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31 January 2011 @ 06:19 pm
Primeval 4.05  
What struck me most, oddly perhaps, about this episode was the lack of on-screen chemistry between Andrew Lee-Potts and Hannah Spearritt.

Being unfamiliar, as I am, with the London skyline and not particularly invested in the idea that anomalies only open within an hour's drive of the capital this was the first episode in which the location move to Dublin for filming was really very obvious. My first thought, before I recalled where the shooting was taking place, was that they had gone to Scotland for the episode. Since the episode clearly flagged that the action was all taking place within a couple of hour's drive of the ARC and, even if the ARC wasn't necessarily in London, it was clearly Midlands or Home Counties, believability was stretched a little there, even more-so when we met the (are you) locals.

The monster of the week plot was pretty throwaway without the taughtness of setting/direction that made 4.04 stand out and the absence of Ben Mansfield was odd. I assume there was some contractual reason he wasn't at least sitting around at the ARC complaining that his leg was preventing him getting into the field. It reminded me a little of some of the early Doctor Who episodes which, because they were being shot 50 weeks of the year, would have Doctor absent while William Hartnell went on holiday. However having disposed of Becker, the script seemed to entirely forget that there are, actually, other soldiers available - or maybe the new Private-Public ARC could only afford four soldiers and having eaten one in each of the first three episodes and then taken a chunk out of Becker's leg in the last, no one remained to provide back up. I perfectly understand the dramatic constraints that cause the script writers to want to limit the number of people running around, but to suggest that there is a military team and then write an episode in which key parts of the action hinge around there being no other personnel available is clumsy at best.

I keep wanting to say something about Ciaren McMenamin and the Matt character in these posts but I'm still very much making my mind up about him. When I'm being charitable I think there is some fascinating work going here. A man, clearly unsuited for an infiltration role because he too impulsively connects with those he encounters, but presumably forced into it because there is no one else available. He's trying to keep a lid on his own natural tendency to form close bonds with his team because he understands the importance of the mission but his own character is working against him. He's unsuitable as the cool-headed leader of this kind of group because of his own recklessness but, of course, his credentials were all forged so the ARC can not be blamed for being unaware of this and, in short, there is a neat little tragedy waiting to happen there. When I'm being uncharitable I think it's all a sloppy mess, but so far he seems potentially more coherent and thought out than either Burton or Jess. Time, I suppose, will tell.

And lastly, Connor and Abby: I realise that the writers, ill-advisedly I think but that's by-the-by, want to create dramatic tension by driving a wedge between them but in order for me to invest in that, when I had long grown tired of Connor/Abby UST I need to be convinced there's an actual relationship there and I'm just not seeing it. This is particularly odd considering Lee-Potts and Spearritt are engaged in real life. Obviously there are documented cases of couples who are shagging like bunnies off screen having all the onscreen chemistry of a wet flannel however, if the publicity is to be believed, half the reason we have the pairing in the first place is because of the actors' natural chemistry. So why is it gone? Where are the quick looks, the fleeting touches, the tiny signs that let you know two people are a couple - especially in the few scenes we get when Connor and Abby are out of the professional environment. I know the relationship is supposed to be under strain but, at the moment, we're at the beginning of the break down so we should be seeing more of what is going to be lost. The kiss Connor gave Abby at the end of this episode was not the kiss of man who is relieved his girlfriend is all right, it was the kiss of man who had to work up his courage to actually kiss the other person and was slightly anxious they would be angry or put out about it and Abby's reaction reminded me of nothing more than the Abby who is in denial about Connor's feelings of previous seasons. There was no real response to it just a kind of blanking out, an "I'll pretend it didn't happen". I'll be very sorry if Primeval becomes another sorry entry into the canon of shows that don't know how to handle resolved sexual tension, but the signs are not good.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/33726.html.
reggietate: connor-matt-lesterreggietate on January 31st, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
Interesting take on Matt. He strikes me as a touch implausible as a man who's trained for this mission for years - and I think in real life, Becker would spot him for a non-military type quite quickly.

The idea that all the anomalies seem to open so near to London/the ARC rather annoys me. At least in S1 and 2 there was some attempt to indicate that they happen in various places both near and far, and that it sometimes takes a while to get there. It's all of a piece with never not seeming to be able to work out the the sensible passage of time, both during and between eps.

The Connor-Abby thing is weird and I don't get it at all.

The no soldiers thing is even weirder, really. Presuming they're private security guys, Philip would surely replace them as necessary. I think it's partly down to the shift in emphasis from the creatures being interesting to them being merely something hostile to be shot at. Hence the EMDs, carried by the team, who in former days didn't go armed all the time. Though the EMDs are cool, and they do make sense, they make it much easier to justify the team going round shooting at things.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on January 31st, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
I'd been assuming that he did have a military background (such as exists in whenever he comes from), though maybe not of the kind his personnel file states. I'm also assuming that there may not be such a large pool of people to recruit from whenever and even if he has trained for years if his personality is basically reckless and trusting they may just have been stuck with him.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on January 31st, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have yet to be convinced by Matt at all, and I don't know whether it's CMcM's acting or the writing, or both.

As for the A/C storyline, words cannot express how bored I am with the whole thing. I don't care if they're together or apart -- I just want it resolved. The UST is beyond tiresome now. And I'm confused by the status of their relationship. One minute they're sharing a bed, the next they seem to be as apart as they ever were.

