Views from the Stalls and Views from the Sofa - My reviews and thoughts on all things theatre and television. Follow me on Twitter @LikeTheMonth_

Monday, 28 February 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 6 - 'Daddy Ghoul' - Review

What’s the Story?

George learns that his father has passed away and so attends his funeral, discovering his father hiding behind a tree.  By trying to help George Senior ‘go through the door’ the two get to spend time together and it is clear they truly are Like Father, Like Son.  Meanwhile, a detective turns up at Honolulu Heights to speak to Mitchell, following up on Nina’s anonymous tip off.  Annie decides to help solve the Box Tunnel mystery, blind to the fact the killer is right in front of her.  Oh and the madman in the attic? Still there, still creepy. 

What’s the Verdict?

‘Daddy Ghoul’ is an enjoyable, supremely entertaining and at times downright hilarious episode of Being Human but after the drama and angst of the previous two weeks, returning to a primarily comedic episode at this point in the series seemed, well, just a little odd.  It felt a little like the writers had the idea for George’s family reunion and just randomly dropped it into the box marked ‘Episode 6’; such was the difference in tone to last week I couldn’t help thinking I might have appreciated this episode more had it come earlier in the series.  Perhaps however we were in need of a breather after the fingernail destroying intensity of last week and this was by no means a bad episode.  In fact, it was in many ways classic Being Human.  A touching and very human story told in a bizarre, eccentric and humourous way, coupled with a darker, tense B-story that cast a threatening shadow over the house and its inhabitants.

This episode was similar in tone and structure to Episode 2, ‘Adam’s Family’, and as per that episode, both couples essentially had their own separate plot threads.  When attending his father’s funeral, George bumped into none other than the man himself and presuming him to be a ghost, they began a quest to identify the unfinished business that would allow him to pass over.  James Fleet was wonderful as George Senior, taking on the mannerisms, speech patterns and fetching fleeces of George in a classic case of Like Father, Like Son.  With three years to catch up on, the sheer mundanity of how they chose to spend their time was hilarious with Fleet, Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan pitching the comedy perfectly (the scene in the park particularly brilliant). There were many lovely little touches (‘Sandscastle’) and his list of unfinished business was genius (Not having seen Titanic, an unpaid newspaper bill and the fact he told Auntie Linda she could eat pasta on the Atkins Diet).

The twist that George Snr was not in fact dead came as a genuine surprise, but makes his reaction to George’s matter-of-fact supernatural revelations even funnier second time around, with George Snr believing his son & potential daughter-in-law to have met in a psychiatric hospital. There were some very sweet and touching scenes in the caravan and it was lovely to see George’s parents reunited, driving a caravan into the sunset in typical British fashion but I couldn’t help feeling that it seemed like George had only been away for three months not three years. The joy on his father’s face was plain to see, but it would have been nice to have spent a bit more time with his mother.  We know that Russell Tovey is heartbreakingly good in emotional scenes and George being the sensitive soul that he is, I thought we could have seen both he and his parents react more to his reappearance after three whole years.

As George’s life seems really to be coming together, Mitchell’s is falling apart.  Following Nina’s anonymous tip off, a police detective, Nancy Reed, turns up at the house to question Mitchell on the Box Tunnel 20.  Following last weeks confrontation between Nina and Mitchell it might have been good to see more of how they are with each other now, as it was we were only treated to a brief scene with Nina looking particularly worried and potentially feeling guilty, plus nothing of Nina's relationship with Herrick.  Last weeks events seemed completely game changing at the time, but at the beginning of this episode you could be forgiven for thinking none of it had actually happened. 

 Outraged that someone would give Mitchell’s name to the police, Annie has taken it upon herself to help solve the crime, particularly when she stumbles upon the information that Lia was a victim of the massacre.  Annie is ditzy but not stupid, and as blinded by love as she is at the moment, surely it won’t take much longer for the pieces to start to slot together.  Nina’s actions last week seem to have polarised opinion in the fan community, but wouldn’t it be ironic if it was in fact Annie that brought about Mitchell’s downfall? Heartbreaking of course, but it is looking increasingly more likely.

