Sunday, 29 March 2009


"The Great British public" deserves absolute respect for its patience. Primeval Series 3 started in Spain last sunday and in Germany one day later. Whereas viewers in the UK had to wait March 28 to watch the premiere on ITV1, right after Harry Hill's TV Burp (patience? Let's rather say holiness). But they had to coin toss first, Robin Hood Series 3 starting 30 minutes ahead on BBC1.


So, the Anomalies Research Center's finest fierce creatures hunters are back minus Stephen but with a new military minder, Captain Becker. Nick Cutter tries to cope with Stephen's death when business as usual rings at the ARC with troubles in the British Museum. There, the team meets an egyptologist named Sarah Page (who must have attented the Samantha Jane Marquez University), and the monster of the week: a giant croc - no, not Gustave - with a serious ego problem, because the pet believes it's an Egyptian God.

James Lester deals with another giant source of problems for him and the ARC: Christine Johnson, a Home Office high ranking official with intelligence connections. Johnson is the assigned supervisor of Lester's operations but has an agenda of her own: to find a mysterious artefact. But her military operative is the sole survivor of his squad after a close encounter of the unkind kind under the form of the hideous predators seen in previous seasons.

In the meantime, the Egyptian reptile plays a sick joke on a London traffic warden, goes on a shopping spree much to the disapproval of Cutter, Abby and Becker, and is kind enough to return to the museum. Then newbie Sarah, who's expert in megalo croc psychology, hints that the crocodile only needs a little respect and that they'll not be eaten if they bow down. This expertise in Egyptian gods anger management brings her aboard ARC, as Nick Cutter offers her the task to establish a "pattern" of anomalies from the bestiary of mythological creatures.


The first series of Primeval was a big budget pleasant surprise, a sort of fictional spin-off of the previous entries from Impossible Pictures (Walking with Dinosaurs, Prehistoric Park). The second series had a better format (introduced by the cliffhanger twist of series 1), a better construction (a 7 episode story-arc), a better characterization, and a wonderful casting addition with formidable English comedian Karl Theobald as Oliver Leek. That's why we expected a lot of the premiere of this third series.

But the script of this episode is swimming with sharks. We don't buy the magnanimity of the crocodile, the mythological stuff, or Connor as the comic relief after a road from a couple of years to maturity. And the introduction of four new cast members (Jason Flemyng arrives next week) recalls us that British television loves to kill regular characters.

Ben Miller as Lester, and Juliet Aubrey as super wacko Helen Cutter (super villainess outfit included), literally steal Series 3 Episode 1 by their astounding presence. The climax with Helen, her army of clones, and the artefact in the ruins of a modern city left on a prehistoric landscape (Planet of the Apes? London after a re-development program gone awry?) allow us to hope for interesting twists and turns. Tip to the Beeb: Juliet Aubrey would be magnificent as The Rani in Doctor Who.

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