Monday, April 06, 2009

TV: Kvetching for Primeval's Sake

A smart man knows when enough is enough. One little trailer and I'm not going to be smart enough to pull the plug on Primeval, the once-great, now-lousy series from Britain's ITV.

After a lousy, credibility-forsaken kick off to the third season last week, I wasn't exactly looking forward to this week's episode. For good reason. It looked like what it was, a low-cost, logically-flawed horror movie masquerading as an hour-long episode of a TV show. If it wasn't for a trailer that promises something interesting next week, this would have been my last dalliance with a show headed for the chopping block.

According to Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column for CBR, the show won't survive the recession. This will the final series. I would have said, "Too bad," as recently as the end of last year's flawed second series. The memories of that superior first season still lingered and there were enough good episodes in series two to hold out hope. And forgive me my silly delusional optimism, but the coming attractions section at the end of the wasted hour this week gives me hope of one good show before the series dies. (And I've ordered Dan Abnett's series-related book, so it's not like I hate EVERYTHING about the show).

But this week's show continues the trend to think visually, rather than logically. At least the writers understand the idiocy of what they are doing. While Professor Cutter tries to construct a three-dimensional model of his theory of anomalies, at least Jenny has the good sense to mouth the obvious, "Could we have done it on the computer?" The answer is nonsense. Cutter has a Eureka moment pushing rods indiscrimanately into the model and ascertains an anomaly will open up nearby, "It could happen tomorrow, it could happen many years from now?" You thinking he might get lucky and have it open today? Yeah, I thought so.

So off to the haunted house we go. Ooops, by 'we,' I mean Connor, Abby and Jenny. No soldier backup (too expensive to pay the extras). Connor and Abby don't even go spelunking with guns drawn. It's a HAUNTED HOUSE, for heaven's sakes! Best thing about haunted houses? You don't have to show the haunter much ... which is REAL good for the bottom line. And please, the little girl 'zookeeper' with the penchant for quickly scaling trees!?!? Absurd, but in keeping with the spirit of the rest of this brain-dead hour.

The B story in the episode is the continuing jihad Helen Cutter, Nick's ex-wife, has against the good professor and his associates. She sends in the clone, to no good effect, and later steals into, and then out of, Nick's house. Clumsily. This is SUCH a tired story. I do NOT CARE about Helen any more. And I don't care if we ever get a conclusion to the Jenny/Claudia thing, either. Jenny's about to make her move on Nick anyway, so Claudia's return isn't all that necessary any more.

If not for the trailer, I would be convinced that the series had turned into a monster of the week show, with maybe, maybe not having the monster actually show up. The one little toothy chameleon cum batman that hung around this week didn't interest me much. I know the show was originally a dinosaur (era nasty) of the week to begin with, but dinsoaurs interest me, demonic beasts don't. It's like the difference between Animal Planet and Supernatural. Different shows for different people.

The new direction sure feels like it won't have much travel THROUGH the anomaly to speak of. So it's up to the minimal use of creatures coming through it, the overuse of Helen and her cloned sidekicks (and don't think the ending of this week's show is anything BUT a way to get a Nick clone into play), and few if any soldier extras.

Nope, this is a show hurtling towards the curve in the road and nobody seems to be steering it.

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