In some respects it was a shame to see Annie returning to her ditzy, comedic role this week after her confident dismissal of Herrick last week.  Although I would still like to see more of her all powerful self, I can have few complaints when her scenes are as funny as they were in this episode. A personal highlight was her behaviour in the police station, as if she and Nancy were partners in their own buddy cop movie.  Then of course there was the Cheryl Cole incident. 

This scene was not only laugh out loud funny, but led to a genuinely sweet scene between Mitchell and Annie where they behaved more like a couple than they have previously.  Entering the room, with an amused expression on his face, Mitchell was funny, charming and eminently likeable here. Very much the Mitchell we know and love.  Elsewhere in the episode however, his behaviour was erratic, violent and genuinely quite scary.  Seeing Mitchell attack a defenceless Herrick is difficult to watch, regardless of who his victim is, and upon discovering Nancy leaving with the incriminating book I thought he might actually attack her.  His behaviour is so destructive he is becoming harder to defend and I suspect this is a deliberate ploy by the writers that will lead to his redemption at the end of the series.    
Nancy may lack evidence, but by the end of the episode she knows Mitchell is involved and the sense of impending doom around the character only grows. 

Overall, this was a very entertaining episode of Being Human that I enjoyed very much, with all actors doing a brilliant job to bring the material to life in a genuinely funny way, with George and Nina forming a warm & solid partnership.  I would not be surprised however if opinions are divided by ‘Daddy Ghoul’.  For those that enjoy the comedy element of the show it will have provided a welcome relief but for others, coming at this point in the series, the episode may have felt a little out of place, with only the secondary plot thread moving the main arc forward.  The pieces are all in place however for what I have no doubt will be a stunning end to a very strong third series.

Best Scene

A number of contenders here again, Nina’s exasperation with George Senior in the park had me laughing out loud and Annie quoting Cheryl Cole in an effort to be comforting was hilarious and typical Annie.  I loved that she was so particular about making sure she had the correct number of ‘back’s!

However once again, I think Jason Watkins stole the show at the last moment with another mesmerising performance as Herrick.  With less screen time this week he still made the biggest impact and Herrick’s growing self-awareness of what he needs can only spell trouble.  Encountering Nancy in the bathroom and already having tasted her blood, I felt sure that he was going to bite her.  The tension here was palpable and it really could have gone either way.  It was scary stuff and made up the most compelling scene of the week.

Best Lines

With less angst this week the quips flowed thick and fast in a very quotable episode!

George: Me & you. Mum & Dad.  We’re going to be the ones that have to teach them how to ride a bike, we’re going to have to set their curfew, we’re going to have to-
Nina: Relocate to 1950s America where they actually use the term curfew. 
Mitchell : ‘It’s difficult to find the right words at a time like this.  Why not rely on the literary greats like Auden....and Cheryl Cole’.  – Mitchell, attempting to reassure Annie after she quoted ‘Fight For This Love’ to comfort George.

George Snr : Kick ball change is a jazz step isn’t it?
George: No they do use it in Latin American too. I’m sure I’ve seen it on Strictly.

George: It’s just him living in our house and you shacked up here like King of the Gypsy’s.

George: Oh God not another ghost who makes tea they can’t drink.

Nancy: ‘Thank you for your time and for a truly extraordinary cup of tea’ – Nice to see Annie’s tea making skills finally getting the recognition they deserve.

George Snr: Well couldn’t she have moved over a bit, that piece of wood she was floating on was massive. -  George Snr has same thought we all had when watching Titanic for the first time.

Nina: Ooh it’s a torch. A torch with a spoon. A spoon torch.
George Snr: Sporch! *laughs* - We all want a sporch now right?

George: The name of the cult was The Church of Earth...the Church of Earth, Wind and Fire.  – Another classic tall story from George, accompanied by Nina’s increasing Faces Of Incredulity.

Nina: Oh again with the threefold! – Nina getting increasingly exasperated at having to deal with effectively a second George!

George: No No we’ve tipped completely the other way now
Nina: Yeah you’re a bit...rapey now. 

