If you're a fan of dinosaurs, the premise of British series Primeval will immediately appeal to you. Airing for the first time in the U.S. tonight, Primeval is the story of a glittering portal that opens in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean — a portal that connects a Jurassic desert with contemporary England. Lucky for giant monster lovers like myself, the portal is big enough to admit several big, toothy monstrosities who chomp windows, toss cars around, and try (vainly) to eat several of our scientist protagonists. In this clip, you can see that the show begins with an awesome dino attack that plunges you into the extinct beastie action. If only the human characters were as interesting as their prehistoric pals. In the whirlwind pilot episode, we meet our team of dino geeks — a famous scientist whose wife disappeared without a trace in the Forest of Dean several years before, a graduate student whose dissertation is about how life on Earth came from alien ships, and a lizard expert from the local zoo. Joining them is a young boy who adopts the inevitable cute flying dinosaur who accidentally zoomed through the portal. Primeval is clearly intended to appeal to a young audience who will identify with the boy, while also providing enough action and grownup melodrama for the adults. Hovering somewhere between goofy and action-packed, the first episode takes us on an improbable but predictable adventure through the portal. After a few dino attacks, the Home Office gets involved and so the whole operation takes on a kind of Stargate-crossed-with-Surface feeling. Soldiers and scientists swarm over the Forest of Dean, trying to "contain the anomaly." And of course, the lead scientist isn't just in to make a few discoveries. He's convinced that his wife's disappearance is connected to the portal, and vows to find her there. Meanwhile, his nutty assistant and the zookeeper provide the "wide-eyed science slut" perspective — they'll do anything, no matter how dangerous, to find out the secret of the portal and the amazing world beyond it. What the series lacks in originality it makes up (partly) in pluckiness and dino fun. You'll find yourself wishing certain characters would be eaten by dinos, but I fear the series will keep them around for misguided comic relief. And of course, there's a groan-worthy dino poop joke. Still, it's a cute little show that older kids and grownups can watch together. And it moves at such a breakneck pace that as soon as you're tired of a particular joke or character, the scene is over. You can get dino-tastic tonight on BBC America at 9 PM.
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