Dive! Dive! Dive!
Writer: Steve Bailie
Director: Robert Quinn
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THE ONE WHERE Abby, Connor and Matt take a submarine ride to prehistoric times.
VERDICT “For a moment there,” says Abby towards the end of the episode, “it was like it used to be.” And you can’t help agree. The arc plot elements take a back seat this episode as we get a good, old-fashioned dino-romp that could have fitted easily into the first two seasons if Matt had been swapped for Cutter. The result is an enjoyably tense, and impeccably shot piece of action drama with a decent edge-of-seat factor.
The effects are stunningly good, and there are an impressive amount of them. The direction is spot on, the thrills are constant and the claustrophobic environment effectively utilised. It may not be Das Boot but it’s a million times better than the BBC’s The Deep .
Okay, it’s disappointing that the prehistoric sea is indistinguishable from the present day sea; presumably the budget wouldn’t stretch to the submarine surfacing so we could have a gander at a dinosaur vista. But the underwater anomaly is a clever conceit, and the military reaction to the disappearing sub leads to some exquisite Lester moments back at base. As well as earlier seasons of Primeval , there was also a bit of a ’70s Doctor Who vibe going on what with dunderheaded warmongers whose solution to anything is to blow it up.
Letting the episode down are some occasional clunky dialogue (usually whenever it comes to exposition and especially whenever Matt and Abby are discussing the arc plot), a bunch of “red shirt” mariners with barely a character trait to share between them, and the cringe-inducing moment when Abby and Connor manage to pilot a submarine because they’ve been playing video games. There’s also the sneaking feeling that the theropod has been nothing but a handy plot device all along. Worse still, if it’s supposed to be bait to distract the whole shoal of plesiosaurs, it seems a bit daft to show one of the plesiosaurs practically gulp it down in one.
Overall, though, a thoroughly entertaining, unpretentious slice of telefantasy. You don’t even mind that the arc plot has barely taken a step forward.
MONSTERS OF THE WEEK An immature theropod that ends up as bait for a bunch of plesiosaurs.
GREAT LESTER MOMENT So many to choose from this week. There’s his reply to the Admiral’s snotty remark, “I hope your people know what they’re doing.” “I hope yours do too.” There’s his sneering comment after the minister refuses to stop the Admiral deploying the nuclear torpedo: “You’re already pond life, you won’t notice the difference.” But his highlight has to his response to the Admiral’s, “Nuking anything works!” policy: “I’ve got Dr Strangelove on Blu-ray if that helps.”
BLOOPER The Victorian newspaper that Abby hands Matt at the end of the episode is dated Sunday, January 22 1868. In fact, January 22 1868 was a Wednesday. Maybe that nuclear explosion did affect the time line after all?
SPECULATION Talking of that nuclear torpedo, surely its open-ended fate will be addressed later in the series? It can’t just have been the plot version of feed for Lester’s punchline about the extinction of the dinosaurs, surely?
BEST LINE (that didn’t come from Lester) Connor: “I watch all the movies, don’t I? Das Boot . K19: The Widowmaker . You know, death by drowning, suffocation, radiation poisoning.”