Monday, 6 February 2012

Being Rebooted

The excellent and treasurable Being Human returned to our screens last night with what was almost certainly the most important episode in the history of the show.

Let’s rewind for a moment. Series three ended with the deaths of Mitchell and the (Final?) death of Herrick (and McNair the episode before that) and a hero shot of George, Nina and Annie about to start the fight against the coming Vampire take-over of Wyndham and the Old Ones. A mere hour later and we learn that Nina and Wyndham are dead and we see the death of George.

The death's of Nina and Wyndham were unsatisfactory for having taken place off screen (not the first time the show has resorted to this stunt). It is understandable that with George dying in the episode, there was not really room to dwell on these other deaths. But ideally we needed an episode devoted to those events before moving onto George's passing and the reboot. As it is what we get is a show making lemonade out of lemons. 

There's plenty of lemonade being made elsewhere. George “tricking” his body into transforming occurs solely to allow for his death to take place. The skins of prophecy, as interpreted by him off The Fast Show (This week, I shall be mostly eating babies!) and Harry Potter, are crowbarred into the series mythos inelegantly to say the least. The end hints at Splodge killing herself, which in turn suggests that we have yet to see the last of George and, together with our new ghost, that Annie's days are numbered (Ghost going nuclear to end the Old Ones?).

The fact that there is now only Annie left from the series one cast brings home the reality that the flat share fantasy comedy of series one is now long gone. Being Human has always chopped and changed styles and pushed forward into ever darkening territory. With each series the pressure on the core trio intensified. But the core and the show held firm against everything.

The bloodbath of the last three episodes has removed the core and the question must be whether the show can survive and thrive where our trio of misfits were unable to do so. In some ways it may prove to be to the shows benefit. A series with Annie, George and Nina would always have had a Mitchell shaped hole in it. A series with Annie, Tom and Hal may prove to be simply be a regeneration.

The early indications of last night’s episode (and the on-line prequels) are reasonably positive. Although what we got was something of a bloodbath, with hints of a bleak future to come, there is also promise of a lighter tone than that of series three. Tom and Hal both look to be less angst ridden than George and Mitchell. It is also worth remembering that the “supernaturals behaving badly” vibe of series one really did exist only for that season. Ever since then we have been heading into darker and darker territory with Mitchell’s “Box Tunnel 20” underground massacre being a point of no return for the show.

Annie remains in place as the compassionate heart of the show. She remains a person who is prone to fucking up when the heat is on, but I am optimistic that she will be taking the lead from now on and getting her shit together. We have seen in the past that she can be a powerful force and it really is time for that to become a more prominent feature of her character. Basically, she now needs to be the leader of the gang.

Next week promises to be the “real” season premier and it will be interesting to see whether the new crew can manage to equal the interplay of the old. Epic Vampire Wars are all very well and good, but are frankly ten a penny these days. Being Human's real draw was the friendship between supernatural outcasts. Doctor Who, Torchwood and Hustle have all managed to make major cast changes work with aplomb, let's hope Being Human can joint their ranks.

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