Thursday, 20 January 2011

Primeval: S04E04

Sorry for the late update, I've been incredibly distracted by personal issues this last week or so.

Episode 4 of the fourth series of Primeval finally had me interested again. After the previous episode I was worried that there might be no hope for this programme at all but I love being proved wrong. There was a plot. There was several story strands that worked well. There was mild peril. There was character development. And there was less poor use of CGI (except for a couple of poorly edited reused shots).

I'm intrigued by Matt now, whereas before I was just annoyed by him. What is his backstory? When asked about school he suggested he didn't remember it. Is this a lie? Is he from a different time? Is that why he is so friendly towards Emily?

I want to know. I'm interested. Finally Primeval! FINALLY!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Primeval: S04E03

Talk about a mixed bag. This episode, "Tree Creepers" showed  us everything that can be good about the concept of the show. But it also showed us everything that can be bad about it's implementation. 

The A-plot was regarding 3 time travellers who appear through an anomaly in a theatre, followed by two rather nasty arboreal reptiles. The B-plot has Connor stuck back at base working on a security system that accidentally locks down the entire ARC. 

The good points: The time travellers (up to 15 of them supposedly) are an interesting addition to the show and something that appears, hopefully, to be adding a bit more depth to the usual "monster of the week" run of the mill show. In fact the story continues into at least next episode which is excellent. 

Connor had plenty of screen time. 

And there were some interesting questions that'll make me come back next week:

Will Rex survive?

Why are the time travellers around? Are they lost or simply adventurers? 

What are Gideon and Matt up to? 

What is Burton's "New Dawn" programme? 

Now for the really bad points:

The CGI-human interaction is truly appalling. The fight scenes between Matt and a Tree Creeper was truly boring as at no point would my mind allow me to believe the Tree Creeper and Matt were even in the same room. Something has to be done to avoid too much reliance on CGI if they are unable to use it in a compelling way. 

Doctor Who expects us to suspend all belief of reality and accept the insane, illogical and stupid as real. That works because Doctor Who's that sort of show and it's built up our trust over many, many years. Primeval's writers have obviously watched the Doctor's mad cap solutions to things (Think nice thoughts!) and thought they could try the same on their show, and that no one would care. They are very wrong. Showing electricity moving up a pole as if it would be visible, or Rex's amazing recovery from unconscious to happy flying Rex in about 2 seconds are just too unbelievable. They take me out of the story and ruin it for me. I don't want to have to sit there, in a show about time-travel for heaven's sake, and think this is just totally unrealistic. 

And it's not just in the technical, nit-picking aspects that this "unreal" feeling permeates through the show. The human reactions to situations don't ring true. Burton is dying in a room without oxygen. Connor is working on a solution. Connor seems unconcerned, slow, unhurried, and relaxed. It's jarringly awful writing. I wanted to see urgency, fear and focus. I wanted tension. The most tense I felt was as to whether or not Rex would survive and even that was ruined by his super quick recovery. When you're more concerned about whether a CGI flying lizard might survive than one of the more compelling characters (Burton), then you know something is up. 

The reason I stopped watching Primeval during series 3 was because it had an excellent concept that was being handled extremely badly. This show has a really great potential but it's now series 4 and I just don't see it being realised. I'll persevere but only because I hope for better.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Primeval: S04E02

The second episode of series 4 was a vast improvement over the first. Whilst both are still run of the mill monster of the week episodes, the second episode had a heart. There were jokes, Lester, Abby and Connor actually acted like themselves and there were more hints of what Gideon (the old man who keeps talking to Matt) is up to. And with Connor's friend from the dodo episode returning and our first look at Rex and his new home in the menagerie, we had a good sense of the highlights of earlier series.

Plus Kaprosuchus was this weeks monster. How anyone can not go "Whoop" at that, I don't know!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Primeval: S04E01

I've been looking forward to the return of Primeval for some time. It's a bit bizarre, given the fact that I gave up on series 3 halfway through and promised myself never to watch the show again.

So I sat down to watch the first episode of the fourth season with my expectations raised extremely highly and thus I was disappointed.

The problem with the show had been that it was becoming ever more a "monster of the week" show. That was forgiveable at the start, but I'd hoped to see a thread of a story going through each episode. The Helen Cutter stuff just didn't do it for me. Thus when this first episode turned out to be little more than just another monster of the week story (it's a Spinosaurus, which sort of makes up for it!) I was crushed.

However, I'm being unfair. The acting was better than usual. If we forget the massive plot holes (good to see somethings never change), the story was alright as a set up. The end showing Matt Anderson talking to some old fellow, and the possible dynamics of Philip Burton's relationship with the ARC leave me hopeful there might be something more to come.

So yes I was disappointed. I shall lower my expectations for tonight's episode accordingly and cross my fingers for improvement.