Monday, May 12, 2008

Short and sweet

Even though (or perhaps because) I wrote television for almost twenty years, I'm not much of a fan of American TV.  Once you've worked in the sausage factory, it's hard to get too excited when you're offered a nice helping of Kielbasa.  Karen and I do enjoy "Lost" and "Heroes," "Two and a Half Men" and "Rules of Engagement," but for the most part I can't escape the been-there, done-that feeling that much of series TV evokes.  I'm particularly bored by shows that try too hard to be different (conforming in their non-conformity, predictably "unpredictable").  And let's not even get started on so-called "reality" TV.

But there are things I like -- I mentioned a few above -- and when I do find something entertaining, I like to pass it on.  So, in that spirit, let me recommend a show you won't be able to watch here in the States till sometime later this summer.

It's called "Primeval," from ITV1 in Britain, and it combines elements of "The X-Files," "Lost," and "Heroes."  The hero is Nick Cutter, an evolutionary zoologist whose wife vanished mysteriously eight years ago.  Cutter and a team of fellow scientists have been co-opted by the British home office to investigate the appearance of creatures from earth's primeval past, who arrive in the present through inexplicable "anomalies" -- wormholes that cut through time and space.  The storyline is both character- and action-driven, the writing is smart, and the acting is first rate.  As for the special effects -- frankly, they're spectacular, and much better than you'd ever expect to see on a television series.  The first run of shows, which premiered in the UK last year, comprised six episodes and ended with a terrific cliff-hanger.  The second series just finished its run on ITV1, and there's a third series in the works.  BBC America picked up the rights, and plans to run it on Sunday nights along with "Torchwood" and "Robin Hood."

(I picked up the DVD set of the first series a few months ago from Amazon UK, and ran it on my region-free, PAL-compatible DVD player.  This, by the way, is a great way to get American shows on DVD before they're released here.)

Highly, highly recommended.

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