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Primeval 4.04
In which fan service abounds, but characterisation and plot suffer...

I really need to watch this episode again, because Draco chose Saturday night to be stroppy, and because I seem to have missed some dialogue - the sound was really crappy, and I hadn't put on the subtitles.

Yes, there was a lot of fan service. Yes, Becker was badly hurt, ended up calling Matt's name, and got his shirt off. (Yes, indeed, that was very, very nice, thank you.) Yes, Matt got his shirt off too. (Not so nice but, hell, I'm not complaining!) Yes, Lester was utterly, utterly wonderful. (But then he usually is.) Yes, Becker, and to a certain extent Matt and Connor, were efficient and actually shot things dead. Cor!

However. Since when did schools hold detention on Saturdays? Since when did they still allow snack machines? Since when did they have security systems designed to lock the kids in? Since when did no-one put the gym equipment away?

Other problems surround the timing. This episode must (because of the conversation between Emily and Matt) take place the day after the events of 4.03 Unfortunately, this means that the day after Connor has (quite correctly) called Burton an idiot, he is defending him to Abby, on the subject of killing the beasts, including Rex. I have every sympathy with Abby at this point, and if Connor had been my boyfriend he wouldn't have just have got the cold shoulder but the push. From her point of view, Connor's hero-worship of Burton takes precedence over his relationship with her. Matt's trust in Emily continues to be equally ridiculous and the fact they had backup yesterday does not mean they should abandon the idea today!

The there is the fact that the shots of Dublin-as-London are beginning to be really, really irritating. So are the number of Irish accents. There isn't, as far as I know, any particular area of London where the Irish predominate (the way that Orthodox Jews do in Golders Green, Aussies in Earl's Court and people from Bangladesh in Tower Hamlets.) Dublin does not look at all like London, as I can assure the producers. Nor does it look like any English city that I know.

There was, however, a good deal more wit and more excitement than there has been recently. There were interesting bits of characterisation - Becker liked school and Matt doesn't remember it. (Now, that leads to some interesting speculation, considering his lack of much character. Is he fully human? Has he been brain-wiped and reprogrammed? Is he an android or a cleaner-style clone?)

Yet again, however, they are drawing on earlier episodes for their plots. Not showing a death but a team member watching the person die (2.07), climbing all over the office furniture to keep out of the way of the creatures (2.02), a monster incursion in a school (1.01), a child/children in detention with a teacher being attacked, and the monsters breaking through shut doors (1.01). I am sure there are more.

The science was a bit odd. I am not sure how Matt thought sticking salt in Becker's wound would help, and I am still not sure how they thought it did help. Some of the things said about the beasties were a bit odd, and I am still trying to work out how the ecology back in the Permian would support such numbers - they weren't exactly built for long distance running!

Yeah, it was okay, but I am not at all impressed by the writing this season.

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If you walk down Whitechapel you will hear mostly Irish accents among the white people.

There are a lot of Irish in London, but not half as many as in Primeval!

There used to be a lot of Irish people working in Dagenham, but that has changed in recent years.

Lot of Irish in Kilburn *g*.

I was in rather a weird mood on Saturday, so didn't enjoy the ep as much as I might have done. I found the pace slow.

I do, though, want to know more about Matt. And I'm sorry they didn't do anything with Ms Steampunk in the ep.

Something you said the other day resonated with me. I'm more interested in the anomalies and what causes them and the timeline possibilities than I am the critters . . .

I don't think they have any idea at all about what causes the anomalies. They really should have worked that out before they started and not tried to make it up as they go along. Script lessons should be taken from Babylon 5 where hints dropped in the pilot don't resonate until the third season and from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, which use the same technique. Rowling is someone else who does this to great effect - she knew how the series was going to end when she started writing Harry Potter, and, however many problems there are with the writing style and characterisation, she is superb at plotting.

