Monday, March 01, 2010

Being Human – season 2 – review

dvd

Directed by: Various

First aired: 2010

Contains spoilers

The second season of Being Human was a welcome addition to the TV schedule. Following immediately on from Season 1 it stretched itself to an 8 episode run, rather than 6, and like the first season concerned itself with the unusual housemates of Mitchell (Aiden Turner) the vampire, George (Russell Tovey) the werewolf and Annie (Lenora Crichlow) the ghost.

At the close of season 1 we were in a position that George had killed Herrick (Jason Watkins) the leader of the vampires and, in doing so, had accidentally infected his girlfriend, Nina (Sinead Keenan), with lycanthropy. In the series coda a mysterious man, Kemp (Donald Sumpter, Dracula), had phoned a professor and said he had found *them*.

beating up GeorgeThe first few episodes of this season pitched the series at a much darker level than the season before and started with a premise that seemed – to me at least – to be a plot hole or inconsistency. This was because one of the first things we see is George being attacked by vampires because he killed Herrick, with Mitchell coming to the rescue, and yet… How did they know? The vampires were only aware that Herrick and Mitchell were to fight. Only Nina, Mitchell and Annie were witness to the events. Would George have bragged? Would Mitchell have told the truth, leaving his friend vulnerable for 27 days a month? It seems unlikely.

Kemp in the houseThis is the shame of the season, that the series is brilliantly written and then lets itself down with occasional clunky moments in either plotting or in real world facts. Bugs (of the spying variety) are seen that are way too small to be self powering, for instance. Indeed the house is bugged by Kemp and his cohorts and yet – with a chance to have free rein round the house to fit said bugs – only bug one room with one bug – it seems unlikely. We also get an explosion that, given the bomb location, defied the laws of physics when it came to its blast direction and was rather selective in who it didn’t kill.

things get rather darkOver the eight hours we'd perhaps expect some faux pas, but the moments starkly stood out against some brilliant writing. An episode where George and Annie decide to get local publican Hugh (Nathan Wright) back together with his estranged girlfriend (Lauren O’Neil) was wonderfully written and an episode with George suffering tourette type attacks was in equal parts darkly disturbng and also comedy genius – for make no mistake, no matter how dark the season got, the show never forgot that it also had a (dark) comedy aspect.

Lenora Crichlow as AnnieIn the main we saw Annie struggling with her continued existence and trying to keep away from ‘the men with sticks and ropes’; guardians of death who wanted to pull her through the doors that lead to the other side. Annie’s journey through the season was very much a solo one, though to be fair it was the same for all the housemates who became wrapped in their own dilemmas.

Russell Tovey as GeorgeFor George it was a question of relationships, with both the inner wolf and with women. Of coming to terms with passing his curse to Nina and through other relationships that developed through the season – all tied into his quest for normality. A sequence where George loses track of time and tries to hold himself together as he gets to safety – his change threatening to come on a busy high street – was fantastically realised.

Aiden Turner as MitchellMitchell received the meatiest storylines. He is faced with the breakdown and savagery of vampire society as the guiding influence of Herrick has gone. He is forced, eventually, to take the reins and take over the vampires himself. This leads him to try and make the vampires go blood free as he is trying to do. He gets (dubious) help in this from an old friend called Ivan, brilliantly portrayed by Paul Rhys. All the while he is trying to build a relationship with a new doctor at the hospital, Lucy (Lyndsey Marshal).

Kemp in exorcist modeOf course there is then the mysterious Kemp, lurking in the background and trying to influence their lives. Kemp is a (possibly ex-)priest and is religiously obsessed; seeing ghosts as things that need helping to pass over through exorcism, werewolves as people possessed by a demon and vampires as irredeemably evil.

Herrick rebornLore-wise we get little more than we had before, There is a lovely scene of an attack on vampires, centuries ago, that was interlaced with a Monty Python sense of the ridiculous – in the bureaucracy involved with witch-hunts – that was so ridiculous it would likely have been accurate. When executing each other, vampires smash the teeth out with a brick or stone, emulating vampire hunter techniques. Vampires, it seems, only ‘dust’ if killed by stake. Otherwise, if killed by explosion, fire or werewolf they leave body parts behind. We do discover one thing in the series coda that has no impact on this season so I will spoil. It seems that enough blood spilled upon the buried bones of a vampire can restore said vampire. Herrick is reborn in the season coda… This raised a couple of questions such as (and trying to avoid spoilers of too large a size) how did the one who knew the lore work this out – she was hardly the brightest button in the box – and why did the other one involved choose Herrick for rebirth, there was a more obvious choice.

The weaker moments in season are more noticeable because the stronger moments are so strong. There is fantastic observational writing when it comes to interpersonal relationships. The combination of comedy, pathos and downright dark nastiness in this season worked a treat and sees this in the upper quartile of TV shows. Tighter writing in places could have seen this reach even greater heights. 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

At the time of review season 2 is available for DVD preorder:

9 comments:

The Black Count said...

I loved this season and I think it was better than the first. Perhaps due to the fact I loved the characters and were more familiar with them, but I think also that their plights were much more dire in this time around, and their human facades were crumbling around them.

As you know I love flashbacks, and I found them to a welcome addition to this season, even though the earliest I think was in the last episode 1941 or so.

It's a bit of a pity that werewolves aren't immortal as well, like they are in some lore versions, for it makes George's condition more tragic as he'd leave Annie and Mitchell behind when he passes on.

