In just a matter of days, a brand-new series hits the airwaves on Syfy. In it, a team of “explorers” will travel through a gateway, and stepping through its event horizon will transport them to destinations full of adventure, danger and lifeforms no human has seen before. Sound like a series that you thoroughly enjoyed previously? It should. The similarities are numerous.
GateWorld broke the news that Martin Wood had stepped into his comfortable position of executive producer for it and will join other familiar names such as Andy Mikita and Amanda Tapping as director of several of its episodes (story). And you’ll see actors you know and love on it like Louis Ferriera, Patrick Gilmore, Dan Payne, and Lexa Doig — among others (story). For Stargate fans, it’s a familiar concept with familiar faces on-screen and familiar names in positions off-screen. And until Stargate one day returns to our television screens, it may just be the closest thing we’ve come to it since it ended.
Welcome to Primeval: New World.
On Saturday, June 8 at 10/9c, Syfy premieres the first of thirteen episodes of this brand-new series, a spin-off of the original UK version which ran for five years and developed its own cult following. The original series featured a team of scientists who happen upon and investigate temporal anomalies — randomly opening and closing rips in the fabric of space and time leading back to the age of the dinosaurs. And while they may be able to enter the past, the anomalies go both ways and allow the creatures of our distant past into our own present day. Imagine going for a jog in the park and having to double-time it once you realize you’re being chased by a pack of velociraptors. That’s just a typical day in the world of Primeval (both the original and New World).
Join us over the next few pages as we break down the series. You’ll get a look at the actors and characters, hear from some of them in their own words in interviews exclusive to GateWorld, catch up with Mark Savela (the Stargate visual effects maestro whose artistic vision is helping bring this New World to life), and get our thoughts on both the premiere episode and the season as a whole.
This new production is a British/Canadian co-production, and makes no qualms about reveling in its Vancouver-based filming locations. And as a new series, it also brings with it a new cast and characters.
GateWorld was graciously offered the chance to visit the series as it filmed last spring and in addition to a sit-down about it with Wood and Tapping [interview], we also had the chance to go on location and talk with members of the cast and its [and Stargate‘s] head visual effects guru, Mark Savela. But before we talk with the actors playing the roles, here’s a look at the characters themselves:
Evan Cross: Portrayed by Eureka and Stargate Atlantis alum Niall Matter, Evan Cross is an inventor and genius who made his money in cutting edge technology. After a tragic accident, he shifts gears, largely abandoning his company to focus on the anomalies he runs into, both to understand them and to prevent others from suffering as he has because of them. To do so will require him to build a team around him that can handle both the science and the threats to themselves and others caused by it.
Dylan Weir: Sara Canning of The Vampire Diaries fame steps into this role, an animal control expert whose keen instincts in both animal and human behavior make her a perfect yin on the team to Evan Cross’ yang. If Evan is the brains of the operations, it is Dylan who is the heart. But her biggest challenge may be understanding the creatures she’s about to see for the first time.
Mac Rendell: If Evan is the brains and Dylan is the heart, then it is Mac who is the brawn. Rendell is specifically recruited by Cross as a security guard for his company, Cross Photonics. Headstrong and an excellent marksman, Rendell is skilled in a variety of weaponry needed to help contain and reverse the incursion of creatures the anomalies deposit in our world. But is there more to him than meets the eye? He’s played by British actor Danny Rahim (Eastenders).
Toby Nance: Actress Crystal Lowe (Smallville, “Mardola” in the Atlantis episode “Harmony”) steps into the shoes of Nance, Cross’ go-to girl in the lab in regards to technical help and gadget creation. She’s gorgeous, fierce, impatient and sarcastic on the surface, but beneath that lies one of the most loyal people you’re ever likely to meet. A whiz kid since her youth, she’s not happy unless she’s working with cutting-edge technology or helping the team in the field.
Angelika ‘Ange’ Finch: Evan’s business partner within Cross Photonics is played by Miranda Frigon (Sanctuary, Heartland). Finch is the only person currently in Cross’ life who knew him before tragedy changed his personal trajectory. The biggest question is whether she can continue to handle and weather the issues caused by Evan’s continued and increased obsession with the anomalies.
Lieutenant Ken Leeds: Geoff Gustafson (Eureka, Once Upon A Time) portrays Leeds, a military officer within the government tasked with handling incidents that are unexplainable (think The X-Files minus the resources — initially). Leeds may prove to be an extremely valuable ally to Evan and the team. But can he be trusted?
THREE REASONS WHY
IT’S WORTH WATCHING
The Concept of Teamwork: While many viewers’ fascination with the Stargate franchise could be directly attributed to the plot device of the Stargate itself (and the story concepts it provided), just as many viewers continued to watch the various series over the years because of the strong concepts of teamwork and friendship that the shows embraced. Imagine SG-1 without the typical banter between Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson or the affection O’Neill had for his team as a whole. Imagine Atlantis without the sense of family it achieved — a series that never showed the deep friendships between teammates like John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Ronon Dex and Carson Beckett. It’s hard to wrap your head around those concepts lacking on Stargate. Those interpersonal relationships were vital in the Stargate franchise, and they are just as recognized and on display in Primeval: New World. Thirteen episodes isn’t a huge amount of time to flesh everything and everyone out as much as might be desired, but the building blocks for something truly great in the world of genre television are once again there.
Part of the Stargate Family: While the original series’ concept may have borrowed some of the Stargate franchises’ elements (it premiered during SG-1‘s final season), they took those elements and made it their own. And with the spin-off’s move of filming and story location to Vancouver, British Columbia, it meant acquiring talent from the Stargate franchise both in front of and behind the camera. Much like Sanctuary, New World benefits from the strong creativity of members of the Stargate family. Stargate‘s Martin Wood and Sanctuary‘s Gillian Horvath serve as executive producers for this series. Wood, Amanda Tapping, Michael Rohl and Andy Mikita are among its directors. And a sizable chunk of Stargate actors show up in various supporting and guest roles. It may not be a new Stargate series, but it does have a feel that is instantly reminiscent, familiar and comfortable to those that miss it.
It’s already in danger: While the series premieres on Syfy this coming weekend, it isn’t produced by Syfy in any form currently. The series was produced by both British broadcasters and Canada’s SPACE network, and both those countries (along with several others) have already completed their respective airing runs. While the British ratings were decent and in line with the original series, Canada’s ratings for the show weren’t quite sufficient enough for SPACE to agree to a second season pick-up (SPACE is a smaller cable netlet and like Stargate, New World is not a cheap show to produce due largely to its heavy VFX). So once again, a quality genre series is now on the chopping block due to the economic and business realities of the current television landscape. The American market is now Primeval: New World‘s best and greatest hope for the show to continue. Is it a forgone conclusion that decent ratings for the show in the United States could lead Syfy to save the series and co-produce future installments? Absolutely not — especially as Syfy has its own development slate. But a strong showing on the network wouldn’t hurt those survival chances either. At the risk of editorializing, Primeval: New World — with concepts, tones, talent and artistry that mirrors some of the best parts of the Stargate franchise — needs as much support as it can get.
NEXT: An exclusive chat with former Eureka star (and New World male lead) Niall Matter