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Posted October 1, 2010
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A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost share a flat...
"Being Human" is an offshoot of an idea that creator Toby Whithouse had for a comedy series featuring three unlikely, all-too-human flatmates: an agoraphobic, a sex addict and a person with anger issues. This loveable, quirky supernatural BBC Three show brings together three misfits of a different sort: vampire (John) Mitchell (Irish actor Aidan Turner, not related to the soap actor), werewolf George Sands (Russell Tovey), and ghost Annie Sawyer (Lenora Crichlow). Despite their supernatural tendencies, Mitchell, George and Annie are more "human" than some of the humans around them, especially in Series 2.
All three are fairly recent supernaturals; Mitchell is less than a century old, George has only been struggling with his furrier side for a couple of years, and Annie died recently. George and Mitchell both work as porters at a Bristol hospital; they make the decision to rent a flat, and get Annie in the bargain (it was her flat prior to her death). All three desperately want to pass as human, particularly Mitchell, who has renounced other vampires and human blood. Mitchell goes to lengths to impress his new neighbors, but his vampire connections have a damning effect in Episode 4 (which to me was the strongest of the series).
The first series is only six episodes long; the first episode is a reshoot of the Being Human pilot that starred Guy Flanagan as Mitchell, Andrea Riseborough as Annie, and Russell Tovey as George (he was the only carryover). The story arc doesn't have as much of a chance to develop as it would with a longer season, but the show's writers, producers, and actors make the most of their limited screentime. George is still struggling to cope with the one night a month when he loses all traces of his humanity (there is a LOT of full nudity of Russell Tovey; not sure how much will be cut for the BBC America DVDs, but the British cut leaves nothing to the imagination). The werewolf effects are pretty decent considering the limited budget; prosthetics are used for the various stages of George's transformation. Mitchell is struggling with his guilt over turning Lauren, who tries to make him embrace his vampirism and feed her blood habit. He longs to escape from Herrick's control (an icily effective Jason Watkins) and his slimy henchman Seth (Dylan Brown), but Lauren is determined to return him to the vampire fold, where Herrick is planning vampire domination. And Annie tries to find out why she is still tied to her flat as a ghost; she makes some very unpleasant discoveries about her death, and discovers that she has more power than she knew.
All three lead actors give strong performances, as does Nina (Sinead Keenan), George's love interest. The show does a great job on a TV budget, and the music in particular really adds to the atmosphere. The songs are carefully chosen to add to the scenes they're featured in; fans of the `80s will love Episode 3, which features Soft Cell, the Smiths, Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen.
Despite the serious overtones, there are a lot of great one-liners and lighthearted moments between the three friends in Series One. Due to the popularity of True Blood and Twilight, Syfy has commissioned a 13-episode American remake of "Being Human," although some of the show's charm may be lost in translation.
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Posted April 30, 2011
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