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13 July 2011 @ 12:54 pm
Primeval 5.06  
Ah Lord of the Rings and your inability to decide where to end. Now I see thee in so many places!


Mostly I thought this episode was pretty good, despite it's complete inability to actually end but I thought it was marred by a poorly thought out and horribly edited sequence in the middle set in the ARC.

Taking things a segment at a time Matt and Philip's confrontation was hugely frustrating. Matt gave Philip no good reason to believe he knew what he was talking about. Matt didn't even tell him that it was the belief of his time that the attempt to prevent conversion was what tipped the world over into disaster. It hugely frustrates me that the the conflict between Matt and Philip and, by extension, between Abby and Connor has been played throughout as if Matt is obviously in the right and Philip obviously in the wrong when on paper it is one between facts Matt has been told as he grew up and Philip's own personal scientific investigations. On one level it is a conflict between faith and science, fueled by the contempt in which each side holds the other, when a genuine dialogue between the two could potentially have resolved everything. I said when I reviewed episode 4 that there's potentially some really meaty stuff here and I wish I believed that TFWIC were aware of that, even if they had decided to downplay it given the audience they were aiming for, rather than being concerned that they didn't realise how thin the actual evidence against Philip is.

Moving on, the sequence with Matt, Abby and Connor in the future was very nicely put together. I had a sinking "Oh please let her not be pregnant!" moment when Abby was whispering to Connor but fortunately she wasn't. The threats seemed suitably serious and Matt's bottled up despair and frustration was well played.

The return to the New Dawn project was also well played, with Siddig's lovely "I'm the villain" and I so wish that the episode had really ended here with Philip sacrificing and redeeming himself. I shall reserve an angry face, though, for the idea that Helen somehow duped Philip into destroying the world since even at her most bonkers (i.e. when she decided to wipe out humanity) her agenda was explicitly to save, not destroy, the world. Why couldn't she simply have been wrong too?

Then the episode goes back to the ARC and down the plug hole in a segment that was not only poorly written but abysmally edited. Shall I catalogue my complaints? Why not, that's half the fun of writing these things. Where is the armoury in relation to the control centre? Why has Jess dragged Lester there? How on Earth did Jess and Lester escape the predator attack (Lester did look very fetching with his top button undone, mind)? Why let the menfolk go off hunting predators and then set up your anti-predator weapon? Oh the predators are in the control centre all of a sudden! What was Emily doing while Abby floundered around on the floor? Oh god! the women need a man to double back and save them! (why, oh why, couldn't Emily have taken that shot?) How come that anti-predator weapon only works when convenient? There are two Beckers!! (this was easily the worst crime of the editing, I really genuinely thought there was about to be a clone!Becker sub-plot and had started discussing it with B, because he seemed to be in two places at once). It was just horribly put together from start to finish, with no apparent sense of the internal geography of the ARC, predators reduced to things that amble about threateningly but don't attack often and if they do only take dainty bites from you, and lots of pointless splitting up and getting back together.

The final sequence back at New Dawn was marred by the faux peril of Matt driving into the anomaly and then mysteriously surviving. It was too quick for us to worry about him much before it transpired that he was OK really.

The closing sequence was excellent though, even if it had unintentionally been slightly spoiled by the not double!Becker thing earlier. The proposal was lovely too! We squeed (B in a manly fashion, obv).

In summary I think this episode had a strong first half but then, as if they realised they'd only got story for 30 minutes, a horrible second half with, in particular, the ARC sequence looking as though it had been thrown together without much thought.

