Interview: Co-creator Adrian Hodges PART 2

In part one of our exclusive interview with Adrian Hodges, Primeval’s co-creator talked about the early episodes of season five, and the proposed American version. Now he discusses episode five, teases some of what we’ll see in next week’s finale, and reveals details on the long-gestating movie version of the show…

Let’s discuss episode five – or Primeval’s Greatest Hits, perhaps it should be called…

That’s absolutely what we called it. When I was looking at those scripts, I was making sure that every character had their moment. We knew we were coming to the end of the series; we knew we might be coming to the very end of the series, and as such, we wanted people to be able to say they knew where those characters were, and what they thought. We didn’t want to forget anybody.

Tim and I had a very strong view of where we wanted that story to go, so the writer benefitted from us having a very clear approach to what that story was. We worked out the beats very clearly in advance.

There’s a lot more editing of short scenes together in it than in most episodes.

That was very much Tim wanting to get that feel. He works very hard in post-production with Cilla, and because she’s done this show before, she’s a very confident director and loves doing the action stuff. Although she did moan about not having many creature shots, the shots were simply too expensive; that’s what was so difficult to keep under control. It was never a comfortable compromise but one we had to make.

We did point out the story wasn’t about those creatures – we didn’t want them to distract from the main event. It gave her that challenge of keeping it moving without anyone thinking they were missing anything.

The shot with the T-Rex hitting the car shows just how far Primeval  has come in terms of the effects…

Yes, they have come a long way. We were always proud of them, and we always thought they were good, but the truth is this technology has developed quickly. HD meant that we had to up our game, and I just think Tim is becoming  a brand leader at this stuff. I think he’s one of the best creature CG experts in the business, including America. I’m very pleased with that stuff.

What can you tease about the finale?

It’s difficult to answer that because it’s so much a continuation of episode five. What you will get is a very definite conclusion to that story, an absolute finishing of that serial storyline. There is, I think, a very interesting final kicker in the show which gives us a new perspective on a lot of what we’ve seen, which is kind of fun. There may just be an element  of doubt as to how much of what we’ve seen has worked out as well as they think it has, which we’re really pleased with. If we do go again, that’s obviously a theme we will be developing.

There is a very definite conclusion to the Abby/Connor relationship in a way which the fans will find interesting… I think a lot of people are very invested in that relationship and I think they’ll find a satisfying conclusion to that… not necessarily to their characters’ roles in the piece, I hasten to add, but that stage in the relationship.

The core cast, as they are now, are the ones featured in that episode.

There are various subplots that have vanished over the years – including Helen with the clones…

That was a victim of Duggie [Henshall] and James [Murray] leaving. The good thing about having five years of this show is that, as they do in the best American shows, you can begin to loot your own mythology, which is wonderful. You can make yourself look as if you thought of all this stuff in the first place – just like they did on Lost!

You’ve said before that you had some clear plans for the fourth season, if the show hadn’t suddenly been stopped in its tracks. Are those stories that still could be told in the Primeval universe?

Probably not, because they fundamentally revolved around Danny Quinn, and the way his relationships would develop with various others of the cast.

Was what happened with Danny last season what was always intended to be the end of his story?

Yes, but probably not that quickly.

What are you doing now?

I’m adapting Kate Mosse’s novel Labyrinth for Scott Free – four one-hour episodes. I’m three episodes in; the  ambition is to shoot it this year in France and Central Europe.

And for fans of your other genre show, Survivors:  is that dead and buried?

It’s finished. I’m very proud we got two years out of it. I’m glad that the fans who did like it really liked it. I think the BBC should have done a third year; I wish they had, but there you go. I have to accept that the overall audience figures we got weren’t strong enough.

There are many reasons why things don’t click – and I take full responsibility for everything that was good and bad about the show. Perhaps the timing was wrong for it: the world entered a very gloomy phase, and perhaps it didn’t need that sort of post-apocalyptic show at that point.

 It is very frustrating. I had some storylines developed and I knew where it was going to go with key characters. I bonded with the cast who were fantastically committed to it. Max is still grumpy about it and says the BBC should have done it.

What about writing the third season as a novel?

I’d be very tempted to do that if the opportunity arose. I’ve often thought of Joss Whedon carrying on with Buffy.  It’s a pleasant thought – I’m very fond of Survivors and I feel strongly about it.

Clearly the element that we should have included was zombies! Sue Hogg and I were joking about it the other day: watching The Walking Dead was like watching Survivors with zombies. They’ve even got the mystery helicopter flying past one of the survivors at one point, which was never explained in the rest of the series…

We discussed the American TV version of Primeval earlier; what’s the situation on the movie?

The film version is easily summed up. That has a very good first draft by Jeff Pinkner, from Fringe. Tim and I both felt there was work to do; the basic concept of the film is very strong. We felt as fans of this genre that they hadn’t quite pushed it as far as they could have done. And they ran into the same issues that we did: creature stuff is wonderful, but you do need a very strong human component. That’s what they’re still developing. We’re expecting to see the revised draft of that probably within the next couple of weeks. We’re very optimistic about that.

I think it fits the mood of the times, with Spielberg’s Terra Nova coming along in the autumn. We’ll see what that’s like, and this could be a very good moment for that film.

Will this be in the same continuity as the TV series?

No, it will start its own mythology all over again, but what pleases me is that themes and ideas from the first two series in particular are all over the film. They’re not the same named characters but they carry very similar responsibilities and ideas. For a one-off film, they’ve done a really good job of reconceiving the concept.

Tim and I approved the treatment – there was a lot of push and pull over that, because we reserved the right to cancel the deal if we didn’t approve it. What we couldn’t let them do was ride roughshod over everything that we’ve done in the TV series and contradict all the ideas that we had set up. They haven’t done that by moving into a slightly parallel universe of Primeval, if you like. In the end, we were pretty happy with the treatment, but we did give them some notes.

There is a fantastic sweep and confidence about it, and the confidence that you’re going to have the money to do some really knock out effects.

Adrian Hodges, thank you very much.

Click here for part 1 of this interview, and check out our other Primeval material

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