‘Primal’: Everything We Know About Genndy Tartakovsky’s New Animated Series

“All earth was but one thought… and that was death.”

Primal comes to Adult Swim October 7.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim released a brand-new trailer for the latest animated series from Genndy Tartakovsky, Primal, which focuses on a caveman as he navigates a world where dinosaurs face the imminent threat of extinction. The creative force behind a number of beloved and critically lauded animated series, Tartakovsky brings his distinctive visual style and evocative sense of color to something dramatically darker than the all-ages fare he’s been known for up to this point.

Wondering what the show’s about, and when you can expect to watch it? We’ve got all the essential info on Primal below, including plot basics, how to watch it and where it fits in with Tartakovsky’s body of work.

What is the Release Date for ‘Primal’?

Primal begins Monday, October 7 at midnight local time on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block. The series will run for five consecutive nights until Friday, October 11. Each episode will be roughly 30 minutes in length.

How Can I Watch ‘Primal’?

You’ll likely need a cable subscription that includes Cartoon Network to watch the show when it first debuts in early October. Adult Swim has a number of series available free via its website and standalone app for mobile devices and smart TVs, though these tend to be programs that have been around for a while.

If you have cable, you’ll still be able to watch Primal via connected devices other than your TV, but you’ll need your cable provider login-credentials. It’s likely the show will eventually make its way to the free section of the Adult Swim site, but at this point there’s no indication from Cartoon Network when that will happen.

Adult Swim is also available on Sling, which offers a seven-day free trial. So if you’re a Tartakovsky die-hard as well as a devout cord-cutter, you could watch the whole five-episode run before cancelling your subscription. You’ll need a credit card to set up an account, though you can choose to end your service before being charged.

What Will ‘Primal’ Be About?

In a press release following the debut of the latest trailer, Adult Swim described the series as “a new tale that follows a caveman at the dawn of evolution as he forms an unlikely friendship with an almost extinct dinosaur. The stunning and epic series is a painting come to life relying solely on music and graphic imagery to tell the story of two unlikely allies as they navigate through a treacherous world. After bonding over unfortunate tragedies, they seem to become each other’s only hope of survival against a common enemy.”

Judging from the teaser, the show will be worlds away from familiar dino kiddie ‘toons like The Land Before Time. It opens with a quote from the nightmarish poem “Darkness,” by Lord Byron: “All earth was but one thought… and that was death.” Judging from what follows those lines, we can expect the show to be violent and bloody, showcasing brutal combat amongst dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and other monstrous creatures. At one point, the caveman protagonist puts his fist straight through what appears to be a zombie, cleaving it in half at the abdomen and sending viscera scattering. It’s pretty awesome.

At San Diego Comic-Con last month, Tartakovsky promised the crowd the show will be intense and action-driven: “We just kind of drop in and they’re fighting 1,000 raptors, or dealing with some kind of mastodon issue.”

One key thing to note: Primal will not include any spoken dialogue. At SDCC, the creator explained this approach was “the most natural thing to do,” adding that “to create a world with sound and visuals, and to transport you guys there, is incredible. So. it’s actually easier than dialogue in some weird way.” Expect a lot of roaring, howling and grunts of exertion, but no conversations. Judging from the footage we’ve seen thus far, it seems the rich, soaring orchestral soundtrack will do a substantial portion of the storytelling here. It’s possible that Primal may use simple placards to situate viewers in the action, like in the most recent trailer, but that hasn’t been confirmed by either Adult Swim or Tartakovsky.

Who Is Genndy Tartakovsky?

Tartakovsky is best known as the animator, writer and artist behind several successful Cartoon Network series, for which he won multiple Emmys and Annie Awards. Tartakovsky also directed the three Hotel Transylvania films. Prior to that, he worked on iconic 90s animated series such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Batman: The Animated Series and The Powerpuff Girls.

Born in the Soviet Union in 1970, he came to the United States with his family when he was seven. He studied animation at Cal Arts, where one of his student films became the basis for Dexter’s Laboratory, which centers on a boy genius with a secret lab set up in his bedroom. The series ran for two seasons between 1996 and 1998, and was revived under a new showrunner between 2001 and 2003.

On the heels of his success with the Cartoon Network original series Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, George Lucas hired Tartakovsky to direct 2003’s Star Wars: Clone Wars, a widely heralded microseries set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, notable for having introduced the lightsaber spinning robo-baddie General Grievous. Each of the series’ 25 episodes ranges between three and 15 minutes in length. The microseries was later spun off into the 2008 CGI Clone Wars series, which ran for seven seasons.


Primal will debut on Adult Swim October 7.