Thursday, February 26, 2009

Being Human

There is a lot of good sci-fi telly on at the moment. There is Lost, which I would highly recommended. (The new series is really cracking.) Then there is Battlestar Galactica, also a great watch as we gain more answers, and questions along the way. Heroes has also recently returned. I feel it lost it's way a bit last chapter, but it's still highly entertaining telly, and the new chapter has started promisingly. Last but not least, there is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, another great show. And of course we have Red Dwarf's return in April, something I've kept on about in the previous posts.*

Another genre that has attracted my interest in my sojourn in this century is horror. Nothing like a good scare to get the diodes sparking, but also the story opportunities such themes provide are awesome.** Couple that with decent character development and some comedy thrown in, and you're onto a good thing.

This leads me to the new -but alas soon to finish- BBC3 series Being Human. It is about 3 people living in a flat together, one who happens to be a vampire, one a ghost, and one a (rather squeaky in his human form) werewolf. It started off as a pilot episode, and the programme almost got no further. However, due to fan reaction, the BBC decided they would commission a series after all. Some things were changed. The vampires are less Gothic and stereotypical, certainly an improvement. And there were 2 new actors playing the roles of the vampire and the ghost.

Having seen the pilot, I was delighted to learn of it's return, although I had misgivings concerning the change of cast as I rather liked the previous actors. I particularly liked Andrea Riseborough as the role of the ghost. She just captured that sense of lost soul so well.

I really needn't have worried though. The new actors' take on the characters is a bit different, but certainly not in a bad way. Lenora Critchlow's version of Annie (the ghost) is less spooky, a bit posher, but just as vulnerable and, very human.

Aidan Turner has also done a good job taking over the role of Mitchell the vampire from Guy Flanagan. And Russell Tovey continues as George the fussy werewolf. I'll admit, I had some doubts on his acting ability. He has a rather strange way of speaking. He... is... very.. much... into.. speaking.. slowly... and over...enunc...ia..ting and has a tendency to squeak when exasperated. And he screams like a girl when afraid or going through his 'change.' I wouldn't change (heh) him now though. He is very endearing, and the girly screaming has a lot of comedy potential. (That sounds awfully condescending. Point is, despite my misgivings the acting style really does fit with the character well, although it wouldn't hurt to tone it down a little bit.)

As for the plot of the programme, the sheer variety in the stories has kept me entertained, being funny one moment, sad and poignant the next, then suddenly pulling the rug from under you and going to a rather dark place.

I wouldn't be honest if I said there wasn't anything I was uncertain of. There were times when I felt they went a bit too far (the vampire snuff video that features in episodes 3 and (less) in 4 being a good example.) But the fact is, it is a very dark adult show and such uncomfortable reactions are to be expected. It isn't ALL what the show is about though, and it is the variety which is part of what makes the programme great.

If I had another criticism (and I suspect 'criticism' is too strong a word here) it would be that the episodes sometimes have a slightly disjointed feel particularly at the end. I think this is mainly due to cramming so much within each episode. You sometimes feel that the story is coming to a natural end, and then another bit of plot surfaces, sometimes with a twist. I'm not convinced this is a bad thing necessarily though. It feels a bit discordant at the time, but in retrospect provides a thread leading to the next episode and a reminder that all is not hunky dory in this world.

It was my hope that a new series would be commissioned. There was some doubt on this. There were rumors that executives in the BBC hated the programme and wanted it canceled. Whether or not this is just unfounded rumor based on fan paranoia, I don't know. However, I recently learned that a new series of eight episodes has indeed been commissioned! This is great news, as the six episodes we're having (episode 6 appears this Sunday) just isn't enough, (although to be fair it is reasonable for a first series).

In conclusion, it's great. And IT'S BRITISH!

For more information on the programme, blogs, and behind the scene stuff or if you want to catch up on the episodes, just go here.

EDIT- If you wish to add any comments on that site, for some reason Firefox will not links to log-in. Internet Explorer shows them just fine though.

* And three of those programmes all feature artificial life forms. A coincidence? I think not. [South African Mode]Once you've had mech there's no going beck.[/South African mode]

Sorry, that was an awful pun. I'm not sure what came over me then. I-I-I... Burr...


**It looks like I should provide examples here, but as this post is about a specific programme rather than the horror genre as a whole, I shall decline. I was slipping into waffle mode there. Introductions can be the most difficult stuff to write.

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