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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

don’t miss ‘Primeval’ starting on BBC America tonight

I’ll tell ya what happened: Some exec at Britain’s ITV took a look at how the BBC was printing its own money these days and started screaming at his underlings: “Get me a Doctor Who! Or least get me a Torchwood!” And one of the guys who made those way-cool Walking with… nature documentaries, in conjunction with one of the guys who created Rome, came up with Primeval, which is kinda Torchwood meets Land of the Lost, with a little bit of Stargate and The X-Files thrown in for seasoning. Six episodes were broadcast in early 2007, and another seven in early 2008, and now all 13 are coming to BBC America, starting tonight at 9pm Eastern.
I got a sneak peek at the first two episodes, and I’m hooked. Actually, I was hooked from the opening moments of episode one, in which a big-ass carnivorous dinosaur is chasing a woman around a shopping mall parking lot — that hooked me because it’s exactly like nightmares that I had as a kid, about dinosaurs roaming around in our world today. Well, they were nightmares, but they were cool nightmares that I loved having.

I won’t spoil too much, because a lot of the fun I had with these two episodes was discovering just what the hell the show was going to be about — all I knew was what I had gleaned from the ads driving around on the sides on buses in Manhattan: a couple of cute guys in adventure-type gear, and behind them are both a hugely fanged dinosaur and the modern London skyline. How and why these two could come together was a complete mystery to me, and I’m glad I waited till I saw the actual show to find out more. I have a vague memory, too, of someone at a science fiction convention recently telling me, after a panel I was on about cool British science fiction TV, that I needed to check out Primeval, so that may be why the show’s title rang a bell. Whoever it was who gave me the tip, thanks.

I think I’ll probably write more about the show, and more in-depth, as the series unfurls on BBCA, but for now, trust me: Give it a shot.

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  • It’s SO inspired by Doctor Who that they even cast a former teen pop star in it. She’s the one who spends most of the show in her underwear.

    Paul Cornell has written an episode or two, I believe – I stopped watching after the opening story – and Russell T Davies has been very complimentary about it (despite his qualms about it having an all-white cast).

  • Oh jeez…

    I remember trying to watch this when it aired on BBC like a year ago. Couldn’t even get through the first episode. From what I remember it’s not as bad as the (unfortunate) new Adrian Lester series Bonekickers, but it’s the same kind of silly schmaltz. One review I read yesterday at HollywoodReporter said the effects in Primeval were “mind-blowing” and more than make up for the “tacked-on” plot.

    What a ringing endorsement! Can’t wait!

    But seriously, there are positive reviews out there, too. Ain’t it Cool has a nice aggregate page in the Coaxial section. ( http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37861 )

    I’ll be the first to admit I have severely elevated expectations for science fiction series, plus it isn’t easy to dismiss MaryAnn’s opinions, so I’ll probably give this show another chance.

  • Barb Gorczyca

    Already seen both series that have been produced so far and it’s okay – just light entertainment. It seems a rarity that BBCA puts anything on that is scripted on their network anymore (haven’t flipped to that station in months). It should really be called BBC-Fine Living instead.

  • Paul Hayes

    It’s quite good fun, in its way. I don’t think it’s a patch on Doctor Who, but then again, what is?

    I don’t think they should have replaced that character with the other character.

    Paul Cornell’s is the 12th episode, by the way (or the 6th of series two, if you prefer).

  • Crap. I am in Allentown, PA, hundreds of miles from my DVR, and I didn’t set it to record. I want to watch this show so much! I wonder if my inlaws have BBCA.

  • notashill

    I watched it last night based on a writeup in my local newspaper and I found it entertaining. One hot guy, several attractive chicks, and a professional herpetologist who dresses more like Pink than like Terri Irwin.

    Also, the requisite annoying precocious child who gets everyone around him in mortal danger.

    Not great, but worth watching.

  • The best thing about it was that we didn’t have to suffer requisite excruciating initial episodes while we were waiting for everyone to “get” what was going on. Whew. Now we can get on to whatever the story line will be, without being distracted by waiting for half the characters to be convinced.

    Of course, those running from mega saliva-drooling beasties didn’t need any help becoming believers…

    Now, I’ll melt at a Scottish accent (probably for reasons obvious to your readers,) but can someone tell me, is there something quirky about Douglas Henshall’s speech? Am I hearing a lisp or some “anomaly” in his accent?

  • Pat Mustard

    Paul Cornell’s is the 12th episode? Explains why it was the best in an up-and-down second series (which was, however, much better than the first). And also why it contains one of the top ten great line(s):

    -‘It’s a hairless mammoth.’

    -‘I don’t care if it’s shaved its legs and got a bikini wax…’

  • scottish accents vary widely — if you’re from edinburgh, you’ll sound very different than you would if you were from glasgow, or the isle of lewis or john o’groats… his accent sounded perfectly fine to me. well, better than fine — delicious.i

  • John

    Just a heads-up, the pilot is available on iTunes for free! So if you missed it (like I did) and don’t want to deal with ‘alternate acquisition’ methods, grab it while it’s there. :)

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