There are a few things you should know to begin with; I have never seen the original UK Primeval series. I want to give it a shot, but many people have warned me off it saying that the effects are terrible and the plots hang by a shoe string at best. But when Canada picked up a spin off show in Primeval New World, I thought it might be worth a crack, especially given the directors and producers making appearances are Stargate alumni and Niall Matter from Eureka was leading the show. Already, there were some favourable ingredients.
Another thing to know, I love dinosaurs, but I rarely see them done well on television. I cannot believe what a joke Terra Nova was and that was a recent failing in the foray of dinosaur animation and storytelling. Primeval New World certainly was on the money with the dinosaurs.
I believe the show is being run on the American channel SyFy in June if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but the DVD has already been released in the UK.
To give you the background; Evan Cross (Niall Matter) is a genius with his own company, Cross Photonics, but instead of working on his next innovation in the industry, he hangs out with Predator Control in the city. As it turns out, it’s because he has discovered that dinosaurs are coming through temporal disturbances known as Anomalies, and these dinosaurs are killing people... one of the victims was his wife.
Under the cut I’ll discuss the shows plot, some speculation on where it could be going and also give 5 reasons why this show should be renewed as sadly, after just 13 episodes it has been canned. I’m not suggesting that this is the next Firefly, but I think the record speaks for itself on solid shows not given enough of a go after their first season, and Primeval New World certainly fits that bill. It starts a little clunky, finding its style and feel, but it quickly delivers a solid storyline with interesting characters and arcs and I am told is much darker than the UK version, yet still accessible.
More discussion under the cut.
Primeval New World is definitely about dinosaurs, unlike some of its predecessors, and takes them seriously. It also takes plot and character development seriously, which means you aren’t left with the dinosaurs and nothing else.
Each character takes a unique journey as the series unfolds and I’ll go through the plot through those character points.
Evan Cross is the star of the show, struggling to come to terms with the loss of his wife and the existence of the things that killed her. He spends all his time developing technology to track the dinosaurs and the anomalies and spends very little time on his own company goals. Evan has altered the course of history by saving Mac, a man who died saving him by coming through the anomaly right at the correct moment. Upon meeting Mac, Evan decides to save him by ensuring that he never enlists in the army.
This is probably Evan’s major mistake, and he spends a lot of time coming to terms with it, especially when Connor Temple shows up from the presumed future (and original UK Primeval series) and tells him that everything must be put back, the creatures, everything, because any interference could disrupt the world as we know it.
In addition to Mac, Evan recruits Dylan, a Predator Controller who after being exposed to the world of dinosaurs can’t really go back to the way that she was. Dylan has expert knowledge on animals, prehistoric and otherwise, and she and Evan are the main hunting team. They spend each episode tracking anomalies and hunting down the dinosaurs that come out of them to put them back as per Connor’s advice. Dylan and Evan also have incredible chemistry which is only vaguely skirted around in season 1.
Mac on the other hand is a guard; his job is basically to be the military style muscle if something goes wrong. He usually gets posted at the anomaly but he also gets into the fray fighting with the creatures. His girlfriend in the series, Sam, is a security guard at Cross Photonics and gets mauled by one of the dinosaurs in the series. It’s a shame because she was a good character, but certainly served to up the stakes and to cause tension between Evan and Mac. When Mac discovers his body on ice in Evan’s secret part of the facility, things become even more hostile. Ultimately, Mac wants to know whether Evan stole his life or gave him another chance.
Mac’s best friend on the team is Toby, Evan’s tech support and all round genius with computers. Watching Toby and Mac’s friendship develop is fun and in the end something that his character would never have had if Evan hadn’t altered the course of his history.
Evan’s presumed best friend is Ange, his business partner and long time right hand woman. Ange and Evan are a team and she runs his company for him, negotiating and closing deals, forming strategic alliances. She doesn’t agree with what Evan is doing and thinks that the Government/Military outfit ‘Project Magnet’ should take over. Evan and Ange strike up a brief and complicated relationship that ends in tears, and really showcases that fact that just because people say you should give something a go doesn’t mean that it’s either a good idea or that there was anything there to begin with.
Lieutenant Leeds is the head of Project Magnet, a ill-used Lieutenant whom you can never tell whether to trust, has a strange sense of humour compounded with a striking sense of duty. Leeds takes both the team and the viewer on a see-saw of who is lying and why and we spend much of the season not knowing which side he is actually on. He captures a baby Terra Bird and deceives the team to present it to his superiors for funding to help the team. This leads to the military taking many more specimens and experimenting on them. Our heroes are more than unhappy about this.
Five Reasons Primeval New World Should Be Renewed
1. It Rocks the Ladies
Primeval New World is one of the few new shows with a mixed gender cast that is equally males and females. While this helps to take away the chances of the woman being stereotyped, it also helps with a more realistic portrayal of relationships and stories. All of the female characters in this series are strong in their own ways. Dylan is a hunter and runs into the fray with Evan who is far less experienced and has to trust her. Ange runs Evans company, is a master negotiator and business woman and when she believes in something, she sticks by her convictions. Toby is the most timid of the group, but often puts herself in harms way despite being afraid because she believes it’s the right thing to do. She is also brilliant at her job. Sam had spunk and was brave, and as the show developed more guest females were included. It’s a really awesome thing to see as it doesn’t often happen. Great to see so many female directors and writers as well, including the absolutely amazing Amanda Tapping.
