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12 January 2011 @ 05:21 pm
Primeval 4.02  
I'm tempted to simply cut-and-paste my review of 4.01 in order to discuss 4.02 since I feel they share many of the same strengths and weaknesses.

The structure and pacing of the episode was clumsy again. Most notably the sequence in the container park appeared as an after-thought, as if they realised they'd run out of plot fifteen minutes early and needed to pad the episode with a Who-esque capture/escape sequence and some corridors. A story in which the creature's capture isn't the end is a nice idea but you need to do more with it than this to make it work.

The character work continues to be stronger than in season 3 and I particularly liked Matt's reactions while watching Abby with Rex. I strongly believe one of the problems with season three was that there was no real differention between the one-to-one interactions of the new characters: Becker, for instance, treated Danny, Sarah, Connor and Abby in an identical fashion. So it's nice to see some effort here going into differentiating how Jess, for instance, interacts with Becker and Matt. It was also nice to see the show catch up with Duncan (even if I wasn't entirely overjoyed about his transformation from loser geek to loser conspiracy theorist geek) and to see the way it contrasted Connor with his former friend. It does seem likely, however, that he's about to be entirely forgotten again until convenient, when you would hope that Connor would start to make some kind of effort to re-engage with and help his old friend.

Lots about the background set up continues to be a bit sloppy from Lester's apparent inability to find any kind of job for Connor (even if he couldn't provide a front-line one) to the conditions in which the animals are being kept. Not to mention offering Abby a job and apparently expecting her to start it ten minutes later less than twenty-four hours, it would appear, since she returned from the Cretaceous. Dramatically speaking, I also thought it odd to both raise and resolve the possibility that Connor wouldn't be able to work at the ARC in the space of a single episode.

I enjoyed this episode. Despite complaining above I think some of its faults (in particular its thoughtlessness about basic set up) are endemic to the series, things you need to accept and move on from if you are to enjoy the show (although I don't suppose that will stop me pointing them out in future). So far season four is appearing clumsier when it comes to structuring episodes than season 3 was, but better at its character work. That is presumably a sign of a different hand at the script editor tiller although neither wikipedia nor the Primeval Wiki are much interested in telling me the names of production people. Overall, much as I'm a fan of a well structured plot, I think this shift in strength is to the show's advantage.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/31030.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 12th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
I think Adrian Hodges may have has a heavier hand in an editorial role this time, which might account for better character interactions, although that is purely guesswork.

I liked the way Duncan was brought back, and I don't think the conspiracy theory stuff was out of character, so that worked OK for me. I greatly disliked yet another member of the security team being munched. It really isn't necessary to kill one person a week to maintain dramatic tension, even though the writers clearly think it is.

Overall, I liked the ep, but again, I don't disagree with any of your observations. Giving Connor the push from the project as a whole really didn't make any sense at all.
louisedennislouisedennis on January 12th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
It wasn't that Duncan became a conspiracy nut that particularly got me it was just the combination of geek-socially inadquate-unable to cope in the real world-conspiracy theorist-paranoid-generally a bit pathetic that just made me sigh and roll my eyes a bit.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 12th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I didn't actually find a problem with the way Duncan was drawn. I think after what had happened over the dodos and Tom's death, his descent to paranoid drop-out seemed fairly believable. After out-of-time dodos and killer parasites, presumably followed up by simply being swept under the carpet would probably be enough for a lot of people, especially if inclined towards social inadequacy in the first instance.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on January 12th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
I agree with your take on it. I'm enjoying it more than S3 and I'm sure that's because of the characterisation, which tends to interest me above everything else in books and TV. Becker has developed a character in the course of two eps whereas he didn't have one last series! And even though Abby and Connor barely interest me as a rule, this time I've been more engaged with their plotline.

It wouldn't be Primeval if you couldn't drive a coach and horses through the plots or deal in geek stereotypes *g*.

And we should make a list of the number of shows that have used the container base plot!