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27 November 2012 @ 06:06 pm
PNW: Fear of Flying  
It's interesting* that the very first season of Primeval included explicitly both underwater and airborne anomalies. After that (with I think one exception) all the anomalies were basically terrestrial. Primeval:New World seems to be attempting to mix-it-up in a similar way.

I actually really thought, until about 5 minutes in, that the airplane had flown into the anomaly. I can't work out if that was me being thick, a deliberate ploy (but then why?) or poor direction. It also seems like a really odd choice to have an airplane feature so prominently in the plot and not have an airborne threat (OK, the queen bug... but still). On the plus side Primeval has in general avoided plots that deal with locations on the far side of an anomaly, let alone plots which involve attempting to get back to the anomaly, so it was nice to see something new being tried here.

I wasn't really terribly enamoured of this episode. It was more gripping than Sisiuti but still shared a number of that story's flaws (the monster is not really related at all to pre-history; Dylan and Evan, despite dialogue to that effect, still don't really strike me as lovers in the making). Furthermore, Hannah Spearitt having successfully put her foot down on the subject of wandering around in her underwear, it seems clear that the writers have quite happily resurrected the idea and inflicted it on poor Crystal Lowe as Toby. To add insult to injury it seems that, despite being billed as the "Tech Wizard", Toby's primary purpose in the show is to act as a glorified switchboard operator and speaking wikipedia page. Lastly, despite the fact I liked the originality of the set-up on the far side of the anomaly, I didn't like fact that their careful planning to escape eventually came to naught. Meanwhile the plot with Mack and Samantha in the modern world was slight to the point of, well, pointlessness.

In some ways it is wierd watching this, compared to the original. Lots of it just does look a little bit more professional. B. commented that he felt the actors, especially those in secondary roles like the two pilots, were of a higher calibre than those used in the UK Primeval. At the same time it all feels a bit bland. I've been having a huge problem remembering the character's names and keep having to look them up on the internet. Similarly the sets look really great (the Canadian scenery is a massive plus) and the writing is often showing more attention to detail (I liked here the way Dylan is allowed to extrapolate from existing bugs to the likely behaviour of these bugs) but at the end of the day the stories seem to be simpler and more one note than the original.

I can't help feeling the whole show needs to move up a gear to really work.

*for a value of interesting that probably only applies to geeky types.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/82983.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on November 27th, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
This one was actually my favourite episode so far. I was genuinely surprised when the female co-pilot got eaten by the bugs.

And I loved the fact that they fell about 15 feet through the anomaly. It's high time that happened.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on November 28th, 2012 10:21 am (UTC)
I think lots of the details, like the fall, are really nice. The death of the female co-pilot was definitely shocking, I think it was the way it nullified all their plans up to that point that made me disappointed.
bigtitchbigtitch on November 27th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
I liked this episode (despite being phobic about big insects and being eaten by them or having them lay eggs in someone is pure nightmare fuel!) But I came away a bit unsatisfied. There's just not much happening in terms of story arc, especially when you compare it to the first three eps of the UK Primeval. I hope it isn't, but it feels like it's sliding into the normal N American TV episodic scenario. It reminds me of myself trying to do a proper swimming breast stroke - there's a lot of effort and action but very little forward motion.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on November 28th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
See what a_cubed as to say below, it sounds like we may have to wait and see if we get a season 2 before we get much more than a very episodic show.
bigtitch: Primeval_lester_unamusedbigtitch on November 28th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
Which is why I don't watch a huge amount of US tv (with exceptions). I'll give a show 2-3 episodes to get me interested and if they haven't done that I stop watching. If I was watching P:NW as a completely new series I think I would have given up on it by now. Waiting 13 eps before getting a sniff at a proper plot arc? No chance!
louisedennislouisedennis on November 28th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
Well arcs don't have to be everything, but I like episodic stuff to be a bit cleverer than this seems to be being at present.
a_cubeda_cubed on November 28th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
I've not watched either the UK or US version, but there are some general rules (which have of course got many exceptions) about UK and US TV, some of which you seem to be pointing to here.

US shows have higher budgets (they have larger initial audences even now and those audiences are generally better off so more attractive to advertisers who pay the bills). This means the sets, locations and supporting actors are generally better.

However, because they need to overcome the lack of budget, UK writers and editors and sometimes directors tend to be more attentive to details.

US shows have to fit into a tighter writing/shooting/editing/delivery schedule than UK shows generally, with less time for cross-epsiode editing and re-writing. This is particularly true at the beginning of a show, even one which is a transplant. THis means that the first half season, sometimes the first full season, tends very much to be episode of the week even where the show runners want to do ongoing story arcs. There's lots of US shows that you need to watch the first season for the character set-up but have to perservere to season two for the ongoing story to really get going in any consistent way.
louisedennislouisedennis on November 28th, 2012 10:27 am (UTC)
That's interesting. I think at the detail level the writing is much better here, the UK show had a tendency to ignore things like how tranquilliser guns actually work, and hadn't really though through why the anomalies were being kept secret, nor in later seasons why there was no military backup. And as fredbassett says above, its nice that it has occurred to the writers that, for instance, the ground might not be at the same level on both sides of an anomaly. I don't know if they are using a writers' room - I can imagine that that's a way to get rid of small plot level niggles very efficiently if you are interested in doing so.
a_cubeda_cubed on November 28th, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
If you're intrested in any of the gory details of how US (/Canadian) TV shows actually get made, Tanya Huff's piece on her episode of Blood Ties (based on her Blood ... series of books) which is in the anothology of short stories related to the book series is very good. Basically in US shows the showrunner and associated editors (usuall listed as exec producer and co-exec producers in US shows) rewrite all scripts coming in to a greater or lesser extent. Particularly in the first season of a show this tends to mean that only a few lines of the original script really survive.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 28th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
Interesting, something similar seems to have happened with a lot of Davies Who. I think I'd heard that it was adopting an American model, though I think I'd associated that more with the joint Writer-Producer role.
a_cubeda_cubed on November 29th, 2012 05:18 am (UTC)
Neil Gaiman's description on his blog seems to imply that although he does significant re-writing at Moff's request, that his script is pretty much what gets made, although he does have to make changes from his original ideas to final script.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 30th, 2012 10:59 am (UTC)
There were definitely scripts RTD rewrote in their entirety - e.g. Fires of Pompeii "by James Moran". I think its in RTD's book where he says he rewrote that, but I think Moran confirmed as much on his blog. There is also a fair amount of scuttlebutt about the extent to which other stories may or may not have been written. Again, IIRC, in his book Davies complains about Cornell's hugos on the grounds he felt he should have had more credit for those scripts (though I feel that's a situation where RTD's ego-mania gets the better of his professionalism). I think somewhere RTD said there were some authors whose scripts he left alone, I think Moffat was one.

I suspect that Moffat isn't in as strong a position as RTD was when it comes to simply rewriting scripts by fiat. I also suspect, at least in the UK TV landscape, Gaiman might have been an author RTD felt obliged not to interfere with so much. There is a definitely a status pecking order going on among the writers who contribute to TV Who.