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Why do we even try? – Being Human 1.1


Russell Tovey as George in 'Being Human'

‘Why do we even try?’ cries George, a hospital porter who also happens to be a werewolf to his best friend Mitchell, who just happens to be a vampire. Why do we even try to be human?

Such is the essential question raised by Toby Whithouse’s ‘Being Human’, which started its full series last night. I said in my last post on the topic that I was going to reserve judgement until the series aired, but as I don’t want to spoil you all you can read more under the cut.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode a lot, and felt it had retained much of the show’s original charm. It packed in storylines for the three characters – Mitchell’s struggle to rein in his vamp side, George’s ‘time of the month’ and Annie’s longing for her (ex?) fiance  – whilst maintaining a good balance between humour and horror. Producer Matt Bouch’s claim to have moved away from the gothic towards a lighter tone is perhaps unfounded – I certainly found the images of Becca bleeding to death and George’s fellow wolf casualty with his guts ripped out to be fairly horrifc.

The series keeps the same themes as the pilot, in some respects treading the same ground as other supernatural series such as HBO’s ‘True Blood’ (which I recommend highly, by the way, although that’s as characterised by its Southern US setting as ‘Being Human’ is quintessentially British). It uses the concept of three Others to explore what it is to be ‘normal’ – in this case three beings who are (to quote the pilot) ‘from different parts of the same country’, the country of the Dead.

It is Mitchell who feels the strain most keenly, perhaps because he’s been different for so long – since World War I – finding it difficult to deny the vampire’s lust for blood which is inextricably linked to sexual desire. Like many modern vampiric heroes (Bill Compton, Angel, and, I’m told, Edward Cullen) he’s ‘on the wagon’, trying to exist without human blood. ‘Being Human’ has yet to establish the rules of its vampire lore , but Mitchell can seemingly go out in the daytime and doesn’t seem to need blood to survive, important points if he is to have a chance at mimicking human existence. Where Guy Flanagan’s Mitchell was aloof, with a quiet confidence, Aidan Turner’s seems more down to earth, with a barely hidden, passionate hunger under the surface. So far I see the merits of both approaches, although I preferred Old!Mitchell’s relationship with George, whose neuroticism contrasted nicely with the vampire’s ‘devil may care’ attitude.

Russell Tovey is the only returning cast member, and George remains the adorable anchor of the trio. I have followed Tovey’s career with interest ever since he starred in bizarre children’s show ‘Mud’, and it’s great to see him getting more and more roles. It will be interesting to see where George’s story arc takes him, and whether he too will turn to his dark side.

Lenora Crichlow’s Annie was sweet, and I also enjoyed her performance. However, having refreshed my memory of Andrea Riseborough in the pilot I think I preferred her slightly. Riseborough’s Annie was frailer, and sadder – Crichlow came across as rather bouncier, with a sunnier outlook. However, this did add to the poignancy of her failed reunion with Owen, and the character was certainly more tangible. I miss the chemistry between Annie and Mitchell, which I didn’t feel was there in the new episode; nor were Mitchell and George so slashtastic, although that was perhaps to do with the story set up, which jumped straight into the trio and thus skipping the preliminary part where George and Mitchell were alone. There’s room for development on that front though, so no complaints just yet.

Herrick and his vampires were very ‘True Blood’ with their desire to ‘come out of the coffin’ (indeed I’m tempted by the thought of a crossover where BH is the predecessor to TB’s canon). I love Adrian Lester so was sad not to see him, but on the other hand I can see why they swapped black suited, nightclubbing vamps for the earthier kind – there’s only so much cliche the audience can take.

I’m going to give the opening of ‘Being Human’ 8/10, and I would definitely recommend it, especially if (like me) you like your dramas with a touch of the supernatural. Although there are a few changes from the pilot, and on balance I prefer the pilot cast a little bit more, it’s still well written and an excellent premise. Just a shame there’s only 6 episodes!


One Response to “Why do we even try? – Being Human 1.1”

  1. I completely agree with you! I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for ep 2 and just like you already feel bad that there are only 5 more eps to watch.
    Good review!
    Thanks 😉

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