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Entry updated 10 October 2022. Tagged: TV.

US animated tv series (2019-2022; vt Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal). Studio La Cachette. Created and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Writers include Bryan Andrews, Darrick Bachman, David Krentz and Genndy Tartakovsky. Voice cast includes Jacob Dudman, Laetitia Eido-Mollon and Aaron LaPlante. Twenty 22-minute episodes. Colour.

Spear (LaPlante), a caveman (probably Neanderthal), is unable to prevent his mate and children being eaten by a herd of Tyrannosauroids (see Dinosaurs), who later devour the young of Fang, a female Tyrannosaur. The distraught parents work together to take their revenge and – after some jockeying for dominance – cooperate to survive the incredibly hostile world they live in. A trailer to the series quoted Lord Byron's poem "Darkness" – "All Earth was but one thought – and that was death" (in The Prisoner of Chillon, and Other Poems, coll 1816 chap) – an apt quote as, despite some idylls, the pair spend most of their time fighting or fleeing. There are Zombie dinosaurs; assorted and mostly hostile primate societies (see Apes as Human, Origin of Man); Magic users (who can create a Time Viewer); giant humanoid bats and the enormous spider they serve (see Monsters); and an invisible dinosaur (see Invisibility). Whilst most of the non-fantastic species are recognizable, there is some license taken with regard to size, intelligence and aggression.

Up until episode 10 this is a world of grunts and roars, without language – nor anything more technologically advanced than a simple spear. Then our pair meet Mira (Eido-Mollon), a Homo sapien and escaped slave: she has a name, speaks Arabic, and can make and use a bow and arrow. Her slavers – implied to be Vikings – are reasonably advanced in metalwork, as she has manacles: Mira is recaptured at the end of the episode.

As the previous paragraphs more than hint, this is very much a Pulp series – but in the sense of that genre's early works, lacking the campiness or inability to keep a straight face that mar later examples. The beautiful animation and impressive soundtrack helps maintain the serious tone, as does the considerable blood and violence: there is much Horror – we see children eaten – though there is a little Humour too.

The first season of this excellent, thrilling series won three Emmys and two Annies. The second had Spear and Fang pursuing Mira by raft to another continent, where they wipe out the Viking slavers' village and rescue Mira. The Viking chieftain is taken to the Underworld (see Eschatology) where a Devil figure (see Gods and Demons) offers his daughter's soul in exchange for Spear and Fang's, turning him into a burning giant and returning him to the mortal world. Meanwhile, Fang has mated with another Tyrannosaur and lays eggs. After they are blackmailed into becoming the shock troops for an Egyptian queen's army, Spear fights and defeats the chieftain, but dies from the burns. However, Mira subsequently gives birth to a daughter who years later we see exultantly riding one of Fang's children.

The nature of the world – with dinosaurs and humans co-existing, along with mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and ape-men – is never explained. However, the fifth episode of season two differs from all the others (though is equally pulp-derived): set in a Victorian mansion in 1890, Charles (Dudman) is explaining his theory of Evolution to a group of upper-class intellectuals, arguing that the "primal instinct" of species is to adapt, but that under the right circumstances, "our evolution will revert back to its primal savage form" (presumably a kind of social Devolution). Though accepting evolution, they reject the latter assertion ... whereupon a policeman arrives to warn them that a lunatic has escaped from the local asylum. By the end of the episode, after considerable violence, everyone is dead, save for Charles and the most vocal of the nay-sayers, a lord. They are covered in blood and standing over the impaled lunatic ... "And there you have it!" declares the exonerated Charles. Though clearly based on Darwin, Charles is a young man; the historical Darwin died in 1882, so arguably this is an Alternate History. Devolution in various forms was a popular pulp Cliché. [SP]


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