STUDIO: BBC Warner
RUNNING TIME: 343 minutes
•Toby Whithouse on the journey
•Vamping it up
•Costumes and makeup
A werewolf and a vampire move into a house haunted by a ghost… Oh! You’ve heard this one?
Creator: Toby Whithouse
Cast: Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner
“I don’t know why you saw bloodsucking going on here. This man merely wished to mouth kiss his dead friend. Is that so weird?”
Hoping to lead a more normal existence, a vampire (Aiden Turner) and and a werewolf (Russell Tovey) move into a house together. It’s there they meet Annie (Lenora Crichlow), a ghost that only they and a few others can actually see. Together they work as a support system to keep from harming others and helping each other find a sense of normalcy. When loves old and new get added to the mix, things get complicated.
Note: The screener I received for this contained only the first three episodes of series one. Missing was the pilot and the last three episodes. I am reviewing it based only on eps 1.1-1.3.
Being Human has one of the silliest premises I’ve yet encountered in an adult television program. Hearing the premise will likely turn off most people not slavishly devoted to genre tv programs. Indeed, had I not gotten assurance from folks with good and discerning tastes that it was worthwhile I’d have never taken a chance on it. Good thing this is BBC so if it isn’t any good at least there is only 7 episodes a season, right? So, having said that I think it is absolutely a show worth getting into.
“Oh my God! What is wrong with your lips?”
Taking a rather matter-of-fact approach to the basis, the shows starts with the three roommates getting on with their life. Annie the ghost is clinging to the precepts of her previous pre-ghostly life. She prepares tea regularly despite not having the ability to enjoy it herself. This is the accepted fact of living in this house, dealing with each others idiosyncrasies in an effort to lead as normal of an existence as is possible for them. At this point in the show Annie is still dealing with the things she lost in her life, mainly a fiancee that was left behind. George is the house werewolf, since being turned (in a manner that is very reminiscent of An American Werewolf in London a detail that follows through to the protracted and painful transformation scene) he has not come to terms with leading a normal life. Fearing the beast within, he keeps a comfortable distance between himself and any non-supernatural being. Mitchell, the vampire, is dealing with life on the wagon. Having killed George’s girlfriend in his hunger/lust he can’t bring himself to continue destroying people anymore. Members of the vampire community aren’t too fond of Mitchell being up on his high horse and want him to come back into the fold.
Nothing about these characterizations struck me as unique. Having seen my share of media dealing with modern monster problems on a surface examination these were surprising only in their proximity. It was only in execution that I found that I really enjoyed these characters and their problems.
The shot carousel always leads to awkward moments.
Episode one seems to jump directly into the conflict of Mitchell’s irresistability to women having caused the death of George’s girlfriend and by proxy, the death of another woman George had an interest in. It struck me bizarre to see George deal with it so reasonably even when it didn’t make any sense to do so. It would seem that the need to help each other ala Alcoholics Anonymous, was what made them friends and there was an understanding that they may not always be wholly in control of their actions. The fact that they could remain friendly after such an event kind of left me dumbstruck. The introduction of a second werewolf in episode 1.2 left me similarly put off the show. Surely, when the new werewolf lays on the charm Eddie Haskell style, you just know it can’t end well. As expected, things get complicated. This was a plotline I found too expected and when dealing in subjects so well covered I was hoping for less in the way of trite stories.
So, you might ask, with those issues, why did I enjoy the show? Well, it’s the journey of the characters that I enjoyed more than anything else. The events might have been familiar, but I found myself occasionally surprised by the characters reactions and not in a way that utterly betrayed the basis of what makes them who they are. In trying to rid himself of the problem of a toxic relationship with this new werewolf, George makes decisions that feel rooted in his humanity. He needs guidance. Unlike Mitchell, there isn’t a community structure to tell him how to behave. So when presented with the opportunity to be rid of completely this man who may be able to help him understand his condition yet seems to be only capable of making his life worse, his final decision makes sense.
Dr. Strangulator is really amazing.
Mitchell is, as previously mentioned, dealing with trying to deny his needs. The reluctant vampire is one of the most boring and overused versions of the vampire anti-hero. It was the fact that Micthell remained maybe the most dangerous member of the house that surprised me. His good looks and easy charm make his problem even more burdensome. It seems that that it would be easy and desirable to give into his lustful thirst. In fact there is a whole other alternate vampire family who seem only interested in supporting and encouraging his desires. I was surprised that I believed that at any time his relations with humans could take him back down into the cycle of desire, submit, guilt, and repeat. To me the success of his character is in the how much you believe there is a possibility of him losing control, and I believed.
Annie has another problem altogether. She needs the household, she needs the people around her, however, she wants her human life back. This is impossible for her. In episode 1.3 she meets another ghost, Gilbert, that Mitchell introduces her to. At first it seems that Gilbert is just another post-punk loving bore, but he eventually shows some charm. Although Annie develops a close relationship with him, she can’t let go of her love of her fiancee and this eventually reveals itself to be the character flaw that holds Annie from finding peace or accepting some happiness in her new existence. This isn’t some new take on a ghost we’re dealing with here, but I found myself drawn into her story.
Guess I had to slip in one more image of Lenora Crichlow.
When a twist is revealed in the circumstances of Annnie’s death, it was well expected but I found myself wanting to see how it was dealt with. This seems to be the how I found the show, overall, expected yet compelling. It was the little details and slightest of updates to the reluctant monster archetypes that kept me wanting more. It’s not to suggest that this is pure daytime soap opera material here, although it is compelling like the best ones. Catch it before the imminent American remake.
Included is subtitles and scene selection (oh, the marvels!). Special features are roughly all around 5-10 minutes in length and are pretty superficial. One extended scene is included. Decent range of special features but nothing terribly comprehensive.
A quick note on werewolf encounters: Fuck that!