+++ APOLOGIES +++ MINORITY INTEREST NERD POST +++
One of the drawbacks of having a pre-teen boy around the house is the sighing acceptance of having to watch crap sci-fi on TV. Because when you are young and a boy, absolutely any sci-fi is good even when the quality control guys were plainly out of their minds on rohipnol and the ultimate product is complete and utter shite. I know this for a fact because I was once both a boy and young and thought that Hawk The Slayer was well scripted.
As you get older the scales fall from your eyes and you realize that sci-fi is the altar upon which many make offerings and most of them end up burnt. And not in a good way either.
Take Primeval. It should in theory work. It's like Einstein's theory of complete relativity. It's all there. Kind of. Dinosaurs. Big guns. Time travel. Sexy blonde chick. Dopy-but-good-looking nice guy. But somehow it just doesn't work on the quantum level. There's something missing. The atoms don't play ball with each other. The only black hole that has been created is the script writer's arse that the plot continually falls into.
I'm not quite sure what ITV are playing at with Primeval. It got ditched after the last series. Someone plainly thought it needed to be put out of our misery and they put a gun to its prehistoric head and pulled the trigger. Respect. But then some other buffoon decided to resurrect it and Haven holidays decided to sponsor it and suddenly its back on ITV. The show that refuses to die. The show that staggers around a shopping mall crying, "Brains! Brains!" in the pathetic hope that somebody will actually donate one.
It ain't gonna happen.
I have this theory that ITV just don't do good sci-fi. They don't get it. Or rather they get the veneer of it. The patina. Yes, we need monsters. Yes, we need chases. Yes, we need guns and A-Team style violence.
But where the hell is the science? Where is the consistency in the plot? Where is the emotional heart?
Primeval has none of these.
First series, the space-time continuum anomalies that enable random acts of time travel (try saying that without sounding like an absolute cock) merely brought dinosaurs forward to our time. But after that, realizing (I guess) that there are only so many dinosaurs you can pick from the Top Trumps Dinosaurs set before you have to do some, like, real boring proper research in a library and shit, the show's writers decided, oh sod it, let's have our space-time continuum anomalies also open up portals on parallel universes so we can just make any kind of monster appear.
Hence we now have dragons appearing alongside the occasional T-Rex.
Bullshit! Bollocks! Balderdash!
That is just lazy. Damned lazy. Lazy and inconsistent.
And this laziness infects the whole show. The plots are scanty at the best of times but they are now reduced to threads of American-corporate media-speak strung out between a relentless barrage of car chases and dinosaur chases.
Scene 1: the team shout and argue with their boss in the big science base. Scene 2: a dinosaur appears right outside and the team chase it in their cars. Scene 3: the boss shouts at his team via a radio. Scene 4: the team in their cars are chased by the dinosaur. Scene 5: dopy guy messes things up but in a good way and saves the day. Sexy blonde girl pouts but somehow doesn't look sexy. Scene 6: team return to base where the boss shouts at them but in a good way. Scene 7: repeat this entire process until the end credits roll.
Gaaah! (This is the sound a velociraptor makes when it realizes all those years treading the boards at the Sylvia Young Stage School learning Hamlet have been a complete and utter waste of time.)
The characters are flat and have no emotional life outside the "dinosaur world" that has been hastily erected around them. The dinosaurs are just CGI'd lumps of meat that run around bumping into industrial size storage containers. And the science behind the show is as convincing as Barney the Purple Dinosaur trying to convince a judge he isn't a serial kiddie fiddler.
Lord knows that Doctor Who doesn't always hit the mark but at least there is always an emotional arc and a plot arc. It's not all about the monsters and the chases. It's about emotionally real characters being placed in moments of crisis and jeopardy that dare us to dream and wonder about future worlds.
And that, ITV, is how science fiction is supposed to work. Please take note.