As a spin-off of the British series, Primeval, this 2012-13 Canadian-British co-production certainly pays homage to its source, but ultimately struck out in its own direction. Set in the same universe, only on the other side of the pond so to speak, Primeval: New World follows a team in Vancouver who endeavor to protect the city and surrounding areas from the prehistoric animals that wander into the modern era through time portals referred to as “anomalies.” The series aired in the United States on Syfy, ran for but one season before cancellation, and is now available in its entirety on Blu-ray and DVD from Entertainment One.
Although the shortcomings that resulted in New World’s low ratings and subsequent cancellation are quite superficially obvious, the series’ problems certainly don’t prevent it from being entertaining as hell and providing some fun family entertainment in the vein of (what else but) Jurassic Park. Still, I found the series lacking in its overarching narrative throughline and its development of the characters’ relationship. Although certain elements do evolve as the narrative progresses from episode to episode– namely the team’s involvement with the government– New World lacks the sort of rich storyworld necessary to draw in a cult audience. You rarely if ever get the impression that these characters have lives outside of their interactions with the creature of the week and their relationships not only evolve at a snail’s pace, but are also often painfully shallow.
But let’s face it, if you aren’t devoted to the Primeval franchise on the whole (which you certainly don’t have to be to follow New World), you’ll likely be drawn to New World solely by the promise of dinosaurs wreaking havoc on a modern-day setting. And in that, the series truly delivers. It’s the sort of show you can partake in with your kids, bearing in mind the occasional gore and profanity. It’s got action, science fiction, and most of all, prehistoric creatures terrorizing Vancouver. You could hardly ask for more.
This is not to say, of course, that it doesn’t deliver more. A series like New World succeeds only if its effects are believable, and the visual effects here are indeed terrific throughout. Although obviously computer-generated and not necessarily seamlessly integrated into the scenes at all times, the creatures that plague Vancouver are realistically detailed and nuanced enough to allow for total suspension of disbelief, making it that much easier to simply kick back and have fun.
The Blu-ray release of Primeval: New World looks and sounds consistently fantastic throughout, just as you’d expect of a recent series characterized by digital photography, and includes fifteen featurettes by way of special features. Among them are a brief featurette about the team’s base of operations, one about the cast, and a separate featurette dedicated to each of the series’ thirteen episodes.