Primeval: New World (PNW) makes its long-awaited debut tonight on SPACE in Canada (to be followed in 2013 on Syfy in the U.S.). We had a chance to sit down with series producers Gillian Horvath and Martin Wood back in May, where we talked about wrapping up Sanctuary and launching the spinoff of the long-running Primeval series. Here’s what we can tell you, without giving too much away.
The show is set in present-day Vancouver and follows the work of Evan Cross, an inventor and technical innovator played by Niall Matter (Eureka), who discovers the existence of anomalies. Horvath describes him as “obsessed with them” and teases that he has a vested interest because of a personal experience that has driven him to look for answers. When the series starts, he has a small team helping him in his anomaly hunt. When he finds the first one, he crosses paths with Dylan Weir (The Vampire Diaries‘ Sara Canning), a wildlife expert who works with the Predator Control Team (based on Vancouver’s Predator Attack Team), which deals with animals in places where they shouldn’t be. “Once the dinosaurs start coming through, that’s someone he needs,” says Horvath. They’re assisted in the pilot by Primeval’s ARC member Connor Temple (Andrew Lee-Potts). One key differentiator to PNW is that the team is independent and not formally associated with ARC but they end up on the ARC radar, hence the arrival of Temple.
Horvath points out that PNW tried not to map the characters one-to-one from the original series, so don’t look for a new version of Connor and Abby. “Evan is analytical and technology-based,” she says, “and he’s obsessed with anomalies above all else. Dylan is a behaviorist [who] looks at human and animal behaviors. She’s the heart and he’s the head.” She adds that Dylan’s behavioral interests also extend to the team. “She’s concerned about how anomaly hunting affects them. [Because they work in secret,] they have to rely on each other as a support system.”
The first season will run 13 episodes, and wrapped production at the end of the summer. Horvath promises that we’ll get a standalone story every week and a longer arc that runs the entire season. “[We] tried to do a mixture, which is what I like as a viewer,” she says. “Each episode has an encapsulated story that starts in the teaser and is resolved by the end. [While] I like to have freestanding adventure stories, there is definitely a long arc in Evan’s story and the interpersonal stories. You can tune in a certain week and follow the story of this week’s dinosaur and this week’s problem.”
For its first season, the show used a small stable of rotating directors, and Horvath says that helped considerably with the shorthand of the show. “We don’t have to explain the technology and the mythology [every week],” she says. “Using the same people repeatedly helps prevent mistakes and helps them be [as] invested in the characters [as we are].”
Wood, who is also one of the directors on the show, says PNW has a visual style that’s distinct from the original series, and that was intentional. “I wanted to move far enough away from [it] so that [PNW] felt like a breath of fresh air,” he says. “[Our] stories are different… the shooting style is different. The only thing that’s the same is that the anomalies are there.” He’s particularly proud of the work the special effects team is doing. “Our dinosaurs are absolutely outstanding. I’ve never seen dinosaurs that look as good as ours do right now.”
We asked about the casting of Matter and Canning, and Horvath says that was a lovely surprise. “We actually went a little bit against the type that we were expecting and that gives [the characters] a positive twist,” she says. “Once you bring in the cast and they have their own voice and flavor that’s different than what you expect, it gives new life to the character[s]. They were cast based on giving amazing auditions. We just knew when their readings came in—‘Well, there they are.’ Hopefully people who liked them in [Eureka and The Vampire Diaries] will check out our show. It’s a lovely bonus that they come with their own fan base.”
We can’t wait! You can catch a preview on the SPACE website.
Primeval: New World premieres tonight on SPACE in Canada at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT and is coming to Syfy in the U.S. in 2013.