Regular readers will know of my love for Being Human, primarily as being one of the only half-decent things on BBC3. And, as our dear friends at Smash Hits were wont to say, it’s back Back BACK!
We pick up from the end of the last series. Annie the Ghost (Leonora Critchlow) is trapped in purgatory and frantically appealing to her friends and housemates Mitchell the Vampire (Aidan Turner) and George the Werewolf (Russell Tovey) through a series of TV screens and radios. As charity appeals go, it’s not exactly Band Aid/Live Aid/Lemon Aid (oh come on, citrus fruits have rights too!) but it’s moving enough.
Meanwhile, the chaps and George’s girlfriend Nina (for readers new to all this, is also a werewolf, have been bitten by George in the first series) have fled Bristol and are being shown round an abandoned B and B in Barry Island. Well, if it worked for Gavin and Stacey. The singular charms of Barry Island are colourfully outlined by a heroically lugubrious Estate Agent (“I bet heaven doesn’t have chemical toilets”). George and Nina (Sinead Keenan) are particularly taken with the basement, as it provides the prefect space for them both to transform into werewolves in the comfort their own home. Stick that in your Sales Particulars and smoke it, Heroically Lugubrious Estate Agent Lady! Proceedings are nearly derailed by Mitchell frantically walloping a tv set in order to reach Annie. “She’s our friend! We don’t have much time!”. Fortunately, George is on hand to calm the situation by hurriedly supplementing “it’s our friend, she’s, erm, appearing on Midsomer Murders later…”
Indeed, following a somewhat dour second series, Being Human has brought the funny back in a big way. And it’s brilliant. Despite its attempts and indeed some level of success at being a British Buffy the Vampire Slayer equivalent, it puts its own peculiarly British slant on the whipsmart one-liners.
We take a break from the B and B to be introduced to what turns out to be two new werewolves having a conversation in a transport caff. So far, so bonkers. But even better still, one of them is a Jake Gyllenhaal lookalike and the other one is ROBSON GREEN! We follow Robson as he uses a pair of bolt cutters to break into a locked up fairground to pinch scrap metal. Insert your own tenuous Robson and Jerome/Unchained Melody joke here, dear reader (note that I have not been arrogant/unrealistic enough to pluralise this). Unfortunately, he is rudely interrupted by a transit van full of thugs and DENNIS PENNIS! I am loving all these cameos. Also nice to see the producers nicely fitting in with my “British Buffy” hypothesis (take that, Popper and your black swans) by making Paul Kaye look even more like a mangy Billy Idol lookalike than Spike From Buffy (yes I know he’s got a real name, but this is my lunch break here).
We switch back to the main action, which largely involves George and attempting to, erm, y’know but suffering a number of difficulties including that old glasses-tangled-in-hair chestnut and then Mitchell bursting in and stealing the radio. As well as being very funny, Being Human is also very sweet. Cleverly, for a programme allegedly about the supernatural it says a great deal about the human condition. This is best encapsulated by a scene where George and Mitchell sit at the bed of a hospital patient about to die so that Mitchell can follow him into the afterlife to go after Annie. They bicker about Jewish Prayers and attempt to do the crossword, but switch to touching tenderness when the poor bloke actually carks it and his puzzled spirit self enquires what is going on. “I’m so sorry” says George gently “but I’m afraid you’ve just died”. It’s a fine line to tread between black humour and compassion. Being Human may not be viewed as a serious programme in some quarters, but it does a better job of this than most dramas.
Mitchell is greeted in the afterlife by the spirit guide Lia, otherwise known as STACEY FROM EASTENDERS! (Yes, I know I should get out more often). Funny (“do you mind? I’m Missing Countryfile for this!”) and filthy (“after you, but just to warn you, I will be looking at your arse”) in equal measures, she guides Mitchell down a long purgatorial corridor of rooms of Bad Stuff From His Past, intercut with occasional other-wordly interjections from Annie. This strand develops into rather a thoughtful meditation on personal crimes and the choices we make. Despite Mitchell’s continual insistence that it is he who is the biggest victim of his own crimes, it turns out Lia is a victim of Mitchell, who bit and murdered her and many others on a train. It manages to be moving without being heavy. Much of this is down to the excellent work of Lacey Turner and bodes very well for her post-EastEnders future.
Being Human is very good at criss-crossing plots in a way that keeps the plot going without being hugely irritating. So whilst Mitchell has an existentialist crisis, Robson Green Werewolf ends up in a cage fight organised by Dennis Pennis with what appears to be an Estate Agent as an opponent (obviously making the viewer Team Robson – I love Being Human’s way of throwing a moral compass up in the air and then treading on it). He turns into a werewolf at just the right moment and wins, only to be rescued by Jake Gyllenhaal Werewolf, who then offs Dennis Pennis. It’s all going on here! Meanwhile, George gets wrongly arrested for dogging and has to be rescued by Nina just before he transforms in a prison cell. Not before him and Jake Gyllenhaal Werewolf clock each other about to transform in the woods, though. Watch this space.
Happily, Mitchell gets Annie back! Hooray! But on one condition – Mitchell will later be killed by a Werewolf! Not so hooray! What with Robson Green Werewolf, Jake Gyllenhaal Werewolf and George and Nina, this series is shaping up to be Murder On The Orient Express as scripted by HP Lovecraft. I for one shall be gripped.
Posted by Velocity Girl. Sorry it’s late – my werewolf ate it.