That’s not really the name of the BBC television show I’m talking about. It’s really called Primeval, and it’s without question or hyperbole one of the greatest shows that has ever been produced in the history of everything.
Of course, it’s better to think of it as The Top Secret Government-Funded Dinosaur Squad, because I’m afraid once in a while, it takes itself a little more seriously than it needs to. It’s a much better show if you pretend that you know as much about the world as you did when you were eleven.
In fact, that was the last thing I ever prayed for as a child – a show just like this when I was eleven years old. It never happened, and I’ve spent the rest of the time angry at God for it.
Until now. Sorry about that, Big Fella – I know that time is probably a far different concept to You than it is to me, and You got to it when You got to it.
It’s already on Season 4, but don’t worry about plowing through the first three seasons. It kind of reboots itself every year, which is easy to do since the show is all about time portals; if they decide they don’t like the direction they were going last season, they use a time portal to go back and change it.
Similarly, they don’t have to lock down anyone’s contract – if you don’t think you’re getting paid enough, then just beat it and we’ll have you erased from existence by a time-traveling bad guy.
What we are looking at here is a Monster of the Week, just like when I was really eleven. But because they’ve survived to Season Four, they have a decent dinosaur budget now. I was a fan of Monsters of the Week even when they were stop motion and made out of green clay, so the not very impressive CG effects didn’t really bother me too much early on in the show.
If you pointed it out to me, of course I’d agree with you, but then you’d have to leave. I don’t like it when people stink up my dinosaur stories. And anyway, now the CG is up to about a B+.
Here’s the basic premise: Over in the U.K., shimmering “anomalies” start showing up in random places, oh, let’s say about once a week. But only for thirteen weeks or so, then they stop for most of that year, and start up again.
Anyway, these anomalies go to random places in time. Frequently, they go straight to Dinosaur Land, right in front of a dinosaur, who then stomps through it into our world. Prehistoric chaos ensues, usually taking around forty minutes to clear up.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, but Dinosaur Squad funding is a hot button issue these days, and folks need to understand what’s at stake.
Now, you might be wondering what happens if microscopic germs and viruses go through the portal either way, and then wreak havoc on the unprepared ecosystems, but would you be asking that if you were eleven? Okay, so don’t worry about it.
The anomalies do not always lead to Dinosaur Land, though. Sometimes they lead to other epochs, and they have to deal with giant centipedes or mastodons or sabre-toothed tigers. RROOOOOAAARRR!
I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
Other times, the anomalies lead to the future. For example, there are these weird super predators from the future that look like lions and apes had babies, and then the babies took steroids and worked out for thirty years, then got sinus infections. A little slimy in the future, turns out.
And the most fearsome villain of all – a crazy, time-traveling ex-wife. She was married to the main character from Season One – he was cloned and then found dead, so you know he can come back anytime, just by saying the clone was the one who was dead – but we never really got to see their relationship when it was working.
You wouldn’t believe the kind of crap this lady tries to pull. You thought your ex-wife was a bitch, but has she ever raised a small army of clones and then captured super predators from the future and then put mind control hats on them and sent them all over to your house?
Has she ever gone back in time and attempted to erase all of humanity by poisoning the water we evolved in? Yes, I know, if she were successful then she would never have been born and would never have done it, remember you’re eleven, all right?
This season there have been a few changes, some good, some bad. For example, Abby is a cute blonde-haired British girl (you heard ’em) who is also a kickboxer. In the first few seasons, I wasn’t crazy about Abby’s short haircut, but now she has grown it out.
On the other hand, she used to walk around in her underpants at least once an episode – sometimes she’d dance around in them to British pop music in her apartment. The elaborate rationale was, she had a cute little puppy dinosaur in the apartment, so the apartment had to be kept really warm, so better get these pants off, cause it’s hot in here. They’re just being realistic, guys.
I’ve seen two episodes of this season, and now the puppy dinosaur lives in a dinosaur zoo, and she’s in charge of it, so she can comfortably wear pants all the time. Empowering and healthy, I’m sure, but again if I were eleven I wouldn’t want to be hearing about that. Artistically, I think they’re going in the wrong direction with her character arc, of whatever.
Connor is a dark-haired little dude who is also tough for some reason. He was trapped in Dinosaur Land with Abby for months (oh no!) and that’s where she grew her hair out and taught him how to be a kickboxer, too. He’s also some kind of super scientist, even though he was still in high school in season one.
That’s also right in line with my own personal expectations of myself when I was eleven, I figured high school then Dinosaur Time Portal Scientist.
And then the other weird thing about the show is how the time portals and dinosaurs have to be kept secret. I think they gloss over it early on with the old We Don’t Want To Cause A Public Panic, but there have been no fewer than forty time traveling monsters loose in the U.K., and I would think that they’d want everyone to be on the look out for them. They get away with telling everybody the mastodon was an elephant, for example.
It just seems to me, you want people to ring your phone when they see a dinosaur. And it seems to me only fair that the rest of us should know the Dinosaur Squad’s phone number, in case we need it.
Tough. They have it covered all on their own, with a giant building and big dinosaur stun guns and a satellite system that detects time portals. When I was eleven I would have enjoyed the Top Secret aspect because it would enable me to believe it was actually going on over there in the U.K.
In fact, that might be a time portal right over there in my back yard, let me just get out my plastic sword and check it out.
Primeval is on BBC America on Saturday nights at 9pm. I’m off to watch the third episode right now.