I'm not sure if I was satisfied with the ending though, I mean Herrick wasn't that much of a threat in the first place IMHO, George and Co took him out easy enough. Sure he is Mitchell's sire and all, and all we can hope for is that he got some extra mojo up his sleeve upon his resurrection ala Classical vampires.

One final thing, I was actually expecting Mitchell to turn Lucy, and I really wasn't satisfied with what happened to her in the end.

Sure Kemp has some creepy fascination with her re the Garfield cup, but I enjoyed the actress in this (and finally recognised her as Cleopatra in HBO's ROME) and I feel she would have been good with Mitchell and perhaps with her knowledge help Annie's dilemma.

On closing, it'd be interesting to see how the others help Annie, because so far they'd tried to ground the supernatural lore quite 'realistically', in as much as Vampires don't have physical powers such as superspeed, pick up a car, turn into a bat etc, the Wolves can't turn when they like or have access to some of their wolf powers in human form like in some mythos.

So how in the world the vampire and the wolves are going to pass into the Underworld to kick some 'stick and rope' bearing prison guards remains to be seen....but I'll be there on the edge of my seat like last time to see it.

Kudos to BBC to show the world how Supernatural drama is really done, and I fear the USAs rendtition of this, I imagine it to come off like Friends...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Black Count - I really enjoyed it too, more than season 1 and my concern is that something so good can get so clunky as it did in places. A little more thought would have rectified some of the issues. It is a sin of the BBC from time to time and this could, genuinely, be one of the best vampire related series ever made with just a bit of care occasionally. For instance, why did the postman (in the epilogue) knock? If a parcel fits through a door they just put it through. If it fits and they knock it needs signing for and they wouldn't deliver it... it was just a clunky way of saying they were in hiding... a line to explain how Kemp found them was also needed.

Ahead lie big spoilers.

Re the Garfield mug, I felt that was pointless. If they had done something like that 3 episodes before and then did something with it then I could see the point. In the end it was all sorts of creepy with no point to it.

I don't know if Lucy has gone - we never saw her go through the door and thus she may be a ghost. Indeed she may have to atone for her sins prior to opening another door... just a thought.

I actually thought that she might be turned, or even Kemp as a punishment, and it would be interesting to see what happened to the third man. I expected to see him pressure splattered but... if lycanthropy is more curse (as Kemp maintained) than disease then the ghost of the werewolf girl might have been able to pass something on to him... another thought.

Re Herrick, who knows if he'll be the same as he was... perhaps he'll be feral... however I would have thought that Daisy would have resurrected Ivan and not Herrick. I also wondered why they (Daisy and Mitchell) didn't go on a recruiting binge on the train.

The Black Count said...

SPOILERS



I too, thought they were going to recruit the people on the train, but perhaps it leaves a bigger message of an eye for eye?

Yes, I assume that door that Annie came through at the end to grap Kemp was actually Lucy's door, and they didn't show her go through it, so maybe Mitchell gave her his blood, which I think unlikely.

But if Lucy IS a ghost then they have a better chance of using her unique abilities to help get Annie back. Apparently from what I've seen of Lyndsey Marshal (Lucy) in her resume, she's done quite a bit of theatre and film, so it would be a shame to lose her now.

Well if Daisy saw that this could resurrect Herrick, she would logically use the same process next for Ivan if he wasn't cremated.


But that ressurection scene reminds me of the last episode of UK's ULTRAVOILET where that reporter who was turned met people (I think the hunters) on the bridge including the ex-fiancee of the dead vampire, and pouring the dead vampire's ash on the ground, he drenched it in his own vampire blood (and via SFX) we see him come back to life in a swirl of magic, clothes and all.

But the series ended there so we don't know what happened after, like we will with Herrick...

Lastly, seeing the ghosts of the dead werewolves they killed is a nice flip of the werewolves seeing the cadaver ghosts of the victims they killed in AWIL.

It's a pity we may have to wait again till next January for a third season, too long of a wait. I love these BBC shows (I enjoyed HEX as well) but they need to make them longer than 6-8 eps, I'm sure DR Who is longer....

Simon Dyda said...

I enjoyed the 2nd series, but there were bits that grated:

1. Enough with the George and Nina tearfests already.

2. The whole "don't kill Kemp in Annie's name" scene was daft. 99.9999999999% of sentient beings would have let Mitchell rip his throat out. Bloody whiney werewolf again.

3. Didn't like the ending (from the moment Lucy turns up at the cottage until the demise of Kemp). Too hurried, illogical and sloppy IMO.

4. Why does Daisy spend all that blood bringing back Herrick when she could have brought back Ivan?

Favourite character: without a doubt Paul Rhys as Ivan. Great performance, and some of Ivan's lines were real beauties.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Simon, cheers for that.

I have to say that, iro point #2 it is also the polar oppsite of his decision in the finale of the season before.

iro point #3 & 4 - absolutely agreed. Point 3 was an example of were the sloppier writing let down the better moments.

Agree with your comment iro the Ivan character also.

Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

This series was awesome, wasn't it?!

So much darker than the last. The last series got me because it was different, a little kooky, was about vampires etc and was fun.

This time round, it had all that but also it took it to another level for me.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hiyah Sarah, it did get wonderfully dark - now all it needs is to tighten the looser aspects in season 3, keep the level of darkness and (as you say) kookiness and it'll be the best thing on TV

Simon Dyda said...

I'm also slightly mystified that there was anything left of Herrick to resurrect, given that he was all George had to chew on for a whole night.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It does seem odd, then again he does leave 90% of a deer behind when he kills that!