I really enjoyed [LINK] the pilot episode of Being Human [official site], the fantasy drama about werewolf, vampire and ghost who share a flat in Bristol, and was very happy when it was announced that they were getting a full season (well, six episodes). I was a little disappointed that they changed two of the main cast – Andrea Riseborough as Annie the ghost in the original was replaced with the younger Lenora Crichlow, and Guy Flanagan as Mitchell the vampire was replaced with the younger, and perhaps better looking, Aidan Turner. Pandering to supposed BBC3 demographic slightly sullied the return – the cast were sufficiently young in the first place.
It didn’t help in the first few episodes – Turner seemed to be a more sure of himself Mitchell, albeit just smiling or looking serious; Crichlow came off a more annoying Annie – but I have become accustomed to them. Also, Russell Tovey as George the werewolf had become really whiny, which gets on the nerves rather quickly. The first episode was an introductory episode, basically getting up to speed if you hadn’t seen the pilot, which wasn’t as much fun for us who had seen it. But the next few episodes were better, with some progression in plots for each character (although I thought the reason for Annie becoming a ghost was a little obvious), even if the vampire nation plot is deflated by the fact that the leader Herrick, essayed by the suave and charismatic Adrian Lester in the pilot, is now played by Jason Watkins, who looks more like a bank manager than somebody vampires would follow into action.
I have a few problems with the internal consistency of the fantasy elements of the story. Annie seems to be a ghost but is able to touch things normally (like the constant tea making) but is supposed to be invisible unless there’s a specific reason; however, the poltergeist element didn’t seem to stay the same from one episode to the next, her emotions running wild affecting the immediate environment but the next episode, where she should be livid with the former fiancee, there is no poltergeist activity at all. The vampire mythology seems to be almost non-existent, as they walk around in the sunlight with no ill effect, but then they have a Star of David has an effect on a vampire (but then not do anything when there are more than one vampire). I would prefer for them to stick to one set of rules throughout.
Things turned bad in the fourth episode when there were what I call idiot plot turns – when the vampire snuff DVD Mitchell is secretly keeping finds its way into the hands of the young boy he has befriended, I swore at the telly at the stupidity of the turn of events (I can understand the thematic reason for using the device to precipitate the alienation of the characters by paralleling it with the reactions caused by paedophilia, but did they have to do it so ham-fisted?); when the young boy gets run over by a car during a mob attack on the flat, my respect for the show nearly evaporated.
Fortunately, the fifth episode was an absolute corker – even though Mitchell’s decision to side with the vampires didn’t ring true, it did lead to things kicking off. It sees George and Annie go to help Mitchell at the vampire headquarters (a funeral parlour, obviously), although perhaps not as effectively as say, Buffy – the line from George, ‘We were like a pair of gay ninjas’ summed it up succinctly. There was a lot of humour in this episode as well, with big laughs in context of the story, and events seemed to gel into a coherent narrative. There were still some idiot choices – our three heroes escape from the vampires but then just go straight back to their flat WHERE THE VAMPIRES KNOW THEY LIVE – but it was a gripping episode and had me hooked for the final episode tomorrow: they had better deliver, especially as they have been rewarded with a second series. It’s great to see a genre television series doing so well but also being actually good and enjoyable.