I got the impression that it wasn't that Matt couldn't remember his schooldays, just that he said what he did to avoid talking about them.
So on with random speculation... Given Matt's coversations with Gideon about the fact that somebody will do something although it rather vauge on what Matt is suppose to do if/when he finds out, I'd say that Gideon and quite possibly Matt are from the future. Would kind of explain Matt's willingness to help Emily - another person out of their home time.

That's a possibility, though, as I said to Luka, I'm not at all sure that the writers actually know where they're supposed to be going...

The kids didn't sound Irish to me, but I agree about the Dublin skyline (was ranting about it to my brother yesterday - surely it's possible to superimpose a London cityscape on the shots?) and the school, at least re the vending machine and locking the doors. Also, all those chemicals being left out in the science room? Definitely unlikely.

Another thing that annoyed me was that all the pots and pans in the kitchen remained on the shelves - have they forgotten the anomalies are magnetic, and what happened in 1.04?

Interesting speculation on Matt. If he's where I think he's from, he probably didn't go to school, or at least not in any way we'd recognise.

The creatures are featured in one of the Walking With series, but I can't remember off-hand if they travelled in packs or groups while stalking their prey.

I rather think they were shown as being in pairs.

Yeah, it was okay, but I am not at all impressed by the writing this season.
Me either, to be honest. A friend and I were dissecting the episode after it aired, and we both agreed that having been given the opportunity to make two whole more series of a show thought to be dead and buried, you'd think that TPTB would have worked extra hard to make the scripts stonkingly brilliant and ultra-tight continuity and storytelling-wise. The last couple of episodes have been average when they should have been so much more than that.

I was counting the recycled plot elements as well, and that school looked more like a prison to me. My very first reaction was that it was St. Brutus'!

this means that the day after Connor has (quite correctly) called Burton an idiot, he is defending him to Abby, on the subject of killing the beasts, including Rex
That bit of the plot made almost no sense to me at all. Mostly I think that without having seen the first two episodes of this series or ep 3.10, you wouldn't believe that Connor and Abby have spent a year in the Cretaceous as quite literally the only two human beings in existence. They should have a much tighter bond than arguing over Connor being Burton's fanboy or what would happen to the creatures if Burton had his way. In my opinion.

A heck of a lot was recycled from S1 *g*.

Driving the wedge between Abby and Connor so clumsily made me want to bang my head on the desk!

As ever, I am more shallow than a shallow thing. The Dublin skyline doesn't worry me as in my personal head canon, the ARC is somewhere outside London, and I'm not too worried about or focussed on the backdrop.

I liked the fact that we saw competent shooting for once, and enjoyed the fact that Becker got to have a decent episode.

There wasn't a lot of tension for me regarding the kill the critters subplot as I couldn't believe for an instant that Lester would let the mammoth down. That would have been to OOC for words, even for these writers.

I do wish the writers would do a better job of plot set-up, for instance it would have been easier to have had the kids break into the school to upload the vid-clip, rather than detention, which would have been a better explanation for them wanting to avoid men with guns.

But, overall, I still liked this one a lot, but as ever, I check most of my critical faculties in at the door.

The Dublin skyline doesn't bother me either. I'm used to watching quite a few shows with substitute backdrops. I like the idea of the kids breaking into the school to upload the video.

"... he is defending him to Abby, on the subject of killing the beasts, including Rex."

Ooook, I definitely have to re-watch the episode because I missed important lines (I was watching it quite late at night and I missed a few things). Now I understand why Abby was so angry with Connor at the end, I thought she was over-reacting, that he had to go away because of the anomaly, but he wanted to help her later.

Anyway, I'm quite annoyed with the Abby/Connor problems again, they were happily together for what? 2 episodes? (the first one doesn't count, they were the only 2 humans alive).

Abby was given the choice of getting the beasts back through the anomalies or having them put down. Connor was aware of this, but I don't think he believed Burton meant it...

(Deleted comment)
Bad managers are bad managers. I rather think Burton may be based on the public personas of people like Alan Sugar.