Marcus: I’ve only got five burgers on the grill but if you’re expecting any more dead relatives to drop by do let me know, I’ll put some more on.  – Ah sarcastic PE teachers, don’t you just love them. No? Me neither!

 Nina: GET IN – Nina’s reaction to George Snr punching Marcus in the face.

George: I’m a werewolf.
George Snr: Now you are taking some form of medication at the moment aren’t you George – The moment George finally plucks up the courage to tell his parents the truth & we realise they have been talking at cross purposes all along.


WHY DIDN’T YOU BURN THE BOOK ORGINALLY MITCHELL AND NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED? Ahem, sorry, had to get that one out of my system there.  Will Mitchell keep control & rid himself of Nancy without resorting to desperate measures? Will Annie realise the killer is right in front of her & what will she do if she does? How much longer will Herrick resist the temptation for blood? We had another mention of the Old Ones at the beginning of the episode, will we see them this series?

Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog at  for chat and and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 5 - 'The Longest Day' - Review

What’s the Story?

George stumbles upon an old face in the hospital psychiatric ward – Herrick is back, but not as we know him.  Claiming to have amnesia, Nina is forced to take him back to the B&B and Mitchell is not best pleased, especially when a Community Psychiatric Nurse appears to assess their suitability as carers.  Whether Herrick is telling the truth or not, his presence starts to fracture the relationships of the group and thanks to him Nina finally discovers Mitchell’s big secret. 

What’s the Verdict?

Although last weeks episode remains my favourite of the series so far, ‘The Longest Day’ certainly comes close despite being completely different in tone and style.  This episode was no less intense than ‘The Pack’ albeit in a very different way, taking place almost entirely in the B&B and therefore allowing a creepy, claustrophobic tension to ramp up throughout until another gripping final ten minutes that has changed the whole dynamic of the house.

I had a slight concern over whether bringing Herrick back was the right move, could they recreate the brilliance of the first series? I need not have worried.  Jason Watkins has such a strong screen presence, I find him quite mesmerising as Herrick and he has slipped back into the role perfectly.  Who would have thought Herrick would one day end up living in the same house as our heroes?  Herrick initally seems so different from the Herrick we knew, but scratch the surface and really the same cruel, manipulative streak is still there.  He cruelly and gleefully took Cara apart, leading to her suicide which I found genuinely surprising and had not seen coming at all.   Keeping Herrick’s motives ambiguous is a very clever idea at this stage, does he really have amnesia or is he fully aware of who everyone is?  We can theorise as much as we like on this and by not revealing his true intentions the writers have created a sinister and gripping scenario that is sure to generate plenty of discussion and keep us watching his every move.  My personal theory? I think Herrick genuinely does not know who he or the others are but that actually the human Herrick was just as creepy and dangerous as the vampire.  He is talking to everyone in turn, working out their role in the house and how he can take control, he knows Mitchell is the major threat to him and that he can use Nina to destroy him.  I could be entirely wrong of course, but that is one of the things I am loving about this series, it really could go in any direction and is almost impossible to predict. 
For example, just when I was beginning to convince myself that Nina would be the ‘wolf shaped bullet’ of the prophecy, that idea is brought to the forefront in such a way that I now think she is a red herring! This series is certainly keeping us guessing!

Talking of Nina, oh what have you done?! Her character has been written so consistently throughout the series that I think we all knew how she would react when she inevitably found out about the Box Tunnel 20.  Although calling the police does seem a little odd when you consider that it will surely draw unwanted attention to them all, I would have been more surprised if she hadn’t.  As far as Nina is concerned, she has just discovered that her housemate, her partner’s best friend and potential babysitter to her child, has massacred 20 innocent people and on top of that, actually seems to her to be keeping a proud record of achievement in the attic.  As much as we may be shouting at the television and feeling that she is being used and manipulated by Herrick, it is possible to understand her point of view. 

