[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Finale, Episode 13, "Sound Of Thunder Part 2"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
First off, what was the matter Primeval: New World, couldn't find a beefeater costume to shove into the above bit of cliche? Considering that the show originated in the UK, such an artificial and stupid piece of "we've only ever seen England in American movies" is yet another piece of the lazy pie.

I'm going to admit that I stopped watching the original Primeval before it ended. I enjoyed the first few years for what they were, appreciated some new and clever ideas they had, and thought it was an excellent excuse to get up to some Jurassic Park style antics, while also opening the field to other prehistoric creatures. And I liked the eventual shift to a mystery involving original creatures from a terrible future, something the spin-off completely avoided. However, it eventually got buried under it's own mythology, adding layer after layer, and character after character that were more confusing or disengaging then the last. So I have no idea how the British series ended. Not that it mattered much. It's just that, as in his pointless cameo in the first episode, the appearance of Conner Temple here would be confusing to anyone who had never seen the original series, especially since this series seemed completely unwilling to actually explain him. I suppose they were expecting viewers to Google him afterwards.

Nothing like a series that gives you homework (damn, I think I've used that joke before).

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once had tea with the most important Allosaurus in the universe. His name was Luke, and he enjoyed long walks on the beach, and restructuring all of space and time.

Last week, sad and despondent, I took a stab at guessing how this week would unfold. So, since there wasn't a creature we haven't covered before this week, lets see how I did. First of all, I did not anticipate Conner Temple, nor did I expect him to have such a large role in the episode. He didn't really do anything, but Andrew Lee Potts, good material or not, knows the character, and knows how to have fun with him. He was a welcome sight, and far better used then his original appearance 13 episodes ago. Cross did not spend the episode sulking in front of an anomaly, trying to decide whether to save his wife or not. Instead, he sulked surrounded by SG officers, insistent that his wife must be eaten, which was a rather brisk turn around from last week, and goes to show the kind of perspective you can get from spending a few minutes trapped in a cave with a pissed off arachnid.

However, Dylan was able to get the tail back, and the medical staff were able to synthesise an anti-venom, bring Toby out of the medically induced coma they had put her in, and had her back up and running within three hours of her getting stung. Fastest coma-to-advanced-programming turn around ever; yay socialised Canadian medicine!

The military did, in fact, invade time based on Leed's reveal of the time field, and bad things very nearly happened because of it. I guess, in terms of the insurance claim the owner of that gas bar was going to have to submit, bad things did happen. But the worst we got was an extended slow motion sequence, slow motion that wasn't used for anything other then padding out what must have been a short running episode. Oh, and Col. Young is probably dead after getting head butted into a delivery truck. So, boo.

And there was a cliffhanger of sorts, but it wasn't either of the cliffhangers that I was expecting (in that, it could have doubled two of the original series' endings). One, they'd step through the anomaly and everything would be screwed up. Or two, the anomaly would close moments before they stepped through, stranding them in the empty time field. Instead, they went with the completely drama-less ending of cutting it off as they are stepping through, literally mid step.

But that wasn't the worst thing about the ending. I mentioned last week the completely inconsistent way the show has presented the effect of time travel. The original series was very clear: every little thing that is done in the past has huge consequences down the line. Time can change, and does, on a regular basis. This show seemed to want the best of both worlds: the looming threat of tearing time apart, and maintain the stable time loops that make for more clever and thought-necessary television.

So, they have the perfect set up for the latter. Toby repairs the timey-whimey detector. Conner is there, and has a heart to heart with Mac, telling him the exact same things Cross and Toby told him half a dozen episodes ago, but apparently hearing it from this stranger really made it sink in. But they have repeated references to Mac having worn that jacket (there was subtext people, though maybe not intentionally). Then, they have Mac, Dylan and Cross all chase after the Albertosaurus, minutes after Conner had disappeared. Would it have been so hard to put the detector in Mac's hand, contrive a reason for Conner to leave his jacket behind, and Mac to put it on? If you're going to go to all the trouble of setting up the inevitable, and let me be clear, it was obvious from the time of Mac's best friend confession that this would be how things ended, why only go in by halves? All the elements were in play, they just had to be put together.