>Unfortunately, this means that the day after Connor has (quite correctly) called Burton an idiot, he is defending him to Abby,
possibly because Connor's program (with Rex roaming loose) is why Burton was nearly killed.

and, thus far, nobody's said that Abby knows anything about the incident. (which may explain why Res is still roaming loose)

>and Matt doesn't remember it
didn't he say, near the end, that he had trouble finding classrooms?

I suspect that, even as early as s2 and the last half of s1, they were drawing from earlier episodes for plots.

and the salt puzzled me as well; I can only think it was to stop Becker from dripping all over everything. (Creatures seem to have preternatural blood-droplet--detection abilities)

until told otherwise, I'll assume the theracephalians were getting ready to either hibernate/estivate/mate - and, like garter snakes and rattlesnakes, do so in vast numbers.

But the whole mess in the last episode occurred because Burton didn't brief Connor properly and then panicked!

Garter and rattlesnakes aren't remotely related to the synapsids, which are closer to modern mammals than modern snakes (or even most modern reptiles.) Snakes are also a lot smaller. When big animals, and in particular big mammals (the possibility that some theracephalian were endotherms is up there with the possibility that some had poisonous bites - unproven speculation) hibernate, they do so in solitary splendour. However, I can see that that is possibly the explanation the writers would give.

Edited at 2011-01-18 08:32 am (UTC)

I'm with you on most of this. I'd noticed the way they seem to be replaying tropes from the earlier series (it reminds me a bit of Eddings Mallorean books where even the characters go round saying, "But didn't this happen before?" Which means they're more on the ball than the Primeval characters!)

I can't even imagine what the idea was with the salt. And, really, if Connor is going to cook something up in the science lab as a solution to a plot problem we should really have been told what it was. And it's really, really unlikely that there would have been that many creatures local to the plot, given they are evidently carnivores. (And while this is arguable, it's unlikely that mammal-like reptiles would have had the brain power for the social cohesion required to maintain a carnivore pack. It's not like a herbivores where instinctive grouping behaviour may provide a reproductive advantage.) And the chances of venom from that long ago affecting us now? Okay, not impossible but still unlikely. (I'd have given that a pass if any of the other science was good.

I started rewatching S1 the other day and, apart from the problem that since doing my Cutter meta I can pretty much quote any scene he's in word for word, I started to remember why I became so "fannish" about it. The characters are better drawn and believable. The plots have a warmth, drama (and variety!) that is much more engaging. The ongoing arc is intriguing... I'm not feeling that this time when every plot just seems to be ab extended chase.

Why didn't they just move the Arc to Dublin in the story? A joint Anglo-Irish project? Hell, just make Burton Irish and have him have influence with both the Irish and British governments and it wouldn't be completely impossible. At least not as impossible as a lot of other things in the series!

"local to the plot"

Local to the anomaly. This is your brain on too little sleep...

The closest modern analogy to what we were shown in the episode is the Komodo Dragon which, it should be noted, does not run fast or hunt in packs (which implies speed and brainpower, either of which these beasties have). Komodo dragons are thick and, like most lizards, can put on an impressive burst of speed of very short duration. Just enough to have a brief chomp at their prey so the venom in their salive can start to work. They then slowly track the animal as the venom brings it down many hours or days later. This is not a strategy that lends itself to pack animals.

Now if *I* know this (and I suspect you, and several other members of the comm do too) it wouldn't be that hard for the writers to do some very basic research and get it closer to right. Or, you know, run the plot ideas past an animal behaviour expert? Or even a zoology student...

neither! *Neither* of which these beasties have! *headdesk*

I really liked this episode even though I can see a lot of your points. I did some googling on the salt thing and apparently it can be used as a natural antiseptic in a pinch. I don't see how it would really help the poison situation, but at least it's a wound related use.

See steamshovelmama's informed (she used to be a nurse) assessment of the salt thing below.

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