Daily Archives: Sunday, 26th Jun 2011

Primeval – Series 5, Episode 5

Ooooookay. You know things are going to get interesting when the episode starts with a T Rex having a bit of a rampage in a city centre.

But while people are getting munched, much more important things are happening at the ARC. Lester, having been away, is having a catch-up meeting with the team, and he now knows that (a) Philip is Up To No Good and that (b) Matt is from the future. Or mad. Or both. Either way, he decides that they should stop Philip before he destroys the world, and has just about got everyone sorted out when Philip oozes into his office.

While Connor is assigned to distract Philip, Becker and Abby go T Rex hunting and Matt heads off to New Dawn to break Philip’s toys. Matt gets interrupted by a meeting with the T Rex, and has to sort that out first.

It’s more or less at this point that loads and loads of strange sparkly things anomalies open simultaneously all over the world. The secret, such as it is, is out. Philip doesn’t seem at all surprised by this latest development, and insists that Connor comes along to New Dawn for the next stage of testing. Connor mentions that this is what he’d worked out at the end of the last series, and which Philip had told him to forget about. Philip suggests that this was because he needed to focus Connor on working on his make your own anomaly toys…

While Jess does her coordination thing of getting all the teams we’ve never seen before[1] to go to various anomaly sites[2], Matt explains what’s going on. The phenomenon of “convergence” – squillions of anomalies opening at once is apparently a natural phenomenon, connected with magnetic pole reversal, and while it’s a bit nasty, it’ll all settle down and everything will be fine. What Philip is trying to do – absorb the energy of all those anomalies and close them down – is what leads to the blasted future world he comes from.

On their way to New Dawn, Philip and Connor have a slight run-in with a creature, crash the car. Philip, being a Proper Baddie, leaves Connor trapped, even after Connor tells him about Matt’s future. He’s not even bothered when Connor tries to use his zap gun, as he’d already removed the power pack…

Various members of the team have fun with assorted creatures. There’s the return of the mist-dwelling psycho-death worm things, a bit of reused footage of a mammoth on a motorway briefly seen on a TV screen, and Matt and Emily arrive at New Dawn to find that it’s got a nasty pterosaur infestation.

While Abby rescues Connor and they kiss and make up, Matt and Emily get into New Dawn only to be dragged out by goons[3]. The goons are distracted by the pterosaurs, and Matt and Emily are joined by Abby and Connor.

Lots of fun follows in New Dawn, with Connor getting to a terminal, being locked out, getting back in, reversing the polarity of the neutron flow accelerator coil, April and Abby having a nice chat, which ends with April being knocked off a suitably high platform to her apparent death by some quite annoyed pterosaurs.

Back at the ARC, Jess is having trouble controlling everything, but Lester helps out, pausing only to deal with a creature that dared to get onto his new car…

Matt and Philip have a nice chat about the potential destruction of the world. Matt is quite insistent that it’s Philip’s meddling that will bring about the death of, well, just about everyone, while Philip is equally insistent that his intervention will prevent all that.

Connor tries to shut the machine down, but Philip had expected that, and manages to fully activate it anyway. The home-grown anomaly grows rapidly, and Connor disappears into it.

And all over the world, the other anomalies close…

With one more episode to go, things should be even more interesting next week. We’ve got a nice timey-wimey problem here. Could Matt be horribly wrong? Could he, like the future soldiers in Day of the Daleks[4], be in danger of bringing about the future he’s come to prevent? Well, my guess is that Matt’s right, and Philip is wrong, given that Philip was working with Helen Cutter, and last time we saw her, she was trying to prevent humanity from ever having existed, which leads me to suspect that her motives in this may not have been entirely benign…

So far, there’s no indication of if, never mind when, Primeval will return – I suspect this will very much depend on the ratings when it’s shown on ITV later in the year. But at least this time, we’ve been promised that it won’t be going out on a cliffhanger like series three did.

It’s been good fun so far, and I hope it does return sooner rather than later.

