Writers: Paul Mousley, Gabbie Asher
Director: Robert Quinn
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THE ONE WHERE Matt travels through an anomaly to Victorian London where he meets a Raptor and Emily, both being mistaken for a murderer called Spring-Heeled Jack.
VERDICT For a couple of scenes, this looks like it’s going to be a cracking episode. I mean, what could go wrong when you’ve got a Raptor running around Victorian London? The wonderfully evocative pre-teaser sequence boasts some magnificent period production design while the creepy puppet version of Spring-Heeled Jack is a startlingly unusual image for this show that seems to promise something edgier to follow.
It never happens. Despite the well-realised setting, this rapidly becomes a fairly humdrum runaround that doesn’t capitalise on any of its potential. The mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack is blown pretty much straight away, and thereafter merely becomes an excuse to generate some contrived threat from the locals. Neither Matt nor Emily seems at all concerned with finding the anomaly the Raptor originally came through. Emily’s husband is so despicable you can’t believe she’d ever be with him. The Raptor doesn’t really get up to much, and his one potential stand-out moment – when he jumps onto the roof of a horse-drawn carriage – is so badly directed, you don’t actually ever get any shots of him on top of the carriage while it’s moving. The scenes with the dinosaur mauling Emily’s husband at the end are similarly bungled; sure, Primeval can’t be too gory because it may get shown before the watershed on ITV1 some day, but that scene has all the sense cut out of it.
The Victorian setting is great, there’s no denying, and there are a couple of passable action sequences, but the episode is a very skimpy and unimaginative way to get back Emily back in the mix. There’s also a dearth of decent dialogue; the early scenes with Abby and Matt conspiring are so artificial, they’re reminiscent of those dreadful scenes from Peter Davison era Who when Tegan and Nyssa would briefly allude to scenes from the previous story in the first TARDIS scene of the next story, as if that counted for continuity.
Abby and Connor’s parallel plot helps save the episode slightly, as their new allegiances leave their relationship at its nadir; the writing may not spark but Spearritt and Lee-Potts acts their little hearts out, and make it believable. But what a shame they get co-opted into arc plot duties, when what we’d all really have liked to have seen from a Victorian episode was Abby and Connor in full period costume running down 1860s street chasing a dino.
Having said all that, the episode does come up with a blinder of a cliffhanger. The miniature anomaly Connor creates is a genuinely jawdropping moment, and bumps the score up by half a star all by itself. Honestly, I’d love to be more generous, because production-wise it’s a fine episode. The script, though, is shamefully thin and unadventurous.
MONSTER OF THE WEEK Dromaeosaurus (that’s a Raptor to you and me).
CRINGE Oh blimey, that actress playing April is getting more and more unbearable. Until now she’s only had a couple of lines per episode, but here she has a major role to play, and every time she opens her mouth to do the squeaky, fingernails-on-blackboard little Miss Innocent voice it makes you want to scream. Her ham-fisted manipulation scene in the lift with Abby is like watching something out of ’70s children’s show, she’s so arch.
BEST LINE Sadly, no Lester this week, and Connor restricted to playing with his screwdriver back at base so decent lines were severely thin on the ground. This was the best we could come up with:
Becker: “Video installation. Bit old and tired. More of a post-impressionist myself.”
Matt: (To Abby) “The more I know him, the more frightened I get.”