A North American spin-off of the hit U.K. television series, PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD follows a specialized team of animal experts and scientists that investigates the appearance of temporal ...
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When strange anomalies start to appear all over England, Professor Cutter and his team must track down and capture all sorts of dangerous prehistoric creatures from Earth's distant past and near future.
Andrew Lee Potts,
A North American spin-off of the hit U.K. television series, PRIMEVAL: NEW WORLD follows a specialized team of animal experts and scientists that investigates the appearance of temporal anomalies and battles both prehistoric and futuristic creatures.Written by
Gustafson's sloppy appearance and lack of military haircut might be a deliberate mistake to suggest character, but he would never mispronounce his rank. He and the other characters all employ the American pronunciation of "lootenant" but the RCAF, like all Canadian Forces branches, pronounce it "leftenant." See more »
The original UK *Primeval* remains to this day one of my favorite guilty pleasures. And while some of the characters in that version left me a bit cold, and I found the ups and downs caused by poor network treatment frustrating, I never tired of the dry humor or complicated and mixed character motivations as they battled anomalies, creatures, and humans determined to use both to achieve greater power. The situations created suspense: You were always wondering how they were going to get out of this week's predicament. In this version, the motives are straightforward, all goodness all the time: Save the modern world from time anomalies and creatures that arrive through them. These creatures often predate humans, and, being out of place, generally cause trouble, including approaching humans an interesting new prey species. The problem I have is that we have not yet (as of July 2013 on the SyFy run of the first season) been given a clear reason as to why these particular characters are doing this; there is very little to motivate them to do this work, and the context does not make the need for them doing it particularly critical nor gripping. There's no scientific researcher like Cutter, driven by pure scientific curiosity about the phenomenon, just a entrepreneur who lost a loved one to an anomaly creature and who finds the experience an adrenaline rush. We have no sense of what he hopes to achieve long-term. There are no hard-core nerds like Connor, no animal lovers like Abby, and apparently no interest in obtaining the tech that enabled the UK team to put anomalies in a holding pattern to prevent more wayward creatures from getting lost in the wrong time (while of course dealing with those that had slipped through before they could be stopped). (Which means there is always at least one character left "guarding" the anomaly. Boring....) And when this team discusses tech, it's in the context of the tech expert providing a nice app for their phone as a done deal, whereas the process of creating tech in the original was suspenseful: Will it work, will it help, how much does it need to be tweaked, etc. Sometimes tech failures contributed to the action.
So every week we're introduced to a new creature that must be returned to its time, and we watch the characters do relatively boring things to figure out how to accomplish this. Civilians are tangentially involved, but with the exception of one episode, rarely do we see their involvement in any depth. (And that episode's civilian was not depicted in a manner that even made us worry about her or collateral damage in general, as we always did in the original, which even included a character who had grown to adulthood by traveling through alternate times after being drawn into an anomaly as a child.) Meanwhile, as the creatures are being tracked, the characters tell us their life stories, which gets very old very quickly. (Seriously, why would we be interested, beyond the basic reason they're involved in the first place? Backstories are for storyboards to guide the actions of a character in the current situation, but it's the current situation where the focus for the audience exists.) For example, in an episode that should've ratcheted the suspense to the rafters, main characters being stalked by raptors similar to the velociraptors of Jurassic Park, we're being bored to death listening to one character talk to two others about their feelings about the death of loved ones. The ultimate capture was so anti-climatic, it was hard to believe they were in any danger to begin with. And there is no "big bad" here, either, a character with a hidden agenda, wanting to use the phenomenon to achieve bigger goals, like the original's Helen Cutter and her first quest to start a prehistoric zoo, and then ultimately end humanity because humanity was destroying the planet. (Granted, her character was a bit of a mess, but at least she kept things interesting, and kept viewers guessing.) While the butterfly effect is alluded to, no one seems particularly interested in either changing history, nor showing concern that others might want to.
Ultimately, even if they want to limit this version to a weekly creature feature, they need to up the action, reduce the chit-chat, and make the process of capturing the creatures suspenseful. If they really want to make this sci-fi in the tradition that the original followed, they need far more depth to the characters and the stories. The UK *Primeval* was not a perfect show by any means, but by comparison to this show, it was imaginative and action-packed. It's as if these showrunners have found a formula and are sticking to it, even if it is boring as hell.
There is potential here. The actors are good, and the characters have the potential to be interesting. Now they need to add more imagination, suspense, and action. i.e., they should ask themselves the question that it was clear the original's creators asked, what would I do if I were in this situation? It is, after all the question that every good sci-fi story wants its audience to ask.
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