Monday, January 17, 2011

Primeval: Series 4 Episode 4

This week's Primeval episode was much better than last week's and one full of tense, dark moments during which a few school kids have to survive against a small herd of venomous dino-dogs (therocephalians, apparently). Although you didn't actually see anything other than a severed arm from a distance, this episode was sort of gory and certainly very shocking for an early Saturday evening TV show. It was nearly as 'behind the sofa' scary as some episodes of Doctor Who.

An anomaly opens in a surprisingly high-tech school (even the locks on the doors are controlled by an unmanned computer system) where, because it is supposedly outside normal hours, there's only 3 kids stuck behind on detention overseen by just one teacher. Seems a little unlikely but still. A dino-dog emerges from the temporal gateway and quickly eats the teacher all before the title sequence - and the ARC team - turns up.

Well, I say ARC team - it just seemed to be Matt, Becker and Connor. Where were all the rifle-wielding, black-ops back-up soldiers? Were they on annual leave that day? Unfortunately, the three of them aren't quick enough to save the X-Factor-wannabe teenaged girl from becoming the second victim to these dinosaurs during a chilling encounter in the gym. Because of this death, Jess decides not to help Abby release all the other dinos - due for extermination after being deemed too dangerous to remain alive by Phillip - from the Menagerie at the ARC.

It seems a little late for the characters to suddenly get emotional and morose now after all the other public deaths we've seen on the show. For example, a number of homeless people and construction workmen were killed by a giant prehistoric alligator just two episodes ago but no one seemed bothered that much about them. Perhaps they were not pretty or young enough? Still, I guess it was about time they showed a more human side to these people.

Knowing what Abby has in mind, Lester has a friendly chat with Phillip and points out that once the existence of the time anomalies and dinosaurs get out, Phillip's legacy as the "dinosaur killer" might not sit well with him. This leads to a reprieve for the wooly mammoth, and the other creatures unseen due to budgetary constraints, but does raise another question.

It's often inferred that the government, via the ARC, is covering up the dinosaur attacks and that the public are therefore unaware of these incursions from the past (and future). And yet, right from the very first episode of the first series, Nick Cutter and Connor investigate the Forest of Dean because of a newspaper photograph of a dinosaur.

Since then, there have been various other high profile incidents - the afore-mentioned mammoth rampaging across the M25, a stegosaurus in the Houses of Parliament - plus all the other incidents where dinosaurs have run through the daytime city streets (such as the Spinosaurus in episode 1 of this series or the dino-croc in the first episode of series 3). Surely plenty of people have now seen these creatures and started asking questions?

Also, a lot of people have been killed, such as the teacher and the girl in this episode. Does no one outside the ARC crew investigate their cause of death or wonder where they are and what happened to them? What do they put down on their death certificates - eaten by an escaped tiger from the local zoo?

Anyway, in the end, the remaining kids are saved after Becker encounters a whole room full of these dino-dogs. He gets injected with venom but thankfully is saved by Matt, who somehow manages to wrestle a dino-dog into submission (is the guy superhuman or something?), and Connor, who concocts some handy smoke bombs in the chemistry lab. Even though just minutes before Matt said Becker had only 30 seconds to live before the venom killed him, everyone seems to pronounce him okay once they've knocked out the demon dogs and finally called for medical back-up (perhaps they should've done that earlier?). Connor must've included some miraculous cure in those smoke bombs.

Although there was very little of the ongoing storyline other than Emily, the Victorian woman from last week's episode, being abducted by Ethan, this was still a well-directed, thrilling episode. Yes, there were plenty of silly little things in the plot but, for me, these weren't enough to spoil it.

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