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, 31 January 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 2 - Adam's Family - Review

What’s the Story?
In the second episode of the series we are introduced to teenage vampire Adam and themes that vary from unconditional love to sexual perversion! George and Nina take it upon themselves to act as surrogate parents to Adam, becoming embroiled in the vampire underworld once again.  Meanwhile, Annie becomes Mitchell’s self appointed guardian angel and helps him get a job, all the while unaware of Mitchell’s inner turmoil following last weeks prophecy. 
What’s the Verdict?
The series arc takes a back seat this week and instead we have our first stand-alone episode of the series.  After last weeks barnstorming opener I think this second episode was always going to feel calmer and while it’s true that the WOW factor wasn’t as present this week, it is only when sitting down to write this review that I realised just how much the episode managed to cram in. The first twenty minutes of this episode was almost purely played for laughs until of course, as is typical of Being Human, the emotional punch came.
The opening scene provided a surprise, showing as it did the lengths a parent would go for their child. Craig Roberts made a huge impression as vampire Adam, 46 years old but with the body, manners and sense of humour of a particularly puerile teenager.  I have to admit, I was finding Adam quite unlikeable and knowing he was the feature of web spin off ‘Becoming Human’ I was worried.  I should have had more faith of course, because the scene where Adam witnessed his father dying stripped back all of the characters bravado and I immediately began to empathise with him and how he had lost everyone in his life. 
The introduction of Adam allowed George and Nina more scene-stealing opportunities as they were introduced to vampire duo Richard and Emma Hargreaves and their somewhat unconventional methods of containing their blood lust.  I want to take this opportunity to say how refreshing it is to see a nurse on television who actually really cares about the welfare of her patients . Ok, so I know that this week she was running around corridors like it was an episode of Doctor Who and at one stage abandoned the hospital altogether, but ultimately Nina does seem like a consummate professional and her caring and protective nature is really coming to the fore this series.  I thought George and Nina’s reactions to Richard and Emma’s macabre world were perfect and it’s amazing how affronted racism makes me, even when it’s vampires against werewolves (getting them to sit on newspapers was cruel but I have to say it was a nice detail and further evidence of just how well thought out this world is).  It was touching that George and Nina were genuinely prepared to take on Adam as their surrogate son and the determination they showed in rescuing him. 
Meanwhile, Annie had appointed herself Mitchell’s guardian angel and decided her first task was to help him find a job.  Annie seems a little in denial about how much her time in purgatory has affected her, she is attempting to carry on as normal but seems more insecure and is clinging to Mitchell, who is himself trying to deny his feelings for Annie.  Some of the dialogue between these two this week was wonderfully sparky and creative, the interview and reference scenes were hilarious and it was nice to see our brooding vamp get to flex his comedy muscles a bit more.  
 After I posted last weeks review I remembered lots of things I hadn’t written about, the biggest of course being Mitchell and Annie as a couple.  At first I wondered how on earth I could have forgotten about that, but on reflection I think it may have subconsciously been because I hadn’t quite made my mind up about them yet.  After this week I have to admit I am still sitting firmly on the fence with this one.  I love Annie, I love Mitchell and I do like the idea of them being together, I do recognise that they have great chemistry and that there has always been something between them.  They clearly have feelings for each other and possibly even love each other,  they bring out the best in each other and as this weeks sweet scene by the beach showed, they in many ways need each other.  However, this show started out as a flatsharing comedy drama between three friends, my concern is for the direction of the show if it becomes about two couples.  We all know that this is a drama and couples can rarely remain happy for long, otherwise it just isn’t as interesting any more.  We have witnessed George and Nina meet, fall for each other and go through just about the biggest trauma a couple could endure together but now, though I’m sure they’ll still have plenty of trials and tribulations, they feel like a solid partnership.  With Mitchell and Annie, however good I think they could be together, I can never shake the feeling of impending doom.  You just know that Mitchell can never be truly happy and I’m not sure I can handle the relationship angst and the heartbreak along the way! If anyone can make this relationship work though it is Toby Whithouse and the Being Human crew and I do look forward to seeing how the relationship progresses whilst hoping that Annies heart can remain unbroken!  
To summarise then, this was a solid (if a little strange!) stand-alone episode of Being Human packed full of comedy, quips and craziness whilst managing to balance a story of unconditional love, loss and family at its heart.  George and Nina continue to be a revelation with question marks still hanging over the relationship of Mitchell and Annie, much as it pains me to say it. 
As the series progresses I hope we shall see a bit more of the awesome foursome interacting together and coping with the mundanities of life.  As entertaining as it was to see George and Nina take on a horde of kinky vampires, it wasn’t exactly a representation of everyday human existence!  With George and Nina forming such a formidable double act, the friendship of George and Mitchell hasn’t had much airtime yet.  These are not necessarily criticisms, more observations on the series so far and things I hope will be explored more in future episodes.
Best scene
A very tough one this week, Mitchell’s interview was wonderfully scripted, acted and was laugh out loud funny but I think I have to give it to George and Nina’s rescue of Adam.  I do love a bit of continuity and this was a lovely bit of continuity here, with George bursting to the rescue, being simulatenously heroic and ridiculous but with a plant instead of a chair this time.  George bless him still doesn’t seem to have gotten rid of the whole ‘gay ninja’ vibe but put it this way, I really don’t think I’d want to mess with Nina, especially not when there’s blunt household implements lying around!
Best Lines
Annie : That reminds me I have to iron your free paper.
Mitchell: Why?
Annie: I’m not quite sure but I saw it on House of Eliot.  – For anyone that has seen House of Eliot!
Mitchell: I saw that Jeff Goldblum film ‘The Fly’ last night, left me completely paranoid.  It’s all in the delivery!
Mitchell: Oh God
Annie: Don’t say god she might be religious!
Mitchell: SHIT
Annie: God was better.
Richard Hargreaves:  ’So this is what all the fuss is about.  I expected some demon and what do I find? The last Russell Brand in the shop.’ 
Annie : I do not like a bit of fang! Not his fang...or anyone elses.  You know I'm not ruling it out, if the right fang came along but I haven’t even thought about all....for ages. 
Nina : ‘’re chitchatting...with a gimp.’
George: WHO WANTS SOME OF MY PLANT’ – A wonderful callback to Series 1! 
Richard: I bet you didnt even wipe your feet!
George: No, but we’ll wipe them on the way out’
Nina:  If I wasn’t holding this I would totally high five you’ – Nina really was on brilliant form this episode!
Emma Hargreaves: Adam for gods sake drink the man’s  blood and have sex with me on the  billiard table, you’re embarrassing us!