2. Great Dinosaurs
Seriously, the dinosaur effects were pretty awesome, and the use of the dinosaurs in the plot was fantastic. They were both victims and perpetrators; you felt sorry for them at some times and you wanted to off them at other times. The explorations of much darker themes through the dinosaurs are something that Jurassic Park started and that hasn’t been adequately replicated since. The fact that there aren’t really any happy endings in this story, either dinosaur or human dies, only serves to intensify the heart of the heroes in their conviction to try.
3. The Plot is Great
The way the plot has moved slowly from dinosaur of the week through to answering some of the burning questions and revealing more information about the anomalies has been great. As the plot thickens we find ourselves wanting to know more, wanting to know about the anomalies and how they came about, what happens if certain things change, what happens if your get stuck somewhere. I mean, Colin Ferguson’s character in the show, stepping into the past and being stuck there, complete with technology ,was a really strong move and I am sure that was going somewhere. I want to know what that means for the future of these characters. And these sorts of questions were peppered throughout the show. The Stargate flavour of the show doesn’t hurt either, with so many Stargate alumni working on it, the effects and story really took on a Stargate feel which I have been missing in my life, especially the final two episodes and the junction plotline. It’s a formula that works and engages the adventure in this kind of story.
As I said before, I haven’t seen the UK Primeval series, though I am planning to give it a crack soon based on this show. Suffice to say, when Connor Temple showed up, I got how important he was, I got the charisma and the hint at the back story and I definitely wanted more. These are separate but entwined stories, much like Stargate and Stargate Atlantis. Watching them cross over is a lot of fun and trying to decide how all the teams are affected if just one changes anything is really cool.
5. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!!!!!
The pace of the final two episodes as well as the discovery of a lot of key information was a blast, and the cliff hanger ending had me screaming at the television. Look away now if you don’t want to read spoilers for the end of the series but if not, here is what happened.
Project Magnet is taking over, with leverage over Evan and with Ange in their employ. During a mission, Toby is stung by a giant scorpion and is failing quickly. Mac stays with her while Evan and Dylan try to get a venom sample. When they head through the anomaly they see that this is a junction, a place with hundreds of anomalies, that if the Military find they will exploit. Col. Hall wants to use the anomalies to change the world, stop global warming in particular, but doesn’t understand the potential cost. On the mission, Evan encounters the exact anomaly that resulted in his wife’s death and works hard to not interfere. He and Dylan successfully obtain the venom sack of the scorpion but Evan is trapped and Toby flat-lining.
As Dylan delivers the sack to her timeline, Connor Temple follows a colleague through an anomaly from his own into the junction. He encounters Dylan and helps to rescue Evan. The team in turn help him to find his missing friend, who is in Evan’s wife’s death anomaly. Together the group rescues Connor’s team mate, but when they head back through they are followed by the dinosaur. Col. Hall finds out about the junction from Ange, Toby is saved, and the Col. Comes through in time to capture the dinosaur and demand that Connor and his colleague come back through our anomaly. Nothing is looking good for space-time at this stage. Nothing.
Mac confronts Connor about the man in the freezer and whether he had his life stolen. Connor tells him to live this life and that only people who are in an anomaly when the timeline changes will remember a different timeline anyway, everyone else just keeps living.
Ange confronts Connor who convinces her that he and his team mate need to be allowed to go home. She agrees and he promises to return for their weaponry. As this exchange is happening, the dinosaur gets free and is being herded back to the anomaly. Col. Hall realises his error too late and presumably pays for it with his life. Evan, Mac and Dylan send the dinosaur into the correct anomaly, and ponder what will happen now that there is no future Mac to save Evan. Although Evan is willing to take this risk, Mac dives in, believing that this was his purpose all along, and we see him push Evan in the past out of the way of the dinosaur’s jaws. Evan realises that at some point it was always him that caused his wife’s death because he sent the dinosaur through. When it charges back into the junction, Evan shoots the creature dead. Suddenly all of the anomalies start closing and Evan realises that they have changed something, as they leap into their own anomaly, it begins to disappear and the show ends.
I have some theories about what happens next. I think Dylan and Evan will be the only ones who remember the shift in the timeline because they are in an anomaly when it happens. This will bring them closer together and may facilitate them getting together. I think their world will be vastly altered. For some reason, I keep thinking that if Evan isn’t deleted from the timeline because Mac actually failed to save him, then he is married or with Ange and they both work for Project Magnet. This would be a good way of prolonging any potential relationship with Dylan... annoyingly. It’s likely that the project would be 100% military operated, because the civilians have been the forerunners in our timeline.
But what was the big change? Was it that Evan shot and killed the dinosaur that killed his wife when it had done its job? Before it could actually do something else that he isn’t aware of because he isn’t the centre of time and space contrary to popular belief? It seems probable; the anomalies started closing when he did that. It could be that Mac wasn’t killed on the other side, or didn’t save Evan, yet Evan was on the other side ready to kill the dinosaur causing a paradox and the timeline needed to correct itself. These are also viable. It could be something that Connor did inadvertently in our timeline, leaving the weapons behind, but this is doubtful. Needless to say, there are a lot of possibilities and thinking about it is giving me a lot of joy.
If you love Primeval New World too, check out the Save Primeval New World campaigns. It’s possible that after its run in the US in June, SyFy will pick it up. Get behind it, because I really need to know what happens next!