At last, the long wait after Danny jumps through the anomaly to pursue his nefarious brother is over! But do we start with a resolution to that cliff hanger? No. Gosh, darn it!
It opens rather prosaically with Lester sat in a traffic jam while some workmen are drilling in the road. A big crater opens up and one of them disappears into the big hole and is taken by what appears to be a big ugly bug.
We cut away to the slimy Philip Burton, portrayed rather nicely by Alexander Siddig, who is watching a video of Danny Quinn with keen interest. Philip then confronts Matt and quizzes him on what Danny may have said. It seems as though this interest of his in Danny is going to be a major theme in the coming episodes.
Philip then walks into Connor’s lab where he’s talking with Abby, having been there for 24 hours and getting smelly. Abby leaves and Philip starts telling Connor that his theories on convergence are interesting…but just theories. Asks Connor to go somewhere with him and to leave his comms behind. Matt sees them walking off together and the next thing we know Abby catches him red-handed in Connor’s lab trying to hack the computer. He says it’s all about Philip and asks her to trust him, but “trust has to be earned” says Abby. Fast forward 40 minutes or so and guess what? He earns Abby’s trust and lets her in on (part of?) his big secret. Didn’t see that coming…
These first 10 to 15 minutes introduce us to the threads that will probably run through this series.
On the comic front, we have the running gag with Lester thinking that he’s being interviewed to check his suitability for a knighthood, but in the end it turns out that it’s actually for Philip. This is all played with the usual understated panache of the superbly comic Ben Miller who manages to keep Lester on just the right side of parody with his dry wit.
Apart from the actual “monster of the week” storyline, which in itself gives Connor the chance to be the hero of the day, we have Philip Burton trying to find out what Danny Quinn was saying, and this seems to be quite important to him for some reason. At the same time he is manipulating Connor into doing the brain work for the project known as New Dawn, which he claims will provide limitless free energy for the world. Can the slimebag really be that altruistic or is there more to it than that? I’d put money on the latter, myself!
Andrew-Lee Potts acquits himself admirably as the goofy nerd Connor Temple. Again, like Ben Miller, he manages to keep the portrayal on the right side of outright clown and manages to squeeze out the dry wit in equal measure. Typical example is when he’s injured and trapped with the bugs, Matt calls him a genius and he replies, “so everyone keeps telling me, but I’m still surrounded by flesh eating bugs”. He also shows childlike joy when introduced to “New Dawn” by Philip and he probably had a nerdgasm when told that the bespectacled April would be his new assistant!
Speaking of April, who was obviously chosen to appeal to Connor’s geek senses, she seems to have been put in place to keep Connor under control for Philip. Which, again, makes you wonder what part the two of them play in the upcoming disaster with the anomalies.
This all leads nicely to the Matt’s part of the plot where he finally confirms to Abby this week that he is from the future and is here to prevent a catastrophe with the anomalies that will eventually destroy the world. He asks her to keep it quiet as Connor and Philip seem to be at the center of what’s about to happen.
So, whilst Primeval is probably not going to win Hugos or BAFTAs or even TV Choice awards, it does serve up the mysteries and keep you interested enough to keep watching in the coming weeks. I really enjoy the characters and never tire of watching Ben Miller or Hannah Spearritt (For quite different reason, I hasten to add).
Becker is a good strong character, but I think he really needs his own storyline and development. And not just a romantic link with Jess, either. Otherwise, he just seems to be the hired muscle which is a waste, I feel. Mind you he does get given some good lines, particularly this week with his brief excitement at the prospect of being given a tank and then winding up Lester about it.
And what about Danny? I’m hoping he’s back soon and we learn some more about what his brother’s been up to and if Helen Cutter was tangled up in there somewhere.
Of course all will be revealed going forward into series five, but it looks to be an interesting and enjoyable ride from what we have seen here at the start of the series.