Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Season One of "Being Human" Sucks

Cyrus on July 21, 2010

At this point, this BBC television show could be the best story about vampires ever made and I’d STILL go into it with a cynical attitude. Good thing then that it’s also about a ghost and a werewolf. Living together. In a flat in Bristol. (makes uncomfortable shifting sounds) Now, here’s the catch, the stumbling point that almost made me blow this off altogether after watching the first episode: it’s not a comedy. Really. Ghost, vampire, werewolf sharing the rent. Walking into the bar. Drama. Okay, dramedy, at the very longest stretch of a definition. I can tell you now after watching the whole six episode first season blu-ray set, that I’m glad I got past my initial feelings of ‘oh god, not another hand-wringing vampire show’ and kept watching. While this is certainly yet more vampire melodrama, it’s a mistake to want to bury this forever along with ‘Twilight’ or “The Vampire Diaries’.

So, understanding they’re not going with a wacky premise here, you must be wondering, how do they realistically get these three creatures of the night to split rent together and keep you from laughing at it? Lenora Crichlow plays Annie, the ghost of a 22 year old girl who died falling down the steps of her apartment. She’s invisible and intangible to most folks until new tenants move into the scene of her death. These two, the slick and attractive vampire John (Aidan Turner) and his nerdy werewolf pal George (Russell Tovey) both found themselves very alone in the world, John because of a new found reluctance to kill humans and George because basically, being a werewolf roundly sucks. For some reason, their connection to the supernatural world (I guess, ‘death’, as it were) allows them to see and connect with Annie as if she was solid and normal. Since she’s not going anywhere, and they couldn’t make her leave if they wanted to, and she constantly makes them food and coffee, since she can’t consume anything herself, they all settle in together as one big happy family. That is to say, when they’re not screaming through their tears, or self-recriminating, or slaughtering things or people. So, generally your normal apartment of twenty-somethings living together.

Over the six episodes, “Being Human” introduces the qualities and secrets of each primary character by letting them spend time with someone else in their same supernatural predicament. The pilot introduces the vampires who don’t feel the same way as John about humans, led by the preachy and ambitious William (Jason Watkins) as well as John’s last victim Lauren(Annabel Scholey) who he turned to a vampire himself out of guilt after killing her. John wants nothing to do with any other vamps, especially Lauren, which wracks him with guilt, watching her enjoy the act of killing and knowing he’s responsible. Personally, I say, get over it. Never had much truck with the sensitive, unnatural vegan vamps. CLEARLY they’re designed to chow down on peeps. See those teeth? That unbearable even painful (and possibly deadly) urge to kill that you're denying? Go get some. I’d be a vigilante hero style bloodsucker, chasing down BP executives and the like for undead vengeance. Hey, we all want to eat babies and cheerleaders but in the end, they're all equally tasty. At least I’d be contributing in a positive way to making the world a better place.

In episode two, the scared and lonely George meets another werewolf named Tully (Dean Lennox Kelly) who has been wolfin’ it for awhile and knows the tricks and trades of the game. George is initially frightened by the confident lycan, but eventually starts regarding the suave and confident Tully as a role model...but Tully has his own secret pain. Everyone does on “Being Human”. I found myself wishing that at least one character’s secret was that they had an addiction to ‘Scrabble’ instead of the soul-rending troubles they all seem to suffer from. Nobody howls through their tears about getting q, x, n, t, and l as their letters. At the very least, Tully got George to man-up at least a little. Hell, I wanted to punch him in the face myself at one point.

None have it worse than Annie. She is tortured by her love for her still alive ex-fiancĂ©e Owen (Gregg Chillin) who is the landlord of the flat and shows up occasionally to wrestle past his incompetence and fix things gone wrong around the house. In episode three, Annie is introduced to another ghost, the child of the 80’s Manchester pop movement, Gilbert (Alex Price). When he’s not obsessing over "The Smiths" (gag), he’s talking about unresolved issues and the whys and wherefores of afterlife existence with Annie. Until they uncover how exactly Annie died. Whoops. Switch that melodrama into fifth gear. Kind of put a damper on George's good news. Which you'll have to find out for yourself. I can't give away everything here.

And from there, things get darker. Wow, do they. If it wasn’t for the really top-notch writing and wonderful performances from everyone (with at least a bit of disdain for Russell Tovey’s sometimes a little too over the top nebbishness) this would probably be agonizing to watch. It’s not at all, though. Much of the initial character drama seems rather settled by the very cool final episode of the season and a story arc with much more action and drama to come seems promised for the already-released overseas second season.

Keeping in mind that for some folks, the special features are everything...don’t know who you are but I acknowledge that you’re out’s what you get: There’s a selection of deleted scenes, 20 minutes of ‘Character Profiles’, some video diaries, four featurettes, and an interview with the creator. Standard stuff you’d expect/hope for but nothing that’s gonna set you on fire. Which is especially good if you’re Frankenstein. Who I really, really hope shows up in the next season.

Despite any initial misgivings, and I had quite a few, “Being Human” has, if you’ll excuse the expression, sucked me in. I want to keep following these characters and learning more about the mythology of their world, even though they do hit one of my pet peeves: vampires who blithely walk around in the sunlight. At least they don't sparkle (which is, btw, the lamest thing EVER. Deal with it) The hook is in. I officially care about what happens to these folks. But, not to put too fine a point on it, I really don’t care if the ghost chick hooks up with the vampire OR the werewolf. Don’t care, hope it never comes up.

It does, doesn't it? I'm just speculating. *sigh*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.