Primeval S3 Ep5: Wince And Wince Again
Well, maybe the scriptwriters saw this episode as a homage to the Quatermass Experiment. God knows it wasn’t a homage to writing that made any kind of rational sense. Characters doing stupid things just to keep the plot moving along, like having a Rich Berk’s PA stupidly assume that the anomaly that appears before him is an art installation, then have said PA stray into unknown world beyond the anomaly where he gets sprayed with Satanic Foofoo Dust straight out of an old Star Trek episode (and have said dust squirt up out of a pod that looks a lot like the pods in Alien). So PA returns to Rich Berk’s apartment, coughs up some messy Satanic Foofoo Gunk and gets sucked back into the anomaly. Handy, that.
So, to cut an asinine story short, Rich Berk goes back to apartment, dips finger in Satanic Gunk, sniffs it then heads off in his chauffered limo to a railway station. Connor leads team from ARC to RB’s apartment (due to having tracked it with the handy Anomaly Trackometer), gets sample of Satanic FF Gunk back to lab, susses out that it’s Satanically Lethal and warns Jenny + Abby and their team, still back at RB’s apartment to clear out. Meanwhile, Christine Johnstone, Civil Servant From Hell, pays the ARC a visit, during which one of her henchthugs goes off for a nosy around the place, finds the containment where Connor put the Satanically Lethal Foofoo Gunk, and touches it. In seconds he’s on the floor, covered in grey, spore-tastic, self-spreading gunk. Henchthug is pronounced dead at scene, zipped up in bodybag. Then shortly after, Danny Q and Connor are in the lab, investigating, when the henchthug – now transformed into Sporeboy – comes to life and tears his way out of the bag with the obligatory Wooooarrrgh!
Meanwhile, Jenny and Abby etc are chasing after the Rich Berk, gradually turning into Sporeboy2, eventually tracking him down to some underground concrete tunnels. Then they’re joined by Danny Q with some handy flamethrowers (by Moulinex for all I know), and go after Sporeboy2, but then a call from the ARC warns them not to use flame as it`ll make the spores propagate (though they didn`t use that word, too many syllables, like). But they get Sporeboy2 into the van, speed back to the ARC, steer it into the central ops room, drop the temperature, but tragedy strikes and Jenny is trapped in there with it! It touches her and the self-spreading gunk starts to eat her face! But after killing Sporeboy2, they wait for the cold to kill off the spore gunk, leaving her alive and well enough to say, sod this, I`m off, and resigns from the team.
There were so many idiocies in this episode that I don’t have time to go into them – I gotta life and work to be getting on with. But I must, I MUST, point out the most godawful clunking gaffe in a veritable Everest of clunkers, that of the infective spores. Why is that when the Henchthug was infected it was all over him in a minute or less, leaving him apparently dead, while it took almost a third of the episode for the same thing to happen to the Rich Berk? Who didn’t do the dead-as-a-possum bit before his transformation, rather he sporishly blorked out while on the move. And if the mere touch of the Sporeboys was so lethal, surely that would make anything that they touched become a source of infection – the tunnels, the inside of the van, the lab? Then there’s the scene at the end, where Jenny had the infection on her face, but they had to wait for the low temperature, minus 30 or so, to kill it off. But…in order for that to work, Jenny’s own body would have to fall to minus 30 (AKA death) to kill it, since otherwise it would be depending on her body heat to survive! Doncha think?
I can imagine some responses to these criticisms – “Oh, you’re just nit-picking!… It’s just good escapist fun!… How can you be so horrid?…. But the kids love it!”
Ah, right, so if its escapist fun for the kids, then you’re allowed to slop together a heap of lazy plotting, banal characterisation, duff plausibility, and dead-as-a-doorpost dialogue then shovel it out the screen, is that right? But then, if you take a close look at those programmes specifically made for children, and using contemporary settings, Primeval-style characterisation and motivations would be rigorously excluded, so why are we expected to accept it in a series like Primeval? It’s not as if its fantasy, like Merlin or Buffy – it is presented as science fiction, with all the furniture that goes along with it, rational, investigative, and consistently plausible. Which depends on a knowledge and respect for what is actually scientifically possible and impossible – if you’re going to present something fairly wild in SF you have to back it up with a plausible explanation that takes account of rational cause and effect. In Primeval’s 1st two series there was a reasonable attempt to maintain consistent plausibility, but with series three it’s just gone right out the window. I’m now at the stage where Diabolical Helen could morph into Prime Minister and go to war against Christine Johnston, each commanding clone armies of Nick Cutter, and I’d probably just shrug.
Well, no, maybe I wouldn’t because then I’d be rooting for Connor and his clone army of Danny Quinns. Now THAT would be a hoot.
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