Season 5, as a whole, I think has been one of Primeval's stronger seasons. It suffers from many of the shows endemic problems: people widely acting in ways that would be deeply unprofessional given their position in life, characters (particularly antagonists) that could be interesting but are somehow short-changed in the execution and, despite a good set of female characters a horrible tendency to sideline them in favour of the men. Emily suffered particularly badly here, so much so that I wonder if bringing her back and integrating her with the team was an after-thought. She spent much of the last two episodes being being unconscious, captured or just not apparently doing anything in a situation where you would expect her to be doing something which reminded me of nothing so much as the confusion faced by 1980s Doctor Who writers when faced with the comparatively complex character of Turlough (their solution was generally to have him captured early on and then spend the rest of the story variously tied up). However the season also demonstrated many of Primeval's strengths, particularly those shown in the first two seasons. It had a good arc plot that didn't over-burden the individual stories, every story managed to be reasonably imaginative and stretched itself beyond "raptor in a shopping centre" plotting. While I've complained about Burton he did, in the end, manage to be a nuanced villain with his own agenda, even if I don't think the show articulated that very well. Abby and Connor were handled so much better than in season 4 that I boggle a bit that season 4 got them so terribly wrong. In fact, I think as a whole it was streets better than season 4 which is so very, very odd, given the two were filmed as a single unit.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/49123.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on July 13th, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
I really liked the final plot twist!

Were you watching on DVD? If not, some of the ep was made even weirder by Watch cutting a couple of scenes for the advert length, which made some of the bits in the middle make very little continuity sense at all.

It'll be interesting to see if ITV get better viewing figures for s5 or not.

I think there's enough of a hook for another series left at the end, and it would be nice to see where they took things. But I do wish they'd get some better writers on board!
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on July 13th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
I was watching the iTunes download - I don't know if that is the DVD version or the Watch version. Post-production brutal cuts by the TV company would make a lot of sense of the editing in the ARC sequence, because while I often complain about Primeval I rarely think it is actively incompetent which the editing there was.

I was actually pretty pleased with the writing in this season actually. I thought it a lot better than in S3 and S4. Obviously it's often frustrating, but I don't think it was significantly worse that the writing in most genre programs of this kind (even a lot of Dr Who which is often held up these days as a good example of genre writing).
fredbassettfredbassett on July 13th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
Did Itunes have the scene with Lester and Jess under the desk in his office? If not, it was the cut version, which contributed to the wtf feeling in those scenes.

I have a lot of issues with Dr Who these days and now can barely watch it at all, unlike Mr FB who still likes it.

I came to have a huge affection for Matt's lack of obvious emotion. It was such a massive change from Tennant and Smith. A man who faces an apocalypse with barely a raised eyebrow has much to recommend him!
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on July 13th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
Yes we did have Lester and Jess under the desk. My main beef was (IIRC) we have Becker, Connor and Matt splitting up to clear out the predators on the way to the lab. We have the women doing stuff in the centre. Then there's a shot of Becker on his own peering round corners. Then the women trying and failing to stop predators. Then Becker reappears to rescue them. Cut to Becker in the lab with Matt and Connor.

I need to rewatch it to see how disjointed it was, but that final cut from the central area to the lab clinched my "two Becker" hypothesis, but I'd already formed it when it turned up to rescue Abby because I thought the script had established he was working his way away from the centre and to the lab.

I always liked Matt and never really understood the accusation that he was wooden.
fredbassettfredbassett on July 13th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
Well I'd be happy enough with two Beckers!

The more I saw of Matt, the more I liked him.
telperion_15: Lester Bowtelperion_15 on July 13th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
I have to admit that I was really really hoping that, during that sequence in the ARC, we were going to have a Lester/Monty vs. Dave re-match. Not sure whether that would have actually solved any of the problems you mention, but it seemed to me like the obvious way to go, and would have been a nice little piece of fan-service... :)
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on July 13th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
A Lester/Monty v Dave rematch would have been awesome and is clearly how Lester came to survive that predator attack. I strongly believe this missing scene needs to be written!
lukadreaming: Burton coollukadreaming on July 13th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
I agree with much of what you say. I was hoping Helen would return in S5, so imagine me doing an angry face with you! Burton in the final ep is what he should have been all along. And someone finally woke Siddig up *g*.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on July 13th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
I really think this season went from strength to strength albeit with a fumble at the end, and Siddig's performance improved as the scripts did.

You know I'm wondering if they really had basically a six episode story to tell and all the problems in season 4 were because they were basically running in pointless circles just to mark time.