Image from 'Primeval'



TAC correspondent Mike Gray likes the characters and sense of adventure in the new BBC series Primeval, but wonders why it propagandizes for a radical notion of Darwinism that evolutionary biologists have rejected.

Primeval, a new dramatic TV series from the British Broadcasting Corporation, is currently airing on a weekly basis on BBC America. I wish I could get wildly enthusiastic about it, because it does have enjoyable moments of high adventure.

The producers have decided to let the story unfold in fits and starts, an approach that some would find tedious but which others would regard as naturalistic (no pun intended). Consequently, the personal lives of the central (and even peripheral) characters come to the fore.

Since the main characters are all adults, the producers choose to give us plenty of information about their sex lives, not shown explicitly on-screen in flagrante but implicitly, through dialogue. This is definitely not a children’s program, although its fanciful subject matter and nonserious treatment of personal relationships indicate that it is indeed aimed at that demographic group. (Unfortunately, the assumption of immaturity among adults is par for the course in post-Christian Europe and America, which makes it difficult to ascertain exactly whom Primeval is intended for.)

The visuals on the show are state-of-the-art, however. Thanks to CGI and some good pretending by the actors, the most impossible creatures and situations are realized with a certain amount of believability. Certainly that appeals to the kid in me.

Although all the actors are handsome/beautiful and convincing in their performances, I must admit that my favorite has to be Rex, a green flying lizard. He steals every scene he’s in—when he’s not chewing it.

The ideas behind the series are less pleasing to this skeptic toward the dogmas of philosophical naturalism. The show openly propagandizes for a hardcore idea of Darwinism that the author of The Origin of Species never intended and which evolutionary biologists have concluded does not fit the facts. Yet this dubious line of thought is the show’s unquestioned underlying assumption, which may be why it’s intended to appeal to kids.

Of course, we have all been taught in school that all the dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, and doubtless the producers of Primeval absorbed that lesson well. Now they’re giving their childhood beliefs back to us in the most concrete way possible given their resources. (The series posits that the fabric of time has been ripped, allowing the extinct creatures to thunder into the modern world.)

But there are many quite reasonable scientists and other analysts who strongly disagree that what we learned in school about this subject actually fits the facts. You can find some very good critiques here and here, for example.

Which theory is true and which is the fantasy is an interesting and important question, but unfortunately one that the producers of Primeval are too unsophisticated to consider.