Saturday, 1 January 2011


[21.35 - French Time] Axed by ITV after its third series for financial motives Primeval was resurrected by an unexpected funding deal in september 2009, for 13 new episodes split into "series four" and "series five". ITV1 aired tonight the first episode of the revived show.

[Spoiler-Free review]

The new Primeval started filming in Ireland in March 2010 and the 13 episodes (series four is a 7-episode block) are co-produced by Impossible Pictures, German private channel Prosieben, Ingenious Broadcasting, UKTV's channel Watch and BBC America for ITV/BBC Worldwide. The show is produced in association with Irish film and TV producer Treasure Entertainment with the support of investment incentives for the Irish film industry provided by the Government of Ireland.

Primeval clearly sank with a third series affected by the departure of its star (Douglas Henshall as Nick Cutter), unfortunate cast changes, terrible stories, the total waste of the "mythology" and a poor cliffhanger ending. This fourth series practically starts from scratch with new locations, some new faces and a first episode introduced by a Ben Miller voice over. Miller is one of the remaining Primeval original cast members as James Lester, until now boss of the Anomaly Research Centre (ARC).

Andrew-Lee Potts (Connor Temple), Hannah Spearitt (Abby Maitland) and Ben Mansfield (Becker) are back too but Primeval has a new lead: Irish actor Ciarán McMenamin as Matt Anderson. The character is definitely a far better team leader replacement than Jason Flemyng as Danny Quinn in the previous series. Irish actress Ruth Kearney joins the cast as Jess Parker and should do wonders provided that her character doesn't ask the ARC field team to bow down before an Egyptian croco.

No stranger to popular genre television, the charismatic Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) brings his class as wealthy scientist and industrialist Philip Burton. Prospero, Burton's company, is involved with the Anomaly Research Centre in a public/private partnership - much for the annoyance of Lester. Time will tell if the charming but tough businessman reveals himself as a perfect corporate villain, but when Connor and Abby exit from a one-year Cretaceous trap they discover that their workplace is not the old ARC anymore.

And indeed it isn't. The Irish locations brings some fresh air and this series premiere shows a real potential. As long as it can be properly developed past this spectacular exposition episode written by Paul Mousley (with welcome touches of humour) and directed by Mark Everest. There's a revamped intro and nice incidental music by composer Stephen McKeon. Another interesting element is the mysterious Gideon, played by Anton Lesser, who has ties with Matt Anderson.

ITV1 will show Episode 2 tomorrow.

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