Feb 3, 2011

[TV] Being Human (UK): Season 1

Being Human (UK): Season 1In these modern times where "paranormal romance" is already a book genre, it's hard to be a true fan of all things supernatural. Before your most recognizable vampire fans would be the Anne Rice followers and werewolf movie fans were largely isolated groups that didn't quite have an iconic figure to use as a rallying cry.

Now it seems that vampires, werewolves other paranormal archetypes are pale shadows of their former selves with franchises like Twilight and Fallen muddying the waters and with new series like I Am Number Four threatening to infect the core worlds of science fiction. It's a weird time.

But right before True Blood debuted on television and before Twilight came up with its first feature film, BBC Three aired an somewhat unobtrusive pilot featuring three paranormal characters living together in Bristol. I doubt anyone could have predicted how far this little show could go given its now entering its third season with a US spin-off already airing as well.

And thankfully, they didn't have to go the "Twilight" route, for lack of a better term.

Being Human is a supernatural drama with touches of comedy that airs on BBC Three. It was created and written by Toby Whithouse, whose writing credits also include a few Doctor Who episodes such as School Reunion and The Vampires of Venice.

Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Aidan Turne...Image via WikipediaThe show features the joined lives of three paranormal companions thrust together by circumstance. We started with the vampire Mitchell, who is struggling to avoid drinking human blood in order to live a more normal life. He works at a hospital together with George (Russell Tovey), who is finding to find normalcy despite the fact that he turns into a werewolf come every full moon. The two decide to rent a flat together in order to live more "normal" lives and discover that it's being haunted by the ghost of Annie, who died in the apartment.

The three become decent friends in the course of the series as other events unfold around them. Mitchell has to deal with the continuing advances of the local vampires who want to bring him back into the fold. George is pretty much spending almost all of his time either coping with his violent werewolf nature or just trying to fit in the world and get past his social awkwardness. And Annie is working on figuring out the reason for her death and why she still lingers on with the added complication that her ex-fiancé Owen (Gregg Chillin) is also George and Mitchell's landlord.

The pilot first aired in 2008 with Andrea Riseborough as Annie and Guy Flanagan as Mitchell , however these actors we replaced when the show went into full production for 2009. I can see why they opted to change them since the chemistry just wasn't there between the three of them and the show really thrives on how well the trio interact and bond as an alternative family unit.

Flanagan was replaced with the somewhat more charismatic and intense Aidan Turner. And Annie was thankfully replaced by the much more endearing Lenora Crichlow. Together with Tovey, the three are an amazing cast that you can really believe do get along in real life. On-screen they manage to effectively convey the bonds of friendship between them as they struggle through their unusual lives.

At first I was expecting more of a laugh-out-loud kind of comedy, but instead we got a rather dark and somber dramatic piece with comedy bits mixed in. And I'm not complaining - the show definitely works for me all the more because of this tone. The series chose not to shy away from the fact that vampires, werewolves and ghosts are effectively "monsters" by our definition and thus their lives are practically cursed and difficult in so many ways. Despite their somewhat noble aspirations, there's no getting around the fact that Mitchell needs to feed on human blood, George turns into a mindless monster once a month and Annie is very much dead and an aberration somehow given her unwillingness to leave this plane.

This careful balance between their attempts to live a normal life and their darker natures provides a constant sense of struggle throughout the piece that really gives the series its character. Add in how well the actors mesh together along with their talents as individuals and the whole thing comes together as a series that will truly make its mark in the world. I'm glad that the series managed to get off the ground the way it did and it continues to be successful in both the UK and now the US.

Being Human is a stellar and powerful series that's hard to ignore and definitely worth your time. It gets 4.5 shots of George's butt out of a possible 5. You can get copies of the first season on Blu-ray or on DVD.

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