Sunday 4 October 2009

Primeval, Series 3

Primeval has always been entertaining and pacy, each season finding a new wrinkle to its premise, keeping things fresh and gradually improving without losing what’s good (i.e. lots of monsters). In season two Cutter found himself in a world changed (not entirely logically) by his adventures in the distant past, and realised that the anomalies opened onto the future as well as the past. The twist for season three is a realisation that creatures from the anomalies may have inspired the stories of monsters throughout history.

Other changes this season: Jason Flemyng (Quatermass in BBC4’s live adaptation, Jekyll and Hyde in LXG) is the new lead. As former cop Danny Quinn he has a rangy, charismatic dynamism that would have benefited any of TV’s big dramas. Gwen Taylor-lookalike Laila Rouass joins the team as all-purpose museum curator/scientist/historian Sarah Page, replacing the organisation’s redundant PR boss turned overseer (unnecessary supervisors are the bane of fantasy television).

The overdone love triangles of previous runs have gone, replaced by a comfortable family unit; Danny and Sarah as mum and dad, Andrew Lee-Potts (Connor) and Hannah Spearritt (Abby) providing good support as the kids. New soldier Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield) feels a bit Harry Sullivan given that Danny can handle a gun, but he’s had some good moments.

This season has been leaner, tighter and scarier. Highlights have included a Gigantosaurus battling a jumbo jet, a medieval knight chasing his “dragon” all the way to the present day and brawling with bikers, and a flock of giant birds attacking an abandoned government research facility. Imagine a half dozen pairs of giant scissors snapping away at your face for forty minutes…

One of the most improved shows this year. One thing’s unchanged: Ben Miller still gets the best lines. What a shame that shortly after I wrote this review (for Prism, originally) the show was cancelled, but how nice to hear that it’s now been granted a reprieve.

Primeval, Series 3, ITV1.

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