Questions:  Richard dropped a little hint to George and Nina about Mitchell’s massacre, when will they find out and what will happen when they do?  Will we see Richard again or was his parting shot just an empty threat? Mitchell has started hearing voices through the TV like Saul, is it really happening or is it a vision in his head? Whose bloody hand appeared in the final shot?  When will we see McNair and Tom again? Oh and when will we see the return of Herrick, resurrected at the end of Series 2?

Leave a comment below withn your thoughts on the episode and tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3, check out the Being Human blog for chat and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 1 : 'Lia' - Review

My love of this show is one of the things that has inspired me to create this blog so it is only right that it should be the subject of my first proper post.

What's the story?

The show that singlehandedly justifies the existence of BBC Three is back and possibly better than ever before. After the heartbreaking Series Two finale saw Annie dragged to purgatory, this series opener centres on Mitchell's quest to bring her back where she belongs. Crossing over into purgatory himself, he is guided by the mysterious Lia, where he must confront his own past. Meanwhile, George and Nina prepare for their first transformation in their new home of Barry Island and we are introduced to new father and son werewolves McNair and Tom and the macabre practice of werewolf cage fighting!

What's the Verdict?

Wow, Being Human is back with a bang! After criticisms that Series 2 was a bit too dark, pre-publicity promised us that Series 3 would restore the balance of horror and humour. On the evidence of opening episode, 'Lia', the show has done just that, balancing the terrifying and tragic with the genuinely funny, in a way many shows attempt but few achieve. The opening scene showed expertly how to switch between the two tones, from their assurances that the house was not haunted, to George's Sybil Fawlty impression to Mitchell's despair when Annie made her first appearance of the episode. From that point on I knew the episode wasn't going to disappoint.

In previous series, much of the light relief has been down to Annie but with the character absent for the majority of the episode George and Nina ably took on the mantle, hopefully evidence that each character will be given their share of tragedy and humour this series. Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan work so well together and I am delighted Keenan has finally been promoted to series regular. Frankly, after watching the hilarious 'seduction' scene and the madcap prison break, how could anyone not love them?!

We were also introduced to two very different werewolves in the form of McNair (Robson Green) and son Tom (Michael Socha - brother of Misfits actress Lauren, possibly the most uncannily alike brother and sister duo I have ever seen!). It's always difficult to introduce new characters into an already established show but these two look to be an interesting new addition. Robson Green proved any doubters wrong with a solid performance as hardman McNair and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this pairing. I assume we won't be seeing any more of Paul Kaye as the deliberately over the top ringleader of the cagefighting group, Vincent. This world was wonderfully realised, from the spectators in suits and bow ties to the scantily glad girls counting down to full moon. It was nice to see a very different band of vampires to the suave, brooding vamps like Ivan and Mitchell and it was a surprise to see Vincent literally bite the dust so soon. This served as a definite statement of intent from McNair and Tom though and leaves us to worry about what will happen if/when they meet Mitchell.

