Reviewbr> “We’re going to need a bigger sack” – Stephen.
Helen Cutter isn’t exactly cooperating with the Home Office, but advises then she can tell the team where an outbreak of “sabre-toothed killers” is going to happen. Once at the scene of a new anomaly, located in a walk-in freezer, Helen escapes through the anomaly, but she was right about something wanting to come back through. Professor Cutter and associates find themselves knee deep in dodo birds!
The dodos are pretty cute and friendly, well, except for the ones that are incubating a right nasty parasite. Said parasite changes normally placid creatures into psychotic killers. Awesome, and when Connor’s friends Tom and Duncan make off with an errant dodo, things get really interesting. Tom is infected with the parasite and it’s up to our experts to track him down before a pandemic breaks out or before he can harm Abby. Conspiracy theories to the fore here team as a strong episode ensues.
Episode four throws a rather large curve ball at the audience and no one is apologising. For much of the running time you are in a comedic episode, dodos are hard to take seriously after all, but during the opening interrogation of Helen and the final interaction between Connor and Tom there’s a lot more going down and Primeval is prepared to show its darker side. The episode even manages some pathos towards the end that was striking since the first series hasn’t really headed in that direction previously. All in all a bloody good time and a breath of fresh primordial air in an otherwise stale television schedule.
Okay, I’m trying really hard to get away from mentioning Director Cilla Ware in each episode review as she really is starting to nail things after maybe a slightly “fish out of water” opening to the season. But sorry, the Director simply insists on being mentioned. Here Ware shows she can handle comedy along with action and emotional scenes. Her timing is perfect and she is getting the best out of the various cast members as the one-liners, comedic moments, and slapstick goes down. Excellent decision on the part of ITV in handing the reigns to the Director.
Ware is on her game from the get-go here, simply loved the back-lighting used when Sir James Lester is interrogating Helen Cutter. Actually the script by Adrian Hodges was also notably strong in this scene, with Helen and James trading thinly veiled barbs. Helen is being sarcastic and James is firing it right back at her in crisp Brit “bureaucratise”. May have just created a word there, but you know what I mean.
The first major scene of the episode sets things heavily in comedy land, which as I seemingly am going to harp on about, makes the final scene even more impactful. We focus on a group of kids playing soccer, that would be football for the Europeans, on some unnamed housing estate. A woman screams out from a couple of floors up to the kids to keep it down. We then zoom into the woman’s flat and see her son is taking a bath. Hey, cool use of bubble bath there else we could be facing up to even more PC attacks. Anyway, behind the bath-time kid a creature is slowly emerging from the toilet; we get a creature POV followed by two eyes staring with dark intent from under the toilet seat. Wonderful use of angles and atmosphere by the Director. Naturally the Home Office team are called in, which I would imagine they would be with any creature sighting. Not only do Professor Cutter and crew arrive, but we have the whole shooting box of paramilitary personnel as well. It’s here that Ware shows her ability to get minor details happening, thus adding to the overall holistic approach Primeval is evolving towards (hehehehehe). Stephen shows his soccer skills with a side kick of a football, Connor naturally claims this is a “fluke”, which keeps Connor’s rivalry with Stephen firmly to the fore. With the Home Office arrival, the kids who were playing soccer/football surrender with their hands in the air. Yes folks, the Brits take noise pollution seriously!
In the wash up, an illegally imported python is the root cause of the festivities and Connor gets the full impact of Mum screaming as Abby shows she really is a reptile girl. Interesting enough, and I’m pointing this out for our female readers, Stephen doesn’t like snakes.
Another strong aspect of the episode is the soundtrack that utilises a sort of primeval “roar” to remind us that those “sabre-toothed killers” might be breaking out at any moment. Ware uses the roar between scene transitions to underline her multi-faceted approach, and makes sure there’s a natural reason for it each time. Interesting and ultimately rewarding approach.
This episode surprisingly shows a lot of pathos, things continue to develop making the series a very solid entry in our Television diet
A couple of plot points and we can call this one a wrap. Connor’s mates, who had in the previous episode voiced suspicions about what Connor might be doing, plant a bug on him to help follow his movements. Ultimately this will lead to Tom and Duncan capturing a wayward dodo and Tom’s infection. I was kind of hoping the producers of Primeval would keep this plot arc going, Tom and Duncan fill the Shakespearean comedic role after all, but given the finale to the episode am happy things pan out as they do.
Helen escapes through an anomaly and Stephen, along with a soldier, follow her through. We then discover the current anomaly leads to a sort of central convergence of anomalies. I would assume there’s a collective noun for anomalies but can’t be arsed finding out what it is. Anyway, the point here is that multiple timelines are linked up and we can expect all manner of monsters to pop up week to week. Earth to Adrian Hodges: we’re expecting raptors, dude, Spielberg spoilt us on the creature feature stakes and we aren’t taking second best.
Actually there’s one of the season’s few logic errors going down in the anomaly escape scene. Why would the Home Office allow Helen, currently under detention, to retain her kit for a field trip? This includes a knife that would have Crocodile Dundee drooling in envy.
Ooh ooh ooh Hannah Spearritt reprises her “prancing around in knickers” thing, much to the rising blood pressure of the PC mob and to the resounding joy of male viewers everywhere!
Tonight’s actor focus is James Murray who plays Stephen, Professor Cutter’s right hand man. Murray is a pretty good fit for the role but you do get the impression the actor was chosen as eye candy for the ladies. Hey there’s nothing wrong with that and it shows the Producers are catering to their entire audience. Thus far Murray really hasn’t taken central stage but you get the general impression that he wouldn’t be out of his depth if it’s thrust on him sometime during the rest of the season, or indeed during season two.
One of the stronger season one episodes, I was held spellbound throughout this invasion of the killer dodo outing. I got a good chuckle on here and there, liked the story advancement, and was sideswiped by the conclusion. Television doesn’t really get much better than this. Along with Supernatural and Dr Who, Primeval really is must-watch material.
The third series of the show is currently wrapped in the U.K. but I have no idea when it’s being screened Downunder. I don’t bother watching it on commercial television and simply pick up the DVDs when they are released. Seasons one and two are currently available in all good DVD shops for those interested.
Even if you don’t get the whole Primeval thing, this episode comes highly recommended. It has something for everyone and doesn’t shy away from where things are headed. Besides which, how many shows are you ever going to see that could be subtitled “Night of the Killer Dodos”?