PRIMEVAL Series 4 Episode 1 Review

primeval season 4

PRIMEVAL Series 4 Episode 1 – The Sci-Fi series is back after eighteen months away with a new team, new location and a premiere episode that falls a little flat.

When we last saw the ARC (Anomaly Research Centre) team, they were attempting to stop the series main villain, Helen Cutter, from killing the forefathers of mankind. They seemed to have succeeded, but after a year stuck in the Cretaceous period, Abby Maitland and Connor Temple are back in their own timeframe.

In their absence there have been a few changes. The ARC project is now semi-privatised and the new recruits to the team need to have a military background. In addition, Becker’s team have to use snazzy futuristic-looking taser-type weapons, and the ARC itself has been upgraded to a sleek, sexy design that reminds us at every turn that this show is science fiction. Because, you know, the living dinosaurs, anomalies and science didn’t quite get the point across.

As far as Primeval episodes go, this was a weak outing. The Abby/Connor scenes were tense as we waited to see when and how they would make it back home – and just what trouble would follow them, but the introduction of the new characters at the ARC was dull beyond belief.

We were greeted by Jess Parker, the new Field Coordinator who can’t even keep things straight in the Arc nevermind outside of it. So far she seems to be a glorified SatNav. In fact, the team could benefit from satellite navigation as that would save Jess from having to give them directions. Abby and Connor have only been gone for a year in-series, surely a SatNav speaking to them wouldn’t be seen as a completely alien concept.

This isn’t my only complaint about Jess, although it seems unfair to pick on her after only one episode. Regardless, what exactly is the thinking behind this character? She’s very young (only 19, according to the official website), but overlooking that, her dress sense leaves me baffled. I know she’s not in the field but her clothing seems completely inappropriate to both job and setting, especially since she’s forced to flee from a dinosaur in her very first episode. I thought Sarah’s flowing skirts and long loose hair in series 3 was bad, the least they could do is give Jess decent footwear. I really hope I find a reason to like this character soon.

Philip Burton is a private investor in the ARC, an acclaimed scientist in his own right, and seems to be Connor’s idol. He trades lighthearted barbs with James Lester well, but we don’t know much else about him yet. (Full disclosure: I’m apt to love him no matter who he really is or what he does solely because he’s played by Alexander Siddig. It’s Doctor Bashir, guys!)

Then there’s Matt Anderson, the enigmatic new team leader. That’s assuming that enigmatic is being defined as ‘kind of meh’. He doesn’t have the instant personality of Cutter or Danny Quinn, but is at least fairly likable and has a rapport with Captain Becker. But who is the mysterious Gideon that Becker is meeting with – and why is he sharing secret information? Mysteries abound.

Speaking of, Becker actually has a personality this episode – rejoice! Series 3 painted him as the background muscle, looking pretty and rarely saying much. Aside from a raised brow, Becker rarely showed any sign of having a personality beneath his hairspray (with the exception of his very entertaining annoyance in episode 3.09), but here we have smiles and jokes (“Is that phone insured? Good. And you, get a haircut.”) and teary eyes. Hopefully this isn’t a one episode only event.

There isn’t much to say about the big climax of the episode: a Spinosaurus is trapped in a stadium, there’s an awesome shoutout to Hannah Spearitt’s (the actress behind Abby Maitland) cheesy TV pop group days, the soldiers forget that they a) are indeed soldiers and b) should be able to hit the broadside of a barn without also hitting a man standing well away from said barn (the barn being the Spinosaurus, natch), and then an imploding dinosaur. Okay then. All is right in the world.

I still think Becker could have hit the dinosaur without any danger to Connor whatsoever, but still, at least he looked pretty.

The episode ends with Philip Burton and James Lester informing Abby and Connor that the ARC team is now military-only. This means they’re either out of the team completely or relegated to unimportant jobs, neither of which appeases the distraught Connor. He and Abby spend the night in the company apartment and wake up to life back in a world that they should, but probably don’t quite, recognise.

UK viewers: episode 2 is airing on ITV tonight at 7pm.

What did you think about Primeval‘s premiere episode? Are you excited that the series is back? Do you like the new characters? Let us know in the comments below!

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