Here’s a little story from my distant past. While growing up in Clydebank, Scotland, my best buddy was (and remains) a guy called Stewart; he lived not far from my parents’ house and we hung out a lot, talking about SF and comics, listening to music, even making music and weird, Pythonesque, cast-of-a-thousand sketches. Once I was visiting his house, standing on the front doorstep, just chinwagging, when his family dog, a (to my 15yr old eyes) huge alsation of a somewhat fierce disposition, appeared at the back gate, staring at me through the wooden slats. One look at me and the barking started, as it disappeared from view. I knew immediately from the travelling sound that the Hound of Hell was racing around the house to get at me, which prompted your humble scribe to dive in past Stewart and ascend the stairs to a safe room with an alacrity later described as warp speed. Dog’s name was Kyle, and I was his special food. Stewart and his folks usually found this hilarious since Kyle, they assured me, was usually quite even tempered. It was just the sight of me that awoke the Beasht Inshide.
Anyway, the point of this tale is that when faced with oncoming doom the natural instinct is to leg it, take a sharp exit, and just get the hell outa Dodge.
But not, it seems, if you’re a character in Primeval.
So, anomaly opens in a hangar at an unnamed airfield, BFD….er, Very Large Dino – a Giganotosaurus – pokes its head out while a media crew is in the hangar, along with their own pet dino expert. Dinoman is taking point when the BFD leans out, roars, exposing its well-handy dentures. But does Dinoman do what any sensible person woul do and run like buggery? Why no, he just sits there, quailing like a wuss who’s lost all sensation in his legs, and thus becomes the Giganotsaurus’ special food. Same thing later on, when some media harridan, in defiance of yer basic human instinct for self preservation, gets in close to the 30-foot armoured killing machine just to get a good camera shot and instead gets chomped.
Sorry, just don’t buy it. These are just 2 more examples of the Idiot Plot in action.
Makes you wonder what they were thinking…so in order to make Duh Big Monstah a real deadly threat, right, we gotta have it eat someone, yeah? So we`ll bring in the Annoying Journo’s boss, make her out to be a real piece of work, and we can get her eaten by the Dino, as well as that expert guy. Yeah, it’ll be great. We can’t show the gnashing and the blood and everthing, but it’ll be cool.
Okay, sorry, just channelling an imaginary conversation between the writer and the director. Who clearly haven’t got a clue, as proven by the over-egged inclusion of Nastier-than-Lester demonic civil servant Christine Johnstone, and the return of Danny Quinn (aka James Indiana McLane Bourne), (yet no sign of Diabolical Helen). And the attempted reframing of Connor as the serious bloke-in-charge fell flatter than one of David Cameron’s jokes. And the clodhopping stab at the cast emoting over Cutter’s demise, which might have worked if they’d had some decent lines and direction. And the completely brainless, stunningly obvious and ultimately time-wasting Abby’s-brother sub-sub-plot, and the continuing slobification of the Jenny Lewis character…
Oh god, why am I using up my valuable time torching this farrago of cliches? Maybe because to begin with it was entertaining without being cringeworthy, populist without being dumb and insulting. But since the start of Series 3, almost every scene oozes with contempt for the audience, as well as the actual craft of screenwriting. And here’s another example – if you go to the Primeval blog at ITV.com, one of the post titles is ‘No funeral for Nick?’ Yet Stephen got one, which would be considered a normal element of consistent and plausible storytelling. Yet the hacks who are involved in the current season just don’t care about the Nick Cutter character. Yeah, thats him out the way, lets get some real muscle in there, lets have a makeover.
And further proof, if ever it was needed, was on show in the trailer for next weeks episode. And I gotta say, these writers have got the cojones, they’ve got the tackle – yup, they’re going to rip off Nigel Kneale. To get some idea of what next Saturday has in store, go to Wikipedia and look up The Quatermass Experiment.
Roll on episode 5.