Review: Being Human – Series four opener
I don’t normally write film or telly reviews on here but watching the Series four opener of Being Human last night has motivated me to do at least this one.
When Being Human started, it was something new, just ahead of the recent influx of supernatural soap opera that’s flooded the market with True Bloods and Vampire Diaries. It was also something different, being particularly British and low-key, focusing more on lovely, real characterisation, funny and endearing dialogue and the small-town relationship between the three main characters who just happened to be a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. Even as I was a bit put-out that my personal shtick was becoming main-stream, I couldn’t help but fall for Being Human – which, unfortunately after an excellent first series, proceeded to go gradually downhill from then on.
That’s why I can’t believe all the reviews I’m reading for last night’s series four opener – four out of five stars? Best series yet? Did we watch the same programme, or are these reviewers actually just idiots?
The first episode was an utter mess. Everything that made the show endearing – the domesticity, the dysfunctional normality, the central friendships and the sense of humour – was absent. Instead we were given a cut n’ paste collage of Blade, Underworld and the most annoying bits of Buffy all glued together with an Eastenders-Christmas-Special-worth of soggy angst. There are ancient pictograms ala Blade, mysterious runic prophecies written on some bloke’s skinned chest, a dystopian future London straight from Terminator and I swear the Virus Twins from The Matrix turn up at one point too. Eve? Even the baby’s name is obvious and lazy – Biblical ‘saviour’ undertones, dawn of a new generation, convenient crap pun on ‘Eve of War’, yes we get it (at least it didn’t make me want to tear my face off quite as much as all that ‘Wolf shaped bullet’ bollocks did!) When daddy George makes yet another noble sacrifice (in order for Russell Tovey to presumably escape this televisual sinking ship on a gushing wave of bathos) he follows not only Mitchell and Herrick but also Nina (offscreen) and the briefly-promising Wyndham (offscreen) into the great B&Q door aisle in the sky. It’s not so much a question of ‘is there life after Mitchell?’ as ‘is there life after practically every character you ever gave a damn about is summarily killed off?’ Well, at least we don’t have to watch George cry any more.
It’s OK though because this one might be a grower yet. We’ve already been hurriedly introduced to a whole plethora of new characters. Michael Socha does show genuine promise as returning teen-wolf Tom, but he’s about the best of the bunch. We’re shown a parallel ‘family’ of types one, two, and three which results in the convenient addition of new ghost Pearl and oestrogen-bait, Mitchell-substitute vampire Hal. Instead of small-town bullies duffing up werewolves in back alley scraps, the head vamps have become wisecracking, deadpan Big Bads in military uniform, with all the charm and individuality of Hollywood super-villains.
I think that’s the problem. It’s all gone a bit Hollywood. I read one comment about how, finally, production values have caught up with the script writing and I’m not sure if that’s remotely a good thing. It seems to me that the failing of any drama of this type – be it Supernatural, Buffy, the X-Files or whatever, is that it always feels like it has to keep on outdoing itself. If in series one you’re avoiding your next door neighbours who’ve mistakenly pegged you as a paedophile, then in series two the script writer feels the necessity to up the ante and you’re suddenly fighting a secret national corporation. Inevitably this is all going to lead to you having to save the world. Like every other series of this type, all groaning under the weight of their own unwieldy cliché.
Sure, you have to move on with a series and I for one won’t stop watching just because the central characters have changed. What will make me stop watching however, is frankly appalling writing and making your ridiculous canon up as you go along. Werewolf blood is toxic to vampires? Really? All those times the backyard bullies were kicking the snot out of George, they should have been more careful, hey?
In conclusion, the more sweeping and epic the storyline tries to become, the less human seem the characters. This is one show that really should have quit whilst it was ahead and ended on Series three.