Primal

Spear and Fang
Spear and Fang!
Raptor attack!
Raptor attack!

A caveman (Spear) and a Tyrannosaur (Fang) bond after the deaths of their families and roam through a fantastical prehistoric world together, savagely taking on anything that opposes them.

Primal!
Primal!

PRIMAL is an animated television series created and directed by the brilliant Genndy (SAMURAI JACK) Tartakovsky and, boy, is it good! It comes across like an utterly brutal Hanna-Barbera cartoon, full of bloody action, horror and fantasy, with no dialogue.

It rocks!

Giant croc attack!
Giant croc attack!
Spear beats a retreat!
Spear beats a retreat!
Big pterosaur!
Big pterosaur!
One of Spear's children gets eaten: this isn't a kid's cartoon!
One of Spear’s children gets eaten: this isn’t a kid’s cartoon!

The world the series is set in is populated by dinosaurs, ape-creatures, cavemen, Ice Age mammals, monsters, bugs and other beings, such as witch-like characters and other types of humanoids.

Dino rider!
Dino rider!

Imagine Brock Samson (from THE VENTURE BROS) mixed with Conan the Barbarian, then jammed into the chunky body of a caveman, and you’ll get a good idea of what Spear is like. Fang, the Tyrannosaur, is a feisty she-beast who does some great double takes and can go into killing frenzies just like Spear.

Don't mess with Spear!
Don’t mess with Spear!
Don't mess with Fang either!
And don’t mess with Fang either!

Some of the episodes are brutal action stories, whilst others lean more towards horror, such as ‘Terror Under the Blood Moon’, which features huge bat-monsters and a massive spider. The episode ‘Rage of the Ape-Men’ has savage simians, including gorilla-like brutes that battle each other, and involves the use of a dark liquid that causes one of the apes to grow much larger. Spear also drinks this fluid and he temporarily transforms into a mega-aggressive hulk-esque killing-machine!

A huge serpent attacks in the ‘River of Snakes’ episode
Tyrannosaurus vs mammoth!
Tyrannosaurus vs mammoth from the episode ‘A Cold Death’
Spear faces off against the lead mammoth using a tusk as a weapon!
Spear faces off against the lead mammoth using a tusk as a weapon!
Roar!
Roar!
Raptors! Lots of raptors!
Raptors…
Rsptors!
…lots of raptors!
One of the cool bat-monsters from 'Terror Under the Blood Moon'
One of the cool bat-monsters from ‘Terror Under the Blood Moon’
A really, really big spider!
A really, really big spider!
Raptors vs bat-monsters!
Raptors vs bat-monsters!
'Rage of the Ape-Men'
‘Rage of the Ape-Men’
Some of the carnage from 'Rage of the Ape-Men'!
Some of the carnage from ‘Rage of the Ape-Men’!
Spear hulk-outs!
Spear starts to really hulk out!

Another horror-themed story, ‘Plague of Madness’, is a really cracking episode, focusing on a disease transmitted by bites that turns a once-gentle sauropod into a kill-crazy, hideous, relentless zombie-saurus! Great stuff!

A zombie sauropod
A zombie sauropod
Zombie sauropod and lava too!
Zombie sauropod and lava too!
The zombie-saurus is toast!
The zombie-saurus is toast!

‘Coven of the Damned’ is, perhaps, a story that’s a little too convoluted compared to the other lean, mean and efficiently-told episodes, but it is interesting in that it does look again at the theme of loss – as we watch a small hag-witch go back in time to witness the awful moments where Spear and Fang (and herself) lose their offspring.
The episode after this, ‘The Night Feeder’, switches back to a more linear, pacy yarn, as an unseen super-killer wipes out anything it encounters in the night. The only slight letdown is when the briefly-seen Feeder is eventually revealed and it turns out to be a pretty standard-looking dinosaur.

The glowing-eyed pteranodon from ‘Coven of the Damned’
Sacrifice!
Sacrifice!
Weird goings-on
Weird goings-on
 A ceratopsian gets slaughtered in 'The Night Feeder'
A ceratopsian gets slaughtered in ‘The Night Feeder’

‘Scent of Prey’ shows Spear’s commitment to Fang, as he cares for the injured Tyrannosaur, patching-up her wounds with mud, dragging her around on a makeshift stretcher and battling prehistoric wild dogs.

Spear does everything to look after Fang in 'Scent of Prey'
Spear does everything he can to look after Fang in ‘Scent of Prey’
Spear uses the spiky carapaces of green bugs as knuckledusters!
Spear uses the spiky carapaces of green bugs as makeshift knuckledusters!
 Spear punches a wild dog in the face!
Spear punches a wild dog in the face!
Spear goes berserk to protect the injured Fang
Spear goes berserk to protect the injured Fang
Fang joins in the action!
Fang joins in the action!

‘Slave of the Scorpion’ introduces a slave-girl character who could, maybe, become a recurring character if we get another season, includes some bloody showdowns, an aquatic reptile attack and also features Spear uttering his first word!

A skirmish in the sea from 'Slave of the Scorpion'
A skirmish in the sea from ‘Slave of the Scorpion’
Don't mess with Spear and Fang...
If you cross Spear and Fang…
...because this could happen to you...
…this could happen to you…
 ...or maybe this could happen to you!
…or maybe this could happen to you!

PRIMAL’s storytelling is top-notch, managing to convey the tales clearly despite the lack dialogue, the two main characters, even though they indulge in bouts of total carnage, are a likeable double act and, visually, the series wonderfully balances scenes of visceral mayhem with gorgeous background designs by Christian Schellewald.

I love the landscapes in this series
I love the landscapes in this series

With an effective score, an unapologetic focus on savage action and a love of pulpy storytelling, PRIMAL is a wild, glorious feast for the eyes.

Angry apes!
Angry apes!
Ouch!
Ouch!
The action is very, well, primal!
The action is very, well, primal!
A drawing from the pitch animatic for the first episode ‘Spear and Fang’
Primal

4 thoughts on “Primal

  1. I love this show and can’t wait for the next season.

    My favorite episode was when spear and fang meet that supernatural black shape in the woods. It slices through its victims real easily and you don’t get a good look at it until the end when spear catches it on fire. In my opinion, that creature was actually the entity known as IT from the Stephen king novel. Yes pennywise to anyone that has no clue. You see in the book, the children actually get a vision of IT landing on earth millions and millions of years ago. It actually mentions dinosaurs witnessing IT crashing to earth! So maybe IT was doing his thing even back in caveman days, especially since the episode is all about Spear overcoming his fear. So cool. I don’t know if it was intentional but I saw it clear as day.

    Like

    1. I would’ve preferred that unseen creature that kills everything to have been more like a weird, mysterious-looking monster when it was revealed in the fire, rather than a standard-looking dinosaur.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea but that’s why it was IT. It manifests itself after something you’re afraid of. The only thing spear is afraid of is a real real fast mean raptor dinosaur that he can’t see.

        Liked by 1 person

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