Speaking of everyones favourite wearer of fingerless gloves, Mitchell's story in purgatory was wonderfully written. Lacey Turner was a million miles away from her Eastenders alter ego and really excelled as the flirtatious, sarcastic and enigmatic Lia. Turner had a wealth of brilliant lines and delivered them perfectly, really coming into her own during the train carriage confrontation with Mitchell. Being Human never lets us forget that our hero's can sometimes be anything but heroic and Mitchell's despair here was heartbreaking but necessary after his massacre in Series 2. It looks like the 'Box Tunnel 20' will be playing a major role in the series and I'm glad that it hasn't been forgotten.

The return of Annie could easily have been dragged out for a few episodes, if not the whole series, but Being Human has never been a show to drag it's feet and personally I found it a relief to see Annie back making tea by the end of the episode. Her monologue could in lesser hands have been cheesy and cringeworthy, but such is the depth of the writing and performances in this show that it became beautifully poetic. I defy anyone not to have a smile on their faces, watching our 'awesome foursome' having fun together again (and I particularly loved Annie's unimpressed expression upon seeing the mural!). Watching those scenes you can't help wishing they could remain that way forever, but of course as Annie says, outside the monsters are prowling and the presence of Lia's funeral grounded the scenes in the reality that things will never be quite normal for our gang.

Overall then, a brilliant opening episode that has hopefully set the standard for what is to come. Lia's revelation has added a sense of jeopardy and mystery to the show and I'm certainly left hoping that all is not as it seems! Welcome back Being Human!

Best Scene -

So many to choose from in this episode, Russell Tovey crying remains one of the most heartbreaking sights on television, the guest stars continue to make a massive impression even in small roles (hello and goodbye Sean Hancock) and Sinead Keenan's wonderful facial expressions while fending off the transformation made a desperate and terrifying situation laugh out loud funny.

But despite the many contenders, Mitchell coming face to face with his victims in the tunnel surpassed them all. The unflinching nature of the dialogue, Aidan Turner's remorseful Mitchell and Lacey Turner's powerful performance and final revelation may well make this one of the scenes of the series.

Best Lines -

'It's you, me and Count Dupree upstairs' - Nina to George, getting her own back for last series 'Inch High Private Eye' line!

'You chose the door. Next time pick one where you're building an orphanage on the other side' - My pick of Lia's many wonderfully sarcastic lines!

'What are you doing? Why have you got a chicken on a string?' - George to newcomer Tom.

'No this isn't anything to do with ...what was going on....' - Bob (Torchwoods' Kai Owen) when a police officer opens the cell door to find George howling on all fours.

'The time and cause of your death have already been set, but there are things that need to happen first. You see, you're the final piece in someone else's story. They need to complete their journey and in order to do that they have to kill you. You're gonna be killed by a werewolf. A wolf shaped bullet. Bang.' - Lia to Mitchell. Insert own DUN DUN DUH noise here.

Annie : 'Where are we? This isn't Bristol.'
Mitchell: 'No thats the other thing, we sort of moved to Wales'.
Annie: 'Oh I wanna go back.'
Mitchell: 'To Bristol?'
Annie: 'No to purgatory.'  - Just genius.

'In this little enclave of the lost, I witnessed the very best of being human.' - Indeed Annie, indeed.

'Stake and chips anyone?' - Vincent's emotional final words.
Questions -

Oh, so many questions! Most importantly though, is Lia a liar? Or will a werewolf really kill Mitchell? When she says they are playing a long game, how long exactly have they been playing it? Did 'the other side' only want Annie last series to lure in Mitchell? Why does Lia seem to be pushing Annie and Mitchell together? Do Nina and George have the same 'spidey-sense' for each other as McNair and Tom? And finally, do I hear the howling of little werecubs or is it just a fun red herring?

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

So, here we are then...

... a blog. 

Something I resisted when it became almost 'cool' but I'm relenting now, if only to attempt to keep my mind working now I've graduated and joined the unemployed masses.  This blog will most likely consist of general ramblings on the subjects of television and theatre, I've no idea if anyone will read or even if I'll keep it updated, but if there is anyone reading, drop me a line because I'd love to hear from you!

Off we go then...