Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




Primeval Season 3 Episode 3: Why It Sucked

Posted on April 14th 2009 | 23 Comments so far

Aar, but it only appears that I missed blogging about Primeval cos I was away in Bradford, attending Eastercon along with a megagaggle of other writers, editors, readers, critics and sundry mighty-brained fans. Apart from the cough thats been dogging me for over a week, a good weekend was had, such that certain career advancements were achieved. Sshh, no names, no pack drill. Further details shall emerge in due course, doncha know.

Anyway, to the matter in hand, my current favourite cultural trainwreck, Primeval. Suffice to say that astute readers of this blog may have formed the opinion that I wasn`t to enamoured of the script and plot elements on show in the first two episodes. In fact, rereading my effervescent rant, I kinda worried that mebbe I had overstepped the mark, that perhaps I was being unfair and not giving the series’ writers and directors the chance to get their feet.

Then I watched episode three. Nah. I was right before.

Where to begin? I had thought that episode two was an unsurpassable mound of careless writing and reeking cliches torn bodily from their graves. But Ep3 inflicted more idiocies on the audience (as well as the actors, poor sods) than I thought an hour of commercial television could safely contain. Okay, lets start with the cute Diictodon and their charming little tunnels, and those holes in the walls which, unaccountably, no-one thought to try and block up in the pregnant womans room (or elsewhere), which would seem like a natural reaction. And I dont know about you but watching Cutter and Abby and Connor and Annoying Journobloke  chasing after the widdle cute dinos engendered in me a titanic, jaw-breaking yawn. Then there was the hospital evacuation, possibly the most inane and incompetent building evac ever witnessed. Then there was the Cutter-and-Abby-do-doctor-and-nurse in the pregnancy plot-thread which, like the girl-in-the-red-dress subplot last week, was utterly superfluous and contributed absolutely nothing to the main story. (And you have to ask what the point of the Annoying Journobloke subplot? As far as I can make out, his ONLY function was to lock Cutter and Abby in with the pregnant woman. Was the writer really that stuck for some plot action?)

Then the action shifts to the ARC, that top-top, uber-top secret gummint building that the Diabolical Helen can seemingly waltz in and out of at will. And LO! for we are introduced to Nick Cutter’s clone, which DH seemingly whisked up in a farfuture Kenwood combined cloning and ageing tank (the Kenwood Clonemaster 9000, no doubt); now watch as he penetrates the ARC’s security (which astonishingly has an eye scanner this time, unlike last time when one of  DH’s goons was able to waltz in with a purloined card). Clone Cutter strolls around the place, talking in a monotone voice while employing a 40-word vocabulary and no-one bats an eyelid, not even the 2 women who clearly have an interest in him (yet not to the point where their special woman-powers would be capable of spotting suspicious changes in his character).

This is ridiculous – Clone Cutter is even dressed in totally different clothes from almost anything he usually wears, yet everyone just assumes that he must have changed them on his way back from the situation at the hospital (with which no-one, not one of the personnel at the ARC seems to be, er, monitoring or keeping tabs on in any way, y’know, which might drop a clue that, er, Cutter was still there, y’know, the real one).

Of course, Cutter meets his clone and the scenes involving the two of them are suitably emptyheaded and cliche-ridden; the plot-twist by which Cutter’s trapped colleagues free themselves and neutralise Diabolical Helen’s verbal commands seems almost plausible, and all her goons stop being goonish, including Clone Cutter. Plausible until Helen talks extra loudly at Clone Cutter, telling him to complete his mission. Which he has to do because thats what idiotic characters do in an idiot plot, despite the fact that the other goons are NOT obeying DH’s verbal commands.

The burning building scene was the most unconvincing I`ve ever seen; didnt seem to be any firefighters present, or indeed anyone with the slightest knowledge of the dangers of smoke inhalation, for example. Yup, Cutter goes running back in to save DH, even though she was clearly seen to be the first one heading out of the building. Then there’s Cutter’s death scene which, for clunking bathos, was on a par with death-scenes from the Carry On movies. So DH shot him and vanishes, as only a black-clad moustache-twirling villain can vanish, leaving Cutter slumped against a bit of wreckage (non-burning, non-hot) where Connor finds him, amid the flames and the destruction. If this scene had possessed a gram of honesty, Connor would have hauled Cutter up over his shoulder and dashed out to waiting medics; instead what we get is Cutter saying something like ‘just stay here with me’, and yes, with flames and destruction all around, Connor – rather than saying, shut the f*** up, I’m getting you out of here – says okay, sits down while Cutter has his deathbed speech, handing on the mysterious artefact etc. Head tips over onto Connor’s shoulder. Dies. Connor then leans his head on Cutters. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s known as bathos. Look it up.

Awful, just awful. You have to wonder what persuaded Dougie Henshall to jump ship – did he get some inkling of the way the story was going and, listening to his instinct, said I want out? I absolutely don’t blame him. But then again, never underestimate the ability of TV networks, in their pinheaded way, to dumb things down beneath and beyond the call of corporate duty.

Roll on Episode 4.

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