Primeval: New World
Episode 1: The New World
By: Carlos Uribe
Primeval: New World is a show about dinosaurs that pop out of time portals to attack modern Vancouver.
I'm going to begin this episode with a simple question:
Is the original Primeval this bad?
I've never seen the original show but it managed to last five seasons on British television. It surely had to be better than this because Primeval: New World is one of the worst pilots I've seen from Canada. It's no surprise that this show got canceled because it forgets the real reason people tune in to watch any show: the characters. The plot is important and it shouldn't be neglected but it's nothing if it doesn't have the strong characters to be in it. The Following is a plot-heavy show but it didn't have any strong characters. It became a huge, unbearable mess where all of the plot twists and violence felt meaningless because it didn't have a good grasp on any of it's characters. It might not have started out that way but Fringe would have a complicated serialized plot but it's flaws were easily ignored because of it's strong use of compelling characters. It's true that a lot of so-called character dramas (The Walking Dead) struggle with creating good characters or end up giving them a disjointed, terrible plot (Flashforward). The former is because it's difficult to come up with compelling characters while the latter is because too much concentration was given to the characters. The ideal show should strive towards having a great plot, strong characters, and organic dialogue. Primeval: New World doesn't bother to really set up it's characters and the dialogue all feels stilted. The only part it really goes for is a plot but it ends up miserably. In other words, Primeval: New World is such an epic failure because it doesn't really try with two of the key ingredients to a good show and then completely botches up the one ingredient it concentrates on. It's a big mess of a show and one that gives no viewer any reason to come back. I'm guessing Primeval was better than this piece of garbage. I'm guessing that the creators of this “spin-off” thought that they didn't need to put in a lot of effort because fans of the original were going to watch it. I sincerely hope they abandoned this show as soon as they realized just how horrible it was. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Primeval was just as bad and the fans don't care about strong characters or good dialogue. Maybe they just want to watch dinosaurs. I don't know but my first introduction to the franchise was not a good one.
The thing about watching the pilot for Primeval: New World is that I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to know. Is the “agent” that contacts the so-called protagonist on this show a member of the organization from the original or is he an antagonist? I knew absolutely nothing going in other than to expect dinosaurs. I guess fans of the original could point out the things I should have known going in but honestly that's what a pilot is for: explaining concepts to potential new fans. Anyways, the plot for the pilot is pretty terrible. A few characters that work for some kind of unspecified company find a time portal that has dinosaurs. They have to deal with this threat even as they don't completely understand what the portal is. It's not a bad plot on paper. If anything, having the characters discover this with the audience is a wise move. The problem is in the execution. It all feels rushed, the way the plot unfolds feels like the writers have to uncover territory they want to get over with, and it's just all very lackluster. It doesn't help that there's a lot of bare-bones expositional dialogue about the premise itself. There was no attempt to make the journey interesting for the viewer. Everything just happens because it's supposed to and there's very little sense of excitement. It's noteworthy about how much the show set up but how little was established. What's the company they work for? What kind of CEO personally hires security guards? How is a government agency that looks abandoned have the kind of access that allows characters through cordoned-off areas? It doesn't help that this never feels like it's set in the real world but rather an alternative one where there isn't a lot of logic. Primeval: New World spent so much time with plot but it's so weak that I can't help but wonder why nobody pointed out the script was still in an early rough draft stage. If it had been tightened up then Primeval: New World could have at least presented a tighter plot that might have actually made what happens during the narrative matter by developing characters and their relationships.
The biggest example comes when an old man dies at the end. This is supposed to be a sad moment because he had been close to the protagonist and some park ranger we met along the way. We barely knew because he was in like only two scenes so his death felt meaningless. It was also predictable since he had complained about how he was too old. There is no impact on the audience because the old man was never actually a character. He was there to die and so that his name could be used to have the park ranger trust the protagonist. I'm serious: that's basically it. Anyways, the impact on the audience might be non-existent but it does impact two characters. The protagonist basically gets over the death pretty quickly but the person who really grieves is the park ranger. I mean she's not sad enough she can't perform a quick “how he died” speech to the nearby paramedics but she does get chocked up. The problem? The only time the two had interacted was over the phone. The script tries to basically set up that the two were close without actually having them be in the same room together. We have no idea what the nature of their relationship was other than some kind did exist at one point. The other big example I can think of is when that security guard that gets promoted to field agent or whatever. He talks about how there's more to him that meets the eye. Does the pilot give him a chance to prove this? Of course not because that would mean he's a character who has a skill beyond shooting things. Which is basically all he does. Why is he in the show? What role does he play? It's bad enough he's bland but he feels pretty useless. It's not like the show can use the whole “let's explain everything through the new guy” excuse since all of the characters are learning with the audience. That and the park ranger character could also fill that role. In other words? He's just there so that his actor can get a paycheck. I guess it's good he can pay his bills but I'm sure he was hoping for an actual character to play when he became an actor or signed on to this show. Gah, this show sucks.
It should go without saying that the show sucks at the character department at this point. The protagonist is Evan Cross, an inventor who formed his own company. I'm not sure what the company does but it gives him the cover to basically look for time portals. He has a reason for doing so and it's dead girlfriend...friend.....fiance....wife...sister....something. Does it matter? Of course not because the flashback revealing the reason he was hellbent on finding the portals was actually used to reveal that he had met someone from the agency that had earlier approached him. Seriously, everything on this pilot is geared towards plot rather than setting up characters, premise, and relationships. Oh, and the whole dead girl that was close to him being the driving force would be such a cliché if Evan was actually a character. He meets across a park ranger, Dylan, who also has no personality but her role is that she can alert the team when dinosaurs are attacking. The newbie of the team is Mac, a bland human body who basically contributes very little to the show. The tech geek of the show is Toby, who will be able to do anything sciency the show requires. The business head of the company is Angelika, who basically serves as a character that connects the characters to her government contact. She also complains about liabilities and budgets in a failed effort to ground this show in the real world-only it's all talk. The government contract is the show's “quirky” character, Ken Leeds. He basically acts as the conduit for which our team will have access to any location they need to enter.
Primeval: New World is a terrible show. The pilot is atrocious and it's hard to see this series improving within the thirteen episodes that it has. The characters are non-existent-there's just the roles that necessitate their existence. That is except for Mac who has no reason to be on this show. The relationships aren't established because that would mean spending time with these characters outside of just developing the plot. As for the plot? It's a giant predictable mess. You know what this series reminds me off? Those old, crappy science fiction shows that had no budget but had some entertainment value due to the poor production values and because they generally had fun. Primeval: New World has no fun, it doesn't have the poor production values to be funny, and it's just a big, giant bore. I sincerely hope the original Primeval wasn't this bad...but that would only make New World a giant slap in the face to it's fans.