|Courtesy of Impossible Pictures|
It really is a case of one step forward, many, many steps back for this show. For every sign of improvement, it falls back on the cavalcade of flaws that make the series next to unbearable.
For instance, STOP CALLING EVERYTHING DINOSAURS! While Terror Birds were, like all birds, evolutionarily related to dinosaurs, I know that every time they say the "D" word, they aren't using it in that context. They are using it as a catch-all to describe every single organism that appears from the far side of the anomalies. Which is stupid and ignorant and mind-gratingly annoying. And for two whole episodes a while back, they realised their mistake, and started using more generic terminology, like "creature" or "animal", words that make sense when used in sentences. Every time this show says the word dinosaurs when they mean just any old animal, it makes me want to put a fork through my eye.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also don't overly rely on sense and reason to get things done.
A casual viewer would not have had to apologise for thinking they had stumbled onto a couple episodes of Stargate with these last two, what with the obvious recycling of the of SG uniforms, the involvement of Amanda Tapping and Martin Wood behind the camera, and the guest appearance by Louis Ferreira, former Destiny commander and various bit actors that turned up on the series over the years. However, the resemblance to that long running franchise ends pretty much there, as Primeval continues to disappoint on a regular basis. Clearly, those isolated midseason episodes that showed a glimmer of hope and quality were outliers, the sort of statistically irrelevant data points that appear within any system.
The show does itself no favours by casting actors like Louis Ferreira, who despite what they are being expected to say out loud, manage to turn out a performance that puts ever other on this show to shame. It was jarring to watch the scenes between Ferreria and the regular cast, as they were separated by leagues of ability. And considering that Niall Matter at least was decent enough on Eureka, I place the blame entirely on a bad script that the actors don't care enough about. To be fair too, Ferreria had an easy role, a Bond-style villain, who spends his entire time gloating or exposising on his plan. Thank goodness he resisted the urge to ring his hands together, now if only they had decided to sit the hell down.
These episodes featured the big reveal of the military plan, which was pretty by the book, though the touch about wanting to fix global warming by fixing it before it's a problem was unique and interesting. Shame that the second of these episodes was nothing more then a glorified clip show, a failure of decompression, and a sign that even with only 13 episodes, they still couldn't figure out how to fill each of those hours.
The show continues to try to illicit an emotional reaction out of the audience concerning the characters, without doing any of the work establishing the characters in a way that they are emotionally relevant to the audience. These two episodes focused more on the character Leeds then any before, and the growing gap between his initial intentions and the final results. Except this character has never been established as any one thing for him to then turn from. To the Cross team, he's always seemed bumbling and much like a small dog desperate for attention, and the viewer has known that he is treacherous. So, when he sides with Cross, it's meant to go against what the viewer assumes about him. Except, we've more often seen him as the bumbling Clouseau character, and I for one had always assumed that he was just following orders. Which, it turns out, he was. Until he turned on the military. So that was the big shock, and the dramatic turn in his character. Except all throughout his interrogation, he keeps on about how he still essentially behind the military mission. Just not it's methods.
His loyalty is to Cross then, except we've never seen him express this loyalty to Cross himself. Even when he has tried to help, it's always been in the least helpful way, and under the role of Project: Magnet. So his betrayal of Cross comes off as ineffective, because he was only doing his job. Which leads back to the first point. They must have realised they never defined the character's motivations, and figured if they just threw everything at the viewer, they'd go cross-eyed and assume that the writers knew what they were doing.
So much of what the show tries to do just falls flat. The instantaneous recognition of the Terror Bird by Dylan came off as nothing more then a ridiculous way to move past a plot hole. So too was the utterly tensionless cold open of episode 11, where presumably we were meant to be shocked or surprised by the return of Mac, except because the "main" cast revolves on this show and regularly take multiple episodes off, it landed with nothing more then "and Mac is in this one." The return of Ang, who I figured they had just gotten rid of entirely, and had called into question the logic behind her inclusion to begin with, reappears, and has a wildly uneven and directionless scene with Cross where they make EMOTION at one another. I'm not certain exactly which emotion they were going for, but it came off as a mixture of anger and having to sneeze.
And I have no idea what they were going for in the closing moments of episode 11. Just no idea. It seemed like most of the slowly filmed and set to depressing music scenes were complete without context. Considering that I spent most of these episodes waiting for the hour to be over, maybe it was a way to jarringly distract the viewer. Maybe it was meant to mean something. Maybe it's setting up the two part season (series, hopefully) finale. And maybe I might care. Except I don't.
This thing is almost over, folks. Just a couple more weeks.