Those interested in reading my review of Volume One can do so here; however, for those unfamiliar with the show, the basic idea is that suddenly anomalies in space/time are appearing all over Britain—effectively doorways to other times in the Earth’s history. At times creatures come through these anomalies, and it’s up to Nick Cutter (or Captain Action as I like to call him) and his band of government-funded scientists to capture these creatures while at the same time preventing the public at large from finding out about the anomalies.
Primeval: Volume Two picks up right where Volume One left off: the team is still reeling from the death of Stephen, and Cutter in particular is taking it hard. He pushes himself and the rest of Team Science (as I affectionately dub them) even harder to solve the mystery of the anomalies and stop the machinations of his ex-wife, Helen. Unfortunately for them, the stakes grow higher as Helen ramps into full supervillain mode and a new government bureaucrat, Christine Johnson, works behind the scenes to harness the anomalies for her own less-than-noble purposes.
All of this sets up some pretty major changes in the show. Along with Christine Johnson, three new characters are introduced to the team: Danny Flynn, Sarah Page, and Captain Becker. Flynn and Page round out the civilian aspect of Team Science while Becker is the career military presence assigned to save the scientists from themselves. There are other changes, though, which for me don’t fare so well. I’ll write about those changes in italics, so if you don’t want any spoilers, skip those sections.
The biggest change to the series is the leaving of Nick Cutter and Claudia Brown, played respectively by Douglas Henshall and Lucy Brown. The two had been the leaders of the show since its beginning, and while I liked all of the characters, Cutter was definitely my favorite and I was sad to see him go. Jason Flemyng’s character, Danny Quinn, acts as replacement leader, and he does a fine job. Flemyng is a good, likeable actor and in general I like Quinn, but honestly I had grown very attached to Cutter, and I had a hard time getting past that. In fact, knowing that this was a show about time travel, I had hoped that Cutter would show up in the final episode to save the day, but that never happened.
Cutter cast such a large shadow over the show that in some ways Flemyng is in a no-win situation. No matter how good and appealing he is, he’s not going to measure up to him. In a way it’s odd. I didn’t think I had become that attached to Cutter, but I also didn’t think he was going anywhere, either, so his leaving really took me by surprise. It’s not enough to kill my enjoyment of the show, but it does change it, and I haven’t decided whether it’s as good, better, or worse than before.
Despite my reservations about these changes, Primeval is still a fun, charming show. It’s nowhere near hard science fiction, but it is fun science fiction. It has the sense of wonder and adventure of some of the best old school SF. And maybe it’s because I work in higher education, but I’m a sucker for a show where academics are the heroes. I can only hope that when I get my post-doctorate degree that I get to lead a group of quirky scientists to save the world. Until then I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through shows like Primeval.
The episodes are presented in 16:9 Enhanced widescreen with the audio in Stereo. The transfer for both the audio and video is fine with no discernable problems.
Audio Commentary on Episodes 3, 5, 10 – Pretty standard audio commentary here. They give plenty of interesting information, but much of it was a bit too dry and technical for my tastes.
Genesis of a Creature (19:02) – In 2008 the producers of the show created a contest where fans could create their own creature. Sixteen-year-old Carim Nahaboo won, and this is about him and the creature he designed.
Cutter’s Odyssey (18:44) – Actor Douglas Henshall talks about his experiences on the show and briefly discusses each episode he appeared in. It’s a nice little featurette, although really it doesn’t give much new information.
While I can’t say that I’m totally on board with the changes made this volume, I still enjoy this show a great deal. Fans of old fashioned, adventurous science fiction will enjoy this show, and while Volume Two gives enough background information that new viewers could begin with this set, I still recommend starting with Volume One to get the full experience. Recommended.
BBC America presents Primeval Volume Two. Directed by Tony Mitchell, Cilla Ware, Mark Everest, Richard Curson Smith, and Mathew Thompson. Starring Douglas henshall, Jason Flemyng, Andrew-Lee Potts, Lucy Brown, Hannah Spearitt, Laila Rouass, Ben Mansfield, Juliet Aubrey, and Ben Miller. Written by Steve Bailie, James Moran, Mike Cullen, Paul Mousley, Cahterine Linstrum, Paul Farrell, Andrew Rattenbury, and Cameron McAllister. Running time: 445 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: September 15, 2009. Available at Amazon.