Last Sunday, if you weren’t outside wading through vast drifts of snow, complaining about the cold and trying not to fall down, you may have been indoors grumbling at a screen, watching a man look at a picture of the moon and transforming into half a wolf. That’s right, a picture of the moon. ‘Since when can that happen?’ You probably roared as you dunked yet another hobknob into your Ovaltine and crammed it into your face, ‘What’s going on?’
What’s going on? That’s a question that a lot of people seemed to have been asking themselves, after season four of Being Human arrived with a divisive opening episode that left questions and tears and waved goodbye to lupine stalwart and king of weird screaming, George.
Episode two was an attempted return to normalcy after the bombast, confusion and corny exits of last week, but the new series’ uncertainty only continued after an hour of boredom and bollocks that saw the programme stumble in its attempt to re-establish the shows premise without contrivance. Being Human has always suffered whenever Toby Whithouse isn’t on script duty and this week it was more apparent than ever. Gone were the good jokes that kept the fun in last week’s episode; and with new characters played by actors who seemed to have stumbled off the set of Doctors, proceedings dragged. It was all one rather obvious set up to get Hal into the house and felt rushed, almost an afterthought, as if someone in the writer’s lab had realised that they’d wasted so much time last week on dispatching George and setting up another prophesy storyline, that they had to waste a whole episode shoe-horning poor Hal in. How Damien Molony must envy Michael Socha who was afforded the luxury of being eased in quietly and subtly midway through season three, and who now feels like a plausible part of the show.
Still, it is important to remember that Being Human is in a period of transition and that it remains, in many ways, an excellent programme. The team have had something of a juggling act to perform, tying up loose ends and introducing new ones whilst stringing together a semblance of new plot that still challenges. Now that it’s finally got its