First off, Primeval: New World is much darker in vision, much more adult in theme and style than the original series. While I knew this was going to be the case, given it's been advertised about in all sorts of interviews and venues, it came as a bit of a surprise to me, but parts of the episode reminded me of the first episode of the original series. The opening scene, an almost in media res bit that didn't involve the main cast, got the show off to a good start, but the revealment that was made came way too early for my taste. (However, the revealment wasn't all of it, so that made it better in an overall sense.)
Then we come to the main cast. Evan Cross (played by Niall Matter) appears to be the focus of the series at least in this first season, much as Nick Cutter was in the original series. There are reasons for this, and Cross's wife plays a role much as Nick Cutter's did (with some major differences), but there's more going on here than we know, and this is confirmed by the shocking end to the episode where "the great mystery" is set up. It was lovely to watch, and I have to admit that I'm absolutely hooked on the show for various reasons. Dylan Weir (played by Sara Canning) was terrific as a character, and really hooked me into some of what's to come with her character. She was the unconnected-to-the-rest-of-the-cast character that got a realistic introduction to the rest of the characters, and I like her attitude about all that happened in the episode. Mac Rendell (played by Danny Rahim) came across as pretty likeable, and reminded me a lot of a combination between Danny Quinn and Stephen Hart. So far, so good, with him, and he appears to be Evan's friend. Toby Nance (played by Crystal Lowe) was presented very low (no pun intended) key in the episode, and she's the Connor Temple equivalent in the series, but given a very North American spin to her, it seems. Didn't have a lot of screen time, per sé, but an interesting character in some ways so far. Ange (Angelika) Finch (played by Miranda Frigon) was interesting to watch, as she's got the Claudia Brown vibe to her, but her very real friendship with Evan Cross (might it really be she's in love with him?) was nicely woven into the story, and there was some spiffy dialogue between the two, and some good interaction. I really like the character, and look forward to her development. Finally, Lt. Ken Leeds (played by Geoff Gustafson) was the unexpected character in this mix. He's almost got a male Claudia Brown/Jenny Lewis vibe going for him, but he's more of a nerd in style and feel than anything else, and is definitely no James Lester, though he appears to be able to get things done. I laughed at the shambles of his Project Magnet (yes, it was a real operation in Canada, folks!) office, and loved the fact that he has a *rotary* phone in the office! Very Canadian, I thought. :)
Pretty much everyone who is a Primeval fan knows that Andrew-Lee Potts was going to be appearing in this episode, and while I loved seeing Connor Temple again, I wasn't sure about why he was there, since his purpose seemed a bit unclear, and the fact of the matter is that it's unclear where in the Primeval timeline that we know of this story and the start of the series takes place. That said, his interaction with the two characters that he played against (and I'm not saying who, no spoilers here) was quite solid, with some humour to it, and well played. He got a bit too little screen time for some Connor fans, I guess, but the series isn't about him and the old team, it's about this new team, and that made his appearance for me perfect. Even if some mysteries about his appearance in Vancouver aren't clear to me.
The plot of this first episode was quite good, with a few holes here and there that I expect we'll see explained before the end of the first (and hopefully not the last) season (I hope). The episode had more serious moments than humourous ones, expected with a darker themed and adult series, but we'll see how this develops. This episode was naturally about bringing the characters together and showing us something of their personalities and a bit of their backgrounds, and it accomplished that pretty well. This group are definitely not the ARC, though they do have some interesting parallels and divergences to the characters presented in the very first series of the original show, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve. The CGI on the creatures (again, no spoilers here) was quite good, but very different in a lot of ways from the British show's version, but there is some consistency to these effects. It also seemed to me that there was a bit of a difference in the renderings of the creatures, but I don't know whether that's due to budget or just the different special effects house.
If I was disappointed with anything in this first episode, it was two-fold. First, the theme music of the show did not happen until the end credits of the episode, and to be honest, it had nothing in it reminiscent of the original show's music, not even an homage to it. Second, one of the things I always loved about the original show was the sound bit that was associated with the Anomalies. This wasn't used at all in the first episode, and I got the impression with both this and the theme music that the new show is trying to divorce itself somewhat from the old show in its style and themes and feel, and the music, both theme and incidental, are a reflection of this.
Overall, I thought the first episode of this first season of Primeval: New World was excellent, offered some interesting characters with seeming mysteries of their own in their pasts, a solid action-oriented plot line that had some good talky moments, and some excellent plot hooks for the future episodes (notably a central mystery). I was confused about a couple of elements of the show and the first episode, but that's all right... I felt the same way after the first episode of the original series. Besides, it's just *good* to see Primeval back on the air, in any way, shape, and form. :)