Especially combined with Mitchell’s behaviour in this episode (Aidan Turner was quite brilliant throughout). Mitchell whirled through the episode like such a destructive force, being quite menacing and aggressive to each character in turn.  His hallway ‘face-off’ with Nina was a particular highlight, with both actors really going for it and creating an intense and electric atmosphere.  His fixation on Lia’s prophecy however is affecting every decision he makes and leading him to angry and upsetting confrontations with George and Annie too. 

A heartbroken Annie is distressing to watch but here her despair seems to cause a resurgence of her powers and I suspect that this will come into play even more as the series concludes. 

Meanwhile, Community Psychiatric Nurse Wendy continued the tradition of great Being Human guest stars you just don’t want to see leave.  Played by the wonderful Nicola Walker, she infused Wendy with such humanity and likeability in such a short time that although she was played primarily for comic effect, I felt genuinely sad for her when she received Nina’s wrath (although I was pleased she managed to survive the episode, I was worried for a while!)  I also thought it nice to have another human in the building and a reminder that Annie is a ghost! We are so used to Annie coming and going that is easy to forget how unsettling and spooky her presence may be to a human. 

In all, this was another classy episode of Being Human, that showed you don’t need lots of special effects, locations or action to create gripping drama, just sharp dialogue and interesting characters.  Watching the relationships disintegrating is difficult to watch and makes me long for the days of the fun, playful montage at the end of the series opener.   However, there’s no denying that the distress of our beloved characters makes extremely compelling television and the wait between episodes is getting harder and harder. 

Best Scene

Although there are many candidates as usual, this week I am giving this accolade to the attic scene between Herrick and Annie.  Herrick was deeply unsettling here, circling Annie like his prey and mocking her for being ‘peripheral’ (an interesting line, given that it is a criticism of the Annie character I have read in the past).  What was even better however was seeing Annie stand up for herself, regaining some of that confidence she has lost recently and hopefully pre-empting a return to the all powerful Annie of previous series.  It just made me want to cheer for her!

Best Lines

‘Pissing Jenga’ –  Nina’s reaction to Annie’s idea of a celebratory night in. Interesting choice of game too, given that it involves dismantling a structure brick by brick until it topples down, a metaphor for our foursome perhaps?

It can’t be possible but it’s him. It’s definitely him. Is it him Mitchell?  - George, as decisive as ever.

‘Social services it’s gotta be.  She looks knackered and she has terrible hair’ – Annie’s first impressions of Wendy. 

Tena Lady moment’ – Wendy starts to get just a little bit jumpy left alone in the house.

It’s a contemplation room’ – Mitchell’s explanation as to why there is no bed in Annie’s room. 

‘I will wipe you from my memory and never mention your name again.  I will never tell my son or daughter that I had a friend called Mitchell, it will be as if we never met.  That’s it. Now you make your choice’.  – George finds his voice *sniff*

‘What am I? Onto you. That’s what I am. I’m onto you, little man’ – What can I say? Other than, GO ANNIE!

‘ If you don’t mind me saying so old son, I think you’re a bit touched with the simple stick’. ­– Oh Herrick, you may be a cruel, nasty, creepy barsteward, but nice to see you’re still funny!


Oh so many! This seemed like the beginning of the second chapter of the series and so introduced a whole new set of questions.  We still have the standard, wolf-shaped bullet and wolf pregnancy questions to answer but now there’s a ton more! Most significantly of course, what is going on with Herrick? Is his amnesia real? Or does he know exactly who he is and what he is doing? How long will Nina keep Mitchell’s secret from the others? What will happen when the police turn up? After her hallway confrontation with Mitchell and while George was stopping him on the stairs, Nina looked faint and unwell for a moment, her hand went to her stomach. Was this a reaction to what Mitchell had said, something else or completely meaningless?  The fruit in Herrick’s room has rotted, why? Is it a metaphor for Herrick being a ‘bad apple’ who rots everything he touches, or is that meant literally? He touched George and then George was aggressive towards Mitchell. Is there a link? It seems inevitable Herrick will eventually go bad again, when will it happen? Will he tell Mitchell the secret to resurrection? And finally, just what kind of hospital do they have in Barry? I don’t think much to our local but it’s starting to look positively luxurious in comparison!

Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog at  for chat and and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 4 - The Pack - Review

What’s the Story?
George and Nina seek out fellow werewolves McNair and Tom, hoping to find out whether their baby will survive Nina’s impending transformation.  Mitchell’s paranoia about Lia’s ‘wolf shaped bullet’ prophecy causes him to take drastic measures to try to rid himself of vampire hating McNair, while he and Annie discover the difficulties of a relationship with a ghost.
What’s the Verdict?
Well, frankly, I’m not quite sure where to start. Being Human, I love you. ‘The Pack’ expertly wove plot threads from the previous three episodes, creating a potent mixture of love, laughs and lycanthropes that amounted to the strongest episode of the series so far and one of the best hours of television I have seen for some time.  It was funny, heartwarming, touching, dramatic, mysterious and genuinely horrifying, with an epic final ten minutes that felt more akin to a series finale. 
An opening flashback to a long haired McNair and young Tom implied that Tom had indeed been born a werewolf but of course nothing is ever as it seems.  Robson Green gave a brilliant performance as the tough, brittle yet bizarrely (and quite charmingly) chivalric McNair, who had told the young and naive Tom that he was born a wolf, his mother was killed by vampires, there is a werewolf pack and a story about three little wolves and a big bad pig (just genius).  Upon seeing scars on Tom’s back, Nina became suspicious and ultimately unearthed the truth, that McNair had killed Tom’s real parents, scratched him as a baby and brought him up as his own.  Nina has such a strong moral compass, things are right or wrong in her world and she didn’t hesitate in telling Tom the truth.  I get the feeling the writers are reminding us of this trait to Nina’s personality to foreshadow her reaction when she discovers Mitchell’s big secret. 
Speaking of which, Lia’s ‘wolf-shaped bullet’ prophecy continued to haunt Mitchell, and despite his bravado he was clearly unsettled by McNair.  Unsettled enough to return to the home of Richard and Emma Hargreaves, last seen in Episode 2 issuing a threat against George and Nina.  As vile as they are, the Hargeaves’ are brilliant creations I was pleased to see return. 
Meanwhile, Mitchell and Annie experimented with how to have a physical relationship, leading to Annie’s production of a ‘sex list’, which was both cringeworthy and hilarious.  Annie encouraging Mitchell to pick up another woman, Sadie, in a club, so she could feel him through her, led to one of those scenes you can’t imagine in any show but Being Human, managing to be funny, scary and just downright weird all at the same time.  I have written my reservations about Mitchell and Annie as a couple in previous reviews, but the scene on the staircase was so sweet and touching.  If I had one minor criticism it is that we know Mitchell has had loving relationships before and some of what he said here didn’t quite tally, but Crichlow and Turner were so good that it was the first time I really believed in the relationship and I am now rooting for them to stay together. 
Then came the final ten minutes.  From the moment the vampires started circling George, Nina and Tom in the woods, the tension ramped up to almost unbearable levels and I can’t remember the last time I saw a more dramatic and heartstopping ten minutes of television.  The return to the cage was horrifying, the terror was written all over the faces of our heroes and I was genuinely on edge of my seat. 
This episode was so wonderfully written, it took all the seeds that had been planted throughout the series and went in a direction I absolutely was not expecting.  I suspect most of us thought we would see the cage again, but personally I thought it would be the series finale and in very different circumstances.  Just when you think you know where this show is going, the writers throw such a massive curveball that it is dizzying and really quite thrilling for the viewer.  This did seem like the closing of this chapter of the series, but Green and Michael Socha have more than made their mark in a small period of time and I would love to see them return.   
And as one chapter closes, another opens.  Just as we thought we could pause for breath, the final scene re-introduced the man we have been all been waiting for.  It’s Herrick! And not the Herrick we know. 
After such a barnstorming episode a week seems far too long to wait for the next installment and if the rest of the series matches the quality of ‘The Pack’ we are all certainly in for a treat.
Best Scene
Tom breaking into Honolulu Heights and his ensuing fight with Mitchell was brilliantly done, the hand held camera gave the scene a frantic, desperate feel fully capturing the emotion of the characters.  However, just when I thought that couldn’t be topped, we returned to the cage.
The idea of having the four werewolves transform together was great in itself but factor in the tension and terror of the cagefighting scenario and you had the most gripping scene of the series so far. Tom’s noble and brave suggestion that Nina could kill him to ensure she survived was a touching moment amidst the chaos and it was wonderful to see McNair, Mitchell and even Annie throwing everything at the vampires to save their friends.  The wolf effects seem even better than ever and this was an instance where the performances, writing, direction, music and effects all came together to create a truly stunning piece of television.  Bravo everyone!  
Best Lines
George: What you doing?
Annie: Ventriloquism!  - Worst attempt at a cover up ever?
George : I’m gonna have to teach them how to play football.  I’m gonna have to learn how to play football.    George on being a father.
Richard : You’re mongrels took away our boy, they humiliated us in our own home.
Emma : Dinner party ruined. – I know they are vile, sadistic racists but Richard and Emma do make me laugh.
Annie : Look, my first boyfriend took naked pictures of me while I was asleep and put them on the internet.  My second boyfriend got drunk and asked my Mum for a threesome.  My third boyfriend pushed me down the stairs and killed me! So I think a vampire’s pretty much marriage material given my track record.
George:  What about Gina? It’s a combination of George and Nina.
Nina: Well, it’s better than Norge   - I love Nina and her deadpan sense of humour.
Mitchell: I’ve got your back Digby  - Mitchell saving McNair!
Annie :  Will you stop being so bloody Cranford about everything, I’m dead already!
Annie: Lovely bra!
Annie: He’s quite intense!  -  Annie was on fantastic form this episode!  
Is Nina still pregnant? Now we know Tom wasn’t born a werewolf what does it mean for their little hairy baby? Will we see McNair and Tom again? Just who/what is the wolf-shaped bullet? Richard says the Old Ones are unhappy with Mitchell and retribution is coming from overseas.  What did he mean? How much longer can Mitchell keep his big secret? Just what is wrong with Herrick? I know I absolutely can’t wait to find out!
Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog at  for chat and and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Outcasts Episodes 1 & 2 - Review

