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Volume Two

One thing to say in favor of Primeval, it's a show completely unafraid of shaking up its status quo. Other than its basic concept of "anomalies" opening up around England and spitting out creatures from other times, no one seems to be too safe.

In one case, a character returns as an alternate universe version of herself, a year or two before Fringe stunned everybody with that possibility here in the U.S. So far in what BBC-America refers to as Volume Two - it's Series Three in the UK but Season Two in the U.S. -- Primeval throws its cast up in the air a few times. Just when you think you know where it's going, it's gone to the left.

The exception there, advertised on the cover of the DVD, is in the welcome addition of Jason Flemyng. He's just big enough an actor that when he appears in his first episode, and this show has never really done stunt-casting before, it's obvious that he will return and some twists and turns will put him on the ARC team.

Flemyng has a tad more charisma than original series lead Douglas Henshall, whose Nick Cutter always seemed aloof and always arbitrary in relation to other characters. Though he drives a crucial arc in the series, it was hard to get excited about him leading the team; Flemyng plays a lot more viscerally.

And that's both the show's strength and weakness. It is a cool idea to fight dinosaurs (and other creatures) as a premise, and the team assembled has a nice collection of quirks. The biggest stretch in Volume Two might be Laila Rouass as an Egyptologist who joins the team on the theory that mythical beasts throughout history are probably the results of anomalies. But this is a series that pushed Andrew-Lee Potts' comic relief paleontology grad student into an electronics genius because they needed one, so you can't think too hard about characters' qualifications.

Aside from their colorfulness, most of the cast are cartoons, and Primeval never quite makes its characters gripping. They're fun, but their emotions bounce around depending on the needs of any given episode, never particularly consistent or logical.

Thus the show stands on its mythos, which is reasonably clever. This season introduces a couple of different ongoing antagonists, worthy opponents of the ARC team. And despite the inconsistencies in characterization, overall this season stands a lot more strongly than the first.

Derek McCaw

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