Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Remarkable Return of Primeval
I was flipping through the channels the other day when I made a discovery of great archeological significance: Starting this month, the fourth season of Primeval will hit the airwaves.
For those of you who have no idea what Primeval is, it's one of the best "monster of the week" horror/sci-fi TV shows I've ever seen. While many other sci-fi/horror shows do whatever they can to avoid being classified as "monster of the week" shows, Primeval takes the idea and proudly runs with it. Since a fourth season of Primeval was left up in the air after the third season's cliffhanger finale, it's great to see this show back on its (clawed) feet.
Primeval's overarching premise is simple. A series of unexplainable "anomalies", which are wormhole-like portals to our distant past, start appearing randomly all over Great Britain. Various prehistoric creatures emerge from these portals (mostly dinosaurs, but there have been others) and a combined team of prehistoric experts and military personnel are regularly dispatched to either return the creatures to the portals and their eras of origin or--if a portal closes before this happens--find some way to contain the creatures. As the series progressed, the team learned more about the anomalies, some of which also act as portals to Earth's distant post-human future and the frightening, deadly creatures from that mysterious era.
One of the biggest challenges behind "monster of the week" shows is maintaining a special effects budget to keep the monsters interesting. If you go back to early shows of this type such as the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, "monster of the week" often meant "man in fake-looking monster costume of the week"--ergo, the stigma associated with the "monster of the week" label. Thankfully, Primeval has maintained a pretty impressive level of quality creature effects work during its first three seasons (Land of the Lost this isn't), and the fourth season looks to continue that standard.
I could say plenty more about Primeval, such as its large cast of characters and subplots, but it's best to see it for yourself--if you love TV shows about monsters, you'll be impressed. Catch up with the first three seasons of Primeval, each of which are available on DVD, and then watch the new episodes on BBC America.