I am a big sci-fi fan.  I count Firefly and the recent Battlestar Galactica as two of my all time favourite shows that I could watch again and again.  So when I heard the BBC were making a new sci-fi series, with a big name (if a little overused) cast for a primetime slot needless to say I was excited.  When I started writing this blog I had in mind that I would begin an episodic review of Outcasts in the same way I do Being Human.  So how do I feel having watched the opening two episodes?

Disappointed.  In fact, I don't think disappointed even begins to cover it.  The premise of the show is interesting, a group of humans have fled Earth and established a new colony on 'Carpathia', the South Africa location looks visually impressive and the actors all have a strong back catalogue of work both inside and out of the genre. Unfortunately however, from what we have seen so far the negatives by far outweigh the positives on this one. 

The script is clunky and the opening episode was so exposition heavy it was ridiculous.  I believe sci-fi fans to be some of the most loyal and also most intelligent viewers, and I don't think we need to be hammered over the head with Important Elements Of Plot quite so much as we were here.  Rather than integrating plot points or character detail into the interactions or visuals with subtlety, we were given scenes such as President Richard Tate making a leaden (But Clearly Very Important) speech to an incoming transporter, ending with him apparently unable to recognise the noise created by CLAPPING, a noise which they felt the need to outwardly explain to the viewers.

For anyone that has ever watched any sci-fi series before, it all seems so very familiar.  My aforementioned love of Battlestar Galactica meant that I watched Outcasts with an increasing feeling of deja vu.  Destruction of earth? Check. Band of survivors seeking to establish a new colony? Check.  A baby that may unite two warring races? Check. Gaius Baltar, sorry I mean, Julius Berger? Check.  There is nothing wrong with these ideas per se, but we have seen it all before and better.  It would have been nice to see more original ideas in Outcasts so it felt like the show had an identity of its own.  President Tate even seems to be channelling Jean Luc Picard, to the extent that my non sci-fi watching father walked in and asked if he was trying to 'be Patrick Stewart'.    

