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Primeval

My friend, Connie Willis, gave me the first season of PRIMEVAL for my birthday last year, and since then she has become my pusher.   I started watching the show because I have enormous respect for Connie and her abilities as a story teller, and if she liked the show this much there had to be something there.  I immediately liked a number of the characters, especially Cutter, Conner and Lester so I ordered up seasons two and three from Netflix and kept watching.

Only to discover that Primeval was the television version of GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire.  The writer/producers would do anything to any character, and very soon you realized that _No One Was Safe!_.  They killed major characters without compunction.  At that point I was hooked.

Now I know all the boys are going to harp at me about how it was stupid to send this small team up against the dinosaurs, and how in the real world they’d send in a platoon armed with really big guns.  The show did try to address that.  They make the point that they had to stop killing the creatures because it had unintended consequences for the timeline.  They wiped out a major character — she just ceases to exist because they were killing the creatures.  They also indicate that the government is trying to keep this quiet so they don’t want a huge military presence.   And finally, it’s television, Jack, we want to watch the heroes having adventures, not numnuts.  

This reminds me of the time I was running a Scotland Yard game for the gang, and there was a hostage in a warehouse with a lot of bad guys.  One of my players suggested calling in the SWAT team to which Victor Milan replied “well, we can sit here and watch Melinda roll dice and tell us how it comes our or we could play.”  He was right; in the real world you wait for SWAT in my game you play.  The same thing applies to this show.

Back to the point.  Yes, all of these explanations are fig leaves (not the changing timelines thing), but none of that matters because the show isn’t about the creatures.  It’s about the characters and their relationships.  And it has a huge meta theme — that individuals matter.  That they should take precedence over The Greater Good, or The Big Picture, or Eggs and Omelets.

Each season increases the stakes and ramps up the tension and meanwhile you’re wondering if Conner and Abby will ever get together, and suddenly you realize that Lester, the bureaucrat with a heart of gold, has become the father figure to this team, and is constantly protecting them in his funny, snarky way, and there’s the bittersweet story of the man and woman out of time who find each other.  They take the stereotypical soldier character and make him so interesting and so appealing and so guilt ridden that he is no longer a stereotype.

They allow the characters to represent facets of the human condition.  Pure intellect, pure heart and emotion.  How either of those two polar opposites leads to bad results.  The plotting is very good for a television show.  They echo back to things set in motion in season one.  The psychological drives of the people dictate how they behave, and they learn from their mistakes and their actions.  They grow and change unlike many American shows where everything has to reset to neutral at the end of each episode.

I liked the show.  Check it out if you’re curious and remember it’s a morality play and a damn good one.

 

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