Abby is at least being given stuff to do. Connor seems to have reverted to series 1 annoying geek. And I seriously don't understand why she's telling him stuff about dinosaurs when he's supposed to be the person with the all-singing, all-dancing database.

I was bored with 4.05. Most of the problem for me is that I don't care enough about any of the team members. Not that they're ever together enough for any team bonding. Glimpses of Lester don't make up for this 'meh, whatever' feeling.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on January 31st, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
I seem to be in something of the minority when it comes to Matt. Most people seem to think bland and badly thought out are the order of the day.

But I do not get Abby and Connor at all. Potts seems to be playing it all in First-Girlfriend-First-Date mode which is stupid assuming, as I assume we're supposed to be assuming, they are actually sleeping together unless that is one truly messed up relationship (which is always a possibility but almost certainly not in the minds of the writers). As for Spearritt, she seems to be playing Abby exactly as she did before the two of them were an item. Apart from that brief moment at the end of 4.01 I'm not even sure why we should be assuming they are together. I was quite looking forward to some development with those two even if it was of the get-together then split up variety but it looks like it's going to be UST->More UST. It's almost as if the writers and directors are as scared of putting a relationship on screen as an adolescent boy would be of being in one. I have sympathy with them putting more of the animal knowledge Abby's way, they've always had a problem with too many dinosaur/animal experts and Connor at least has technical expertise to use instead (though Jess is suffering from too-may-experts syndrome in that area). I'm prepared to handwave that in this reality (the one where there is Jenny and not Claudia) Connor was always more of a computer/engineering person than he was in the original series.

We've got better team interaction than we had last year. Jess (though lord alone knows why) is the person Abby turns to when she needs support at work. Matt and Becker have their whole Matt and Becker thing going on. Jess fancies Becker. Matt respects Abby's ability with the animals and her competence in the field. Connor's on a bit of limb actually - he doesn't seem to be connecting with the others as much at all. But they've obviously got one too many cast members (Connor kept in the ARC in 4.03, Abby in 4.04, Becker missing in this ep). They shouldn't be making that sort of team composition mistake four series in, when they've had overful casts before.
fredbassettfredbassett on January 31st, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty much Ok with Matt as a character, but I stick to my claim that he really only comes alive when sparking off Becker.

The A/C thing is odd. My personal take on it is that Abby resents the fact that they got together in the Cretaceous as she feels it was done under false pretences, so she is now Denying it, hence the awkwardness.

I find Becker/Jess easier to buy into than A/C and interestingly, some of the A/C writers seem to be saying that the on screen chemistry, or lack of, has pretty much killed their muses, so we aren't the only ones noticing it.
reggietate: connor-matt-lesterreggietate on February 1st, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
The A/C thing would be better if there was any sort of on-screen reason for it, expressed by the characters themselves (yes, Connor didn't do as much as he could to back Abby up over the creatures, and yes, he's doing stuff for Philip, who Abby neither trusts nor likes, but that doesn't seem to be enough to cause the kind of rift we appear to be seeing).
lukadreaminglukadreaming on February 1st, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
Both Abby and Connor and A-LP and HS seem to have reverted to S1 in more ways than one. I know I have no interest whatsoever in the pairing, but I've always wanted to see more done with Abby. This time, though, the acting is patchy. I now resent the time they're on-screen.

And TFWIC don't seem to be able to juggle the cast convincingly. There are various sparky relationships, but no feeling of cohesion.
louisedennislouisedennis on February 2nd, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
I'm better dispposed towards Matt than you are, and I think he's doing a good job of cohering people in the field. But they've obviously decided that they don't normally want more than three people on the "field job" in most episodes and that's causing problems with the four field operatives they have!
lukadreaminglukadreaming on February 3rd, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
I want to like Matt, but he's suffered from being underwritten and from the pacing imo. I'm hoping there will be some great reveal in the final ep and that the writers will build on it for S5. I won't be holding my breath!
reggietate: connor-matt-lesterreggietate on February 1st, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
I find myself liking Matt, though I'm not sure why. He goes well with Becker, and I liked his interactions with Gideon, but they really should have made him explain what he's up to a bit sooner than this.

Amy enjoying Connor and Abby more individually than together, becaue, though I do like them as a couple, the writers do seem a bit confused about what's going on. As to Abby's sudden knowledge, I put some of it down to her having read up a bit during S3, and exchanged expertise with Connor in the Cretaceous, but consulting the database would have made more sense, or the two of them debating over what it might be, or just not knowing for certain.

They do seem to be splitting the team up too much, which I suspect is because there are simply too many characters this year. I liek the characters, even teh new ones, but we aren't seeing enough of them together, or indeed individually, to really feel close to them.

On Sunday night, though, I rewatched eps 1 to 5 back to back, and found myself enjoying them a lot While I'm not as invested in the characters, I seem to be enjoying the ride.
lukadreaminglukadreaming on February 1st, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
I'm interested in the Matt and Gideon back story, but the pacing of it has been very poor.

I haven't re-watched most of S3. I can't see myself bothering with much of S4 unless the last ep turns out to be a good 'un. when it boils down to it, I'm not fussed about any of the characters, apart from Lester, and the storytelling has been far too patchy.
rodlox: Crane & friendsrodlox on February 17th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
at least even wet flannels can heat up. or am i confusing it with another fabric?