The (SPOILERS) death of Jamie Bamber's character Mitchell Hoban in episode one was clearly meant to come as a huge shock.  Unfortunately the killing of a recognisable sci fi actor early in a series is in danger of becoming a trope in itself and I wasn't remotely surprised to see him bite the dust so soon here.  It was Freema Agyeman 'starring' in similar BBC vehicle Survivors all over again.  I am all for killing characters off if it benefits the story or the other characters, but unfortunately Hoban seemed to be the only interesting character in Episode 1 and so it was a disappointment that we would not be able to watch him further. 

It pains me to be so critical of a series that I really hoped I would love.  It is a drama on BBC1 that isn't set in a police station or hospital after all and those are too few and far between.  However I always feel that many people are so prejudiced against sci-fi shows to begin with and I hate to see shows that are so stereotypical that they merely reaffirm prejudices and cause viewers to reject genuinely brilliant sci-fi such as BSG. 

I am the kind of person who perseveres with a series once I have started however and so I will probably continue to watch Outcasts.  Episode 2 was better than Episode 1 so I hope it will continue to improve.  The cast are all very talented actors, I particularly love Daniel Mays and Amy Manson and it is their characters that have so far had the most screentime and development.  If the pace is quickened, the script tightened up and some original ideas introduced Outcasts may well start to carve out an identity of its own.  Here's hoping.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 3 - Type 4 - Review