There was one moment in this episode I thought worked, I thought was a tiny bit self referential, and showed a glimmer of what the series had in it, but never embraced. That was after Mac's sacrifice, when Cross breaks down in front of the anomaly, knowing that on the other side, two people he cared about greatly were dying, and he had no power to stop it. And then all of that swell of emotion is undercut with a well timed "shit," as the dinosaur comes barrelling out. I love me a good bit of mood whiplash, and that was a fun one. Two actually, because without hesitation, he grabs a machine gun (from where?) and ends the damned thing once and for all, killing what I guess was the Albertosaurus Time Lord, considering how quickly the time sphincters all clenched shut after it died.

Now it's done, it's over, and we don't have to watch it anymore. Now we ask, does it deserve a second season? No, absolutely not. This was bad. This was bad from the start, with the occasional moment of not-quite-as-bad, and maybe one really very well done statistical aberration. If it comes back, it needs a from-the-ground-up retooling. Which is to say, it'd be cheaper and easier to bury this in soft peat and forget it ever existed (Soft Pete, incidently, is the name I dance under). I was excited about it, looked forward to it, and was disappointed at every turn. I know some of you were too. This was not good television.

But could it have been? I think so. I think the premise had promise, as the original did. I think with character tweaks, and less formulaic plots, and a clearly defined bible of motivations, causes, effects and the basic mechanics of the world, this could have been made passable. And nothing breeds imagination in me faster then disappointment. So, to all you who have dropped by week after week to read these reviews, I hope you stick around. We have fun round these parts. I do anyway. At the very least, I sadistically force myself to watch bad TV, and then bitch about it a few days later. That's always fun. If all you were interested in was Primeval, then I hope you enjoyed it (or these reviews, but I doubt both together), or didn't claw your eyes out.

And I hope you'll stop by this Friday, when I'll try to break the series down, and reassemble it into something that might not have been such a waste of time.
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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.

2 comments :

  1. I didn't share your disappointment (although, granted, I'm not familiar with the previous series, and, in fact, up until reading the aforementioned, was unaware of its existence). And while I agree with some of what you said (about the tightening of the narrative, etc.), I still found this to have been a damn exciting, and fun, finale.

    A damn fun series, in fact.

    It was never a masterpiece, true. But I, for one, do not share your rather scathing sentiments, and not merely because tv-dinosaur-beggars-can't-be-choosers (with this being the only one of its kind out there), but even just on its own merits, I have had some fun with season one of this series.

    And, in fact, I'm confounded that the absence of a second season would come as a relief for you (I mean, either way you have the luxury of not watching). Whereas I, on the other hand, am actually looking forward to season two, and will be rather disappointed if it doesn't come to past(-future).

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  2. And plenty of others I've read share your feelings. I think what put me off the most was the inconsistancy of the writing, which the more I think about it was probably down to a lack of editorial control behind the scenes. The series had many impressive elements, the special effects (considering it was a comparatively little Canadian show) were almost always surprisingly good (the bear not withstanding), and the show had great pedigree behind the scenes, which I often lauded. And there were a couple well made episodes. I thought it just never came together in a totally effective way. And the longer that went on, with little (as I saw it) or no improvement, it bothered me more and more.

    As for the second season, because of my slightly obessive natural (and a burrowing curiosity to see if it ever would improve), I'd force myself to watch it - for a time, anyway. I did give up on the British series, it only took me four out of five years. And if it did improve, I'd be happy. For it, and myself, and all the other viewers. I'd just rather have a dinosaur-and-all-other-extinct-creatures show that was worth watching for a reason other then it's the only one on offer.

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