The premise of BBC serial horror Being Human, currently showing on BBC America sounds like the start of a really bad joke; a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf move into a house together in modern day England. This marks the BBC's second recent foray into pure post Buffy terrain after the high quality Hex, but really, since the Dr. Who revival took off, they’re all about the kooky. But where Hex managed to master such basic staples as atmosphere and mythology, Being Human frequently goes a few better mainly as a result of the writers uncanny knack for nailing down the problems every twenty-something has these days like unrequited love and housemates who don’t clean their blood up after themselves.
Annie (Lenora Crichlow), quite possibly the most titillating ghost to ever grace the small screen, provides the emotional backbone for the story. She is just getting used to this whole being a ghost thing when who moves into her home but Mitchell (Aidan Turner) and George (Russell Tovey) – vampire and werewolf respectively. Plus she is still nursing a deep crush for her fiance Owen who continues to hang about in his new role of landlord. Things become excruciating for Annie when Owen starts flaunting his new girlfriend Janey around. She, appropriately, is tanned to the point of orange and dumber than all holy hell.
Vampires, scorching hot right now, only make up a third of this story but Mitchell is worth suffering all the emo characters in Twilight combined. This show is really about metaphors writ large and that is apparent in Mitchell more than anyone else. He is in the process of trying to go straight and get off the blood because he feels that too many lives are being left in ruins in his wake. He goes to meetings, fights withdrawal and watches it all go down the drain once he falls in with the wrong crowd. He also has a history of preying on females, charming them for one night and them leaving their lives in disarray.
But, you see, he's after their blood not their flesh. But massaging that into an actual narrative proves to be somewhat difficult for them as too many episodes, especially early on, feel antiquated and self-contained. For instance, in an early episode George deals with a new friend/stalker who is overly eager to insert herself into his life. Once that problem is solved though said young lady vanishes from his life and is never spoken of again.
The writers clearly love these characters and work hard to make us feel the same way. The show revolves around them and their emotions more than magics and cool powers, so despite the supernatural beings that they actually are, we view them as human. Near the mid point of the season there is a shocking heel turn that changes the complexion of the show. That leads into a final winding down where it looks as though the writers might have felt the need to give their fans more red meat, so to speak.
A story arc involving a cultish vampire tribe who tries to recruit Mitchell in their play for world domination provides the darkness. It's an arc that is really only mediocre but is still pushed to the forefront and encompasses a disproportionate amount of screen time. But everything else here is so wonderful that giving them a pass on that one misstep is in your best interest. Being Human is Buffy for grown ups as only the BBC can do, as no one else in the world would consider a budget that wouldn’t finance a toddler’s birthday party a badge of honor.
Starring: Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, Gregg Chillin
Creator: Toby Whithouse
Network: BBC America
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