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Monday, 18 February 2008

Being Human, BBC3

Did we like it?
Another strong entry in the series of one-off BBC3 dramas, but while boasting a smoother narrative than last week’s Phoo Action it also suffers from a potentially damaging lack of originality in some quarters.

What was good about it?
• Three distinctive leads each with their own unique moral dilemma. Mitchell (Guy Flanagan) is a laconic, icy vampire who is eaten up with blood-curdling guilt each time he kills someone in order to feed on their blood; George (Russell Tovey, who spent as much time naked as clothed) is the jittery, scatterbrained werewolf who laments the curse that condemns him to an agonising metamorphosis each full moon; and Anna (Andrea Riseborough) is the cocky but insecure ghost who haunts the house she shared with her fiancé before her death.
• The script flitted sanguinely between farcical comedy such as Mitchell and George’s jousting over getting a cage for George and darker moments like George choking Julia’s abusive fiancé.
• The plot neatly crescendoed to an exciting climax in which George was trapped in his sanctuary far below the hospital where he and Mitchell work as porters (where he can transform in safety and so not harm anybody when he becomes a feral beast) with Julia, and Anna has to be tempted and coerced to leave her sanctuary of the home in which she died for the very first time to open the door and save her from his lycanthropic savagery.
• We had little sympathy for Lauren, the victim of Mitchell’s bloodlust, as she tried to seduce him with a soundtrack of Snow Patrol’s face-numbing anthem Chasing Cars and a glass of wine – the beverage of the terminally insignificant. She made a reappearance at the end after being turned into a vampire, wearing all black. And we can only hope that she is as clichéd as the other vampires in Being Human and has burned all her heathen Snow Patrol records at the stake and now listens to the glorious nocturnes of Disintegration, Floodland and Faith.

What was bad about it?
• Our main worry is that this drama might not have enough stamina for a full series given that much of its identity is derived from the werewolf/vampire/ghost axis yet when the story strayed into the vampire subculture all got was a nest of sub-Buffy/Angel grotesques bedecked in black savouring that time when they could once again emerge from the shadows and feast on humanity, while George’s first transformation into a werewolf was so similar to An American Werewolf in London it was almost a homage.
• After changing back from werewolf to human, a confused and disorientated George phones Mitchell to come and pick him up. “I don’t know where we are,” he sighed, “I had to ask the operator where I was calling from.” A plausible excuse if he had woken in an anonymous alley in the labyrinthine urban sprawl; but he woke up next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, one of the foremost landmarks in the whole country.

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