Primeval: Volume 3 was released on both Blu-ray and DVD (Volume 1 and Volume 2 are only on DVD) from BBC Video in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, and consists of what in the U.K. were considered Series 4 and Series 5 of the program, a total of 13 episodes. We reviewed Volume two back in 2009.
With Connor (Andrew Lee Potts, Alice), Abby (Hannah Spearritt, Seed of Chucky) and Danny (Jason Flemyng, X-Men: First Class, Snatch) trapped in the past at the end of Volume Two, the ARC has had to find new recruits to take their place. Matt (Ciarán McMenamin, Jericho, Demons), the new field leader, is an ex-soldier with a secret which he keeps hidden from his team. Unconventional and highly efficient Jess (Ruth Kearney, Gracie!) now runs operations from the ARC Control Center. Charismatic businessman and scientist Philip Burton (Alexander Siddig, Clash of the Titans, 24, Syriana, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) has become part owner of the ARC after the government lost faith in Home Office official James Lester’s (Ben Miller) ability to run such a dangerous and expensive operation on his own. Once Philip gained half ownership and privatized the ARC, the fine line between saving the country and creating scientific history became blurred. Will greed outweigh the true danger of the anomalies?
Volume 3 picks up about a year after the events of Volume 2, with Abby, Connor and Danny missing in the past. Danny has disappeared, while Abby and Connor manage to survive and make it back to the Anomaly Research Center. There they find a few changes. Lester is now second in charge to Philip Burton, who appears to have a second agenda, there is a new field coordinator, and the anomaly team is now led by Matt Anderson, who himself also seems to have a hidden agenda and a past – or future – he is keeping hidden.
The first 7 episodes, which consist of Series 4, mostly begins to set up Series 5 (which was commissioned at the same time), among standard episodes dealing with the anomalies and creatures, along with a multi-part arc featuring a couple of characters from Victorian London (Ethan, played by Jonathan Byrne, and Emily, played by Ruth Merchant) who travel forward in time to try and help a sick friend, but Ethan is a psychotic killer…
Series 5, which consists of 6 episodes, follows Philip’s secret project, New Dawn, for which he recruits Connor to do lab work involved in creating and stabilizing an anomaly – which could have dire consequences for the future.
Primeval was a series I came late to – in fact, after seeing one episode when it first aired, I lost track of it and didn’t see it again until the Volume 2 DVD release (Series 3). But after seeing those episodes, we went back and watched the previous episodes because we enjoyed it very much. However, Primeval was originally canceled by ITV after Series 3. Later, ITV struck a deal with Impossible Pictures along with UKTV station Watch and BBC America, along with German ProSieben, to produce two more series, which due to the long production cycle didn’t air until two years after Series 3. They needed to deal with some of the complications of that, such as actor Jason Flemyng (Danny Quinn) being unavailable, meaning yet another cast change (something I’ve seen on various British shows, which seems to be more frequent than on US shows). To help “reboot” people back into the show, 5 prequel webisodes were made available just before Series 4 aired.
Overall I think they did a good job of keeping the series quality stable withe previous series. There wasn’t that much of a sense of change other than for the better. The addition of Jess was welcome, as it helped add another regular female presence after the departure of Jenny Lewis, and I thought was a cuter character, both in looks and portrayal. Matt look a bit of getting used to – yet another team leader, military style yet not military, plus with a thick Irish accent. Philip, however, was probably the portrayal I disliked the most – not that I hated it, but I just didn’t feel that Alexander Siddig managed to convince me of Philip’s motives. Perhaps earlier on was better, but especially at the end when he realizes what he’s done, I just didn’t see it. Maybe I’m just still seeing the young brash doctor from DS9…
The last series does conclude all the open questions. But it does introduce a twist at the very end to entice the viewers to a future series – unfortunately, it’s been over a year and there has been no word of any continuation. A Canadian spin-off, called Primeval: New World was announced but little detail is known yet despite that production was to have already begun by now. It is not expected to continue this specific storyline, but be a “parallel” show.
The Blu-rays (the DVD features are the same, although the packaging may be slightly different) came in a fairly standard slip-case with a shot of the cast (less Miller and Siddiq) on the front, in front of the golden glow of an anomaly, and a collage of shots on the back. Inside is the fairly standard cardboard “fold out” with the plastic disc holders. The Front side of it has a similar image with just Matt, Abby and Connor, along with a T-Rex, and the front inside has another shot of the 5 main cast members in the ARC. The back/inside back fold out to a panoramic view of the ARC. On the side, each clear plastic disc holder is in front of an identical image of an anomaly.
The four discs are screen printed differently – the first two with rather dark, blurry pictures of creatures, the third with Connor, Abby and Matt in the ARC, and the third with the image of the T-Rex from the front of the folder.
The disc menus were fairly basic. A short of an anomaly slowly turning, while little clips float by. There are no transitions to other menus at all.
Included are just a few extras, added to discs 2 and 4:
Webisodes: 5 short “prequels” to the new series, which shows a little more about what went on between Series 3 and 4.
New Dawn: Making the new Primeval, Part 1 (21:21): Behind the scenes of the new ARC and characters.
New Dawn: Making the new Primeval, Part 2 (15:34): More behind the scenes, and what the New Dawn project was about.
Overall, Primeval is a good show and this release is no exception, and if it is a conclusion I am satisfied with it, although I’d much prefer to see more.