[1] Budget, etc
[2] Despite them being all over the world, all the interesting ones seem to be close to Dublin London
[3] That’s one level below “henchmen” on the villain pay scale, I believe
[4] Coming to DVD later this year, yay

Doctor Who – Carnival of Monsters (Special Edition)

It’s been a while since I mentioned the first title in this second Revisitations set, but as we’ve now reached that point in the year where most of the good TV has gone away for its holidays[1], I’ve now got time to start catching up on the pile of round shiny things that I need to watch.

And so on to the monsters. This one, starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor and Katy Manning as Jo Grant, was first shown in January and February 1973, and is the first story after the Time Lords released the Doctor from his exile on Earth. Being quite happy to be able to travel freely again, he takes Jo on a trip. He wanted to take her to the apparently famous blue planet, Metebelis 3, but instead the TARDIS materialises on board a ship on the Indian Ocean in 1926. So, his ability to steer doesn’t seem to have improved..

But, as you might expect in a story written by Robert Holmes, all is not as it seems. Life on the ship appears to be running in a loop, with the dramatic appearance of a plesiosaur in the sea being the hight point. And what’s going on with the oddly grey people on Inter Minor and their even odder visitors? And why can’t the ship’s crew see the metal hatch in the deck?

It’s an intriguing story, with some scheming aliens, cool monsters, and banned technology. Oh, and an early appearance from Ian Marter, who would later turn up as Harry Sullivan. The Drashigs are a nicely scary and voracious species of monster, and we get to enjoy an upper class alien borrowing from George Orwell when he suggests that the lower class aliens are not at all civilised:

Give them a hygiene chamber, and they store fossil fuel in it

This being an improved reissue, there’s a pretty good collection of extras. There’s an additional commentary, the usual production subtitles, pictures, bits, bobs, and wossnames and:

  • Episode 2 – Early Edit Other sources tell me that this version was accidentally put on the VHS release of the story. It’s a wee bit longer, and includes a proposed (and swiftly abandoned) different version of the theme tune. It’s presented here in unrestored form.
  • Behind the scenes short piece showing action on the studio floor and the production gallery. Mildly interesting
  • Visual effects models – model shots, performers holding Drashigs on their arms. Nice insight into how things were achieved before computer graphics approached magic….
  • The Five Faces of Doctor Who – A trailer for a repeat run of stories from each Doctor up to Peter Davison. Nice.
  • Director’s Amended Ending – when the story was included in that repeat run, Director Barry Letts[2] trimmed a bit from the end of the last episode. While I wouldn’t go as far as agreeing that the removed material “ruined the show”, removing it certainly gave a tidier end.
  • CSO Demo – A bit of genuine BBC training film, in which Barry Letts demonstrates a bit of CSO – Colour Separation Overlay, otherwise known as Chromakey, or indeed as “green screen” these days. Though in those days it was mostly blue screen.
  • Destroy all monsters! Yes, the usual cast and crew look back at the story.
  • On Target with Ian Marter Not content with playing an officer in this story, and Harry Sullivan later on, Ian Marter also wrote some of the popular Target novelisations of Doctor Who stories – in the days before endless repeats and home video, these were the only way people could get to know older stories. Lots of people with lots of nice things to say about Ian, including the recently departed Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen. A really nice piece.
  • The A-Z of Gadgets and Gizmos Fun, if pointless run through of a mildly random selection of thingies seen in the series over the years
  • Mary Celeste – Oh dear. I’m not sure what went wrong here. This involves three actual maritime experts talking about actual ship disappearances and mysteries. Now this could be the subject of an interesting documentary, but it has the feel of being cut to length, with a lack of background. For instance, a ship is named, there’s some talk about theories, but no detail on what is actually known, where it was going, and so on. Most odd.

But yes, it’s another nicely watchable release. Good fun.

[1] Or something like that
[2] Or Barry Lett’s, as the apostrophe abusing liner notes have it…

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 June 2011

And down again today. Most odd. Maybe the scale is playing and advanced game of silly buggers. Or something.

Your archive picture of the day is a night view of the Millennium Bridge. Hand-held, which shows how good image stabilised lenses can be…

Tyne Reflections

Tyne Reflections



Just a quick warning to anyone getting the RSS feed, Twitter updates or whatever else. I’m just about to catch up on the last few days….  :uhoh: