Series Review: Primal – Season 1 (2019 – 2020)

I’ve made it clear a bunch of times that I am a big fan of animation. Western, Japanese, you name it. I often even think animation has an edge over live action, thanks to not having as many limitations since all the images are completely drawn up, and not shot with some camera. They’re not bound quite to the same rules as an actor on a set. So anyhow, let’s talk about a cartoon.

Ladies and gents… “Primal” season 1!

The story of “Primal” tells the tale of a caveman (Aaron LaPlante) who recently suffered a terrible tragedy, which leads to him teaming up with a carnivorous dinosaur. And we follow this unlikely duo as they learn to work together to survive a dangerous and insanely violent prehistoric world. The narrative in “Primal” is interesting because it’s not really one overarching narrative. It’s really more a series of events in the lives of our two protagonists, a sort of “day in the life” kind of deal. Except instead of being a mundane life, their days involve running from or fighting off hostile creatures. And while this sounds like it could be a little samey, the writers manage to find new and creative and frankly fucked up ways for our heroes to struggle for survival. On top of that, this show has no dialogue. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given who the creator is, but it’s still interesting to see. And I must say that it’s masterfully handled. Even with zero spoken words, everything that needs to be said is beautifully shown purely through visual storytelling of the highest caliber. And the way they use this for the various little stories throughout this season is fantastic. Not a single episode went by where I wasn’t completely invested.

While this doesn’t really have a huge cast of fleshed out character, the few we do get are still great. These are namely the caveman and the dinosaur (credited as Spear and Fang respectively), our main characters. Both stubborn, both tough, but both also capable of being vulnerable and surprisingly complex. Seeing how their bond evolves over the course of the ten episodes is really cool, and I loved every second of that. And while there is no real dialogue, I will still say that Aaron LaPlante’s many shouts and grunts as Spear are terrific. Truly ape-like and cavemanish.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates & Joanne Higginbottom, and I think they did a terrific job with it. They use a lot of familiar brass, percussion, and woodwind stings in ways that really capture the intensity of the prehistoric carnage of this show. However, they do know when to pull it back as well for some decently emotional tracks. It’s just solid stuff.

“Primal” was great for Adult Swim by Genndy Tartakovsky. And if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, it should be known that he also created “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Samurai Jack”. So yeah, he’s a bit of an animation legend. Speaking of which, how is the animation here? Breathtakingly fantastic. There’s a lot of creative color uses throughout, which when combined with different angles and dynamic movements, makes for one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever seen. This of course also translates into action scenes, which are amazingly well done and also insanely brutal. If you’re in any way squeamish, don’t watch this show, at all. It’s one of the bloodiest, most violent, and least fuck-giving cartoons out there. It even brings some of that nastiness up from a 10 to a 40 in episodes five and seven, the latter of which being one of the most disturbing things I’ve watched in a long time. Hell, even episode 1 is quite upsetting and unforgiving. But yeah, the craft on display here is spectacular… and insanely uncompromising.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.7/10.

While the uncompromising brutality of “Primal” season 1 may put some people off, I for one find it to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great story, good characters, good grunts and screams, great music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Primal” a 9.95/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Primal” season 1 is now completed.

Man, when Genndy was let loose from the shackles of family friendly content, he really went all out.

2 thoughts on “Series Review: Primal – Season 1 (2019 – 2020)

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