised how terrible it looked? Or recut it so that it wasn't so... just horrible looking.
The episodes remain far from perfect, with acting ability still an issue in some quarters, and some of the dialogue, like the technobabble that opened the episode, would sound hollow and stilted even if Ian McKellen were saying it. And plot holes still shine through, like why the first dinosaur dropped like a stone when getting hit by the taser dart, but the second took two hits and remained on it's feet. Or why they spent time convincing Mac to help them move the unconscious animal, only to abandon that plot line in the very next scene. Or why anything in the early minutes of the episode was able to pass the editing stage and actually make it on screen. But the cracks are showing less and less.

But please, no more bears.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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