When the BBC’s Being Human first stalked onto the screen, it was alarmingly unlike the average BBC Three flatshare series.
For one, it featured a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf. And those expecting “Two Pints Of Blood And A Packet Of Death” had to wait a lot longer than anticipated for the first nob joke. (Although it did come in the end.)
Instead, it demonstrated a capability for straight-faced character drama and involved fantasy, with the odd joke to keep the non-geeks involved. There were a few shaky episodes, but it ended up being a genuinely warm yet dark adult fantasy, in the vein of Angel.
With the opening episodes of its second series, Being Human has once again skipped to one side and thwarted expectations. No longer does it simply resemble Angel, it resembles… one of the more depressing seasons of Angel. The mid-run years when all the lead characters seemed doomed in their endeavours.
The events of the previous series finale do justify the supernatural housemates being a little unhappy, but this viewer did miss the light-hearted bonding moments. Happily, the second and third episodes seem to be moving back in this direction, with the sense of doom being offset by a reliable (if grim) sense of humour. If this review had been written after seeing only the first, I would have to advise hiding all sharp objects before viewing.
For other reasons as well, this episode is not the strongest in Being Human’s history. George’s dark turn is enthusiastically portrayed by Russell Tovey, but is also so emphatic that one finds it hard to believe he hasn’t been possessed, or at least hit hard on the head.
But his hesitant charm re-emerges in the next one, and it’s odd how that alone makes everything seem better. In the third week, he even plays a more convincingly written depressed version of George, hopefully underlining that the earlier attempt was a mere blip.
In fact, a scene from the third episode where the three housemates attempt to watch The Real Hustle nearly caused me to have a hysteric fit. Although none of us want to see Being Human descend into BBC Three mediocrity, scenes like that, or Annie’s ludicrous matchmaking shortly later, are as important to the health of the series as the crying and gothic slaughter.
But the supernatural uber-storylines remain present, including new villains who combine the most unsettling elements of religion and science. Meanwhile, Mitchell the vampire is thrust into the undead underworld, uncovering a degree of depravity greater even than his own use of hairstyling products.
Despite the new series starting on a shaky note, it has the potential to be another good year. [Nick Bryan]