What’s the Story?
Out on one of her ‘midnight rambles’ Annie is chased home by zombie Sasha and the gang have to work out what you do with a dead body that is still very much alive...and decomposing!  The Box Tunnel 20 continue to hang over Mitchell like a ticking time bomb and the appearance of his number one fan Graham doesn’t help.  Meanwhile, Nina has some big news for George and Annie and Mitchell? They kiss!
What’s the Verdict?
In a show with vampires, werewolves and ghosts it was perhaps only a matter of time before we were introduced to another ‘supernatural’ being and a zombie seems like an excellent choice! Being Human likes to put its own stamp on common themes and ideas and so gone are the stereotypical lumbering zombies, feeding on the flesh of others.  Instead we have Sasha; drunk, aggressive, loudmouthed and exactly the kind of person I would do my utmost to avoid in life! As with last week, we are introduced to a rather unlikeable character who is humanised and fleshed out (pun most definitely intended!) throughout the episode thanks to a brilliant performance from Alexandra Roach.  Sasha’s story takes up the bulk of the episode and I feel is the first to really make good use of our new B & B location.  It allows each character more time and space to interact and the idea of them running a ‘supernatural hostel’ is something I’d quite like to see!
Annie’s initial dislike of Sasha (competition for Mitchell!) gives way to a sympathy and a strong desire to help when they discover that the zombies have been created when Mitchell crossed into purgatory to save Annie, thereby rendering The Door ‘engaged’.  This was an interesting and unexpected development that explained why we hadn’t seen zombies before but it is one of those plot points that I suspect will lose credibilty and logic the more you think about it, so perhaps needed a little more explanation.  The idea of humans experimenting on the zombies was another interesting concept that was not really explored here, introduced purely to engender sympathy with Sasha and then dropped, perhaps rightly, when it no longer impacted upon her story. 
Meanwhile, as if the undead wasn’t enough to contend with, Mitchell encountered his Number 1 fan Graham in what initally appeared to be a fun, gentle mickey take of the fan phenomenon (lets face it, we’ve all tried to think of a cool screen name like Obsidian only for it invariably to end up being a bit rubbish haven’t we? Right?!) but quickly progressed into a more sinister scenario, threatening to expose Mitchell’s biggest secret and ultimately requiring Mitchell to murder another vampire for the safety of humans.  Being Human always does secondary characters so well and again here, Graham became a sympathetic and lonely figure as he died, just wanting to be liked and remembered. 
As if all that wasn’t enough, we also had Nina’s big news, she’s pregnant.  Discovered thanks to Nina doing what all TV characters do and leaving her pregnancy test in the bin for all to find! From the moment Nina was scratched in the Series 1 finale, speculation has been rife about whether we would hear the patter of tiny were-cub feet and to be honest, I thought it was just a fun red herring unlikely to actually be explored.  I’m slightly surprised they have gone down this route so soon (a baby would definitely change the dynamic of the series) but there is a long way to go and I suspect there may be a few more developments along the way.  Nina’s pregnancy led to her revelation that her Mother abused her as a child in what was a brilliant emotional performance from Sinead Keenan.  Amidst everything else going in this episode however I think this revelation was lost somewhat and I hope we get to explore more of Nina’s (and George’s) backstory in the future. 
Being Human usually balances separate plot threads very well and I must admit in this episode I didn’t think they were balanced as naturally as they usually are.  There were a couple of tonal shifts that I found a little jarring, for example the cut from Annie being upset and hugged by Mitchell to being massaged by Graham and most notably Nina’s distress (‘It’s not enough George’) to up tempo music playing with Annie in the kitchen. 
Ultimately though, by the end the three threads had come together very well,  pushing the story forward and leaving our characters in a very different place to the beginning of the episode.  Sasha’s death was the push Nina needed to embrace the idea of becoming a mother and her message to ‘seize the day’ leads to the kiss a lot of people have been waiting for between Mitchell and Annie.  Mitchell is still keeping secrets however and does not seem as eager for a relationship as Annie, we will wait and see how that turns out!
On reflection I am aware this review might come across as overly critical (I think when you love a show so much sometimes you can’t help but criticise certain elements), so I want to reiterate how much I did enjoy this story.  Sasha was a brilliant creation, her make up was disgustingly impressive and there were some wonderful comedic moments.  The reactions of our foursome to Sasha were perfect and Annie using Pollyfilla as make up was just genius.  The acting in this episode was first rate from everybody, Aidan Turner especially showcased a range of Mitchell’s emotions, and it has left all of our characters in an interesting position for the rest of the series. 
N.B.  Just as an aside, I noticed last week after the sports reporter had finished ranting at Mitchell, his next news story was about the tragic death of scrum half Gethin Watson’s girlfriend.  I noticed this because I expected it to be one of the Box Tunnel 20, instead it was an excellent piece of foreshadowing for this weeks episode.  Very clever Being Human team and it just proves the attention to detail in this series is very impressive!
Best Scene
A tough decision this week but I will give it to the final scene between Mitchell and Annie.  Although I am still not entirely sold on their relationship, the lead up to the kiss was beautifully written and acted and now we are clearly going down the relationship route, I don’t think they could have written their first kiss any better. 
Best Lines
I thought this was a less quotable episode this week, but still with plenty of gems!
Annie: ‘Not today, thank you’ – A typical Annie response to being chased by a zombie!
Mitchell: ‘Why didn’t you just Rentaghost home?’
Sasha: ‘Hi Mitchell, I’m Sasha.  Like the Beyonce album’.
Annie: She may well be dead, but that is pretty much all I have in common with that...that...chavalanche. – I’m pretty sure that’s what Annie said, she may have invented a brilliant new word.  Speaking of which.....
Annie: Don’t be so deadist
George: Excuse me
Annie: It’s like racist, but for dead people
George: Have you just spent the whole night making up words? – Deadist is another one!
Nina: Gotta keep an eye on Priscilla over there, I’m a designated ‘woman with a pulse!’
Nina: George, would you like to have a little hairy baby with me? – All together now, awwwww!
Questions –
Still no sign of Herrick but we did hear of Cara, who is rather brilliantly described as ‘digging up trouble somewhere’.  When will that trouble find it’s way to the B & B? Too many questions about George & Nina’s baby, how does that work exactly? And as Mitchell so delicately put it, erm, how would a relationship with a ghost work too?! With a baby now in the mix do we have another contender for the ‘wolf-shaped bullet’?  Will someone find Graham’s book & discover Mitchell’s secret?
Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog for chat and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter!