On Being Human (OMFG SPOILERS)

24 Apr

The second series -which I utterly failed to watch – stealthily snuck onto DVD recently, freeing it from both BBC3 (in my opinion, the second worst of the BBCs) and the dismal iPlayer. I tried watching Doctor Who on that the other day; it took over an hour to load half of the one episode so I switched to the ‘low bandwidth’ mode, which managed to not make a blind bit of difference. Welcome to 2010.

Anyway. I love Being Human. I love the earnestness of the characters, the unfaltering comedy writing, the genuinely uncomfortable ‘horror’ scenes. Amazingly, almost every aspect of the show has been given a little bit of polish, a tiny dab of fine-tuning, a bit of an extra  push towards away from (already distant) blandness. The screws in the Being Human machine have been tightened, and it’s running  much better as a result.

George and Annie are the best examples. Russell Tovey no longer wibbles, stammers or weeps whenever George is feeling anything less than content, and seems to have replaced part of the whole high-pitched exasperation thing with a few, much less grating deadpan moments. Much like Torchwood’s Ianto, I find I’m liking George a whole lot more this season (although unlike Ianto, I actually enjoyed the reluctant werewolf in the first series, and the latter only required few tweaks rather than a drastic personality transplant). Annie is still brilliant, and has finally been allocated some of the much-needed SFX budget – something George and Mitchell hogged the first time around. Lenora Crichlow’s impeccable comic acting soars without a murderous boyfriend to long for, and one scene involving a toaster nearly had me in stitches.

In spite of all this frothing praise, I’m a bit worried about Mitchell. Series 2 sees him become the leader and attempted reformer of Bristol’s vampire community. All seems to be going well until a bomb destroys their HQ and kills Ivan, a shady 200-something-year-old whose only purpose appears to swagger around mocking Mitchell and receiving nothing but affection in return. The death of this tall prick who spent five episodes undermining Mitchell’s efforts to kick his and everyone else’s blood habit is apparently enough for him to go apeshit and tear apart twenty people on a train carriage in an act of revenge upon humanity. Much as I loved the Mitchell that held coffee morning and got upset that The Real Hustle had been moved, I knew he wouldn’t be around forever, but this puts him in a difficult spot for series three. Cleaning his conscience and turning him back into the UK’s jolliest vampire would seem to0 awkward a tonal shift considering his crimes, and keeping the psychotic, moody monster that he becomes by the finale would irreparably turn him into one of the ‘evil’ ones – Herrick without the sense of humour. And without that, he’ll just be a bastard.

Speaking of bastards, Kemp was great. My prior knowledge of the primary antagonists of the series being a hardcore religious sect bent on ‘curing’ werewolves and staking vampires I was concerned that characters would turn into caricatures. That’s not the case with Kemp, who perfectly balances quiet menace with disturbing obsession. I originally thought the backstory regarding his family being killed by vampires was a bit unecessary (why did he need a “REVENGE, mwa ha ha” motivation? Were his religious convictions and reckless torture and manslaughter of the werewolves in the chamber not enough to establish he and supernaturals don’t get on?), the scene where he gloats to Mitchell (in “fackin’ mental so I’mma choke you'” mode) about his forced exorcism of Annie, his ultimate retaliation, is wonderfully tense. Had he had nothing to say except “But but but you’re possessed by the Devil!”, the confrontation would’ve been meek at best. Kemp shares the same smugness as Owen from series 1, albeit conveyed in a way that’s actually scary rather than supremely annoying.

Finally – and I don’t normally consider these when buying DVDs – I strongly recommend watching the extras. There are some great examples of the production team’s drive to improve on the high standards of series 1, but the highlights are always when Aiden Turner shows up. Brilliantly out of character, his repeated set visits with a recently-purchased DSLR are some of the funniest things I’ve seen in making-ofs since Auto-Tune the News astonishingly revealed that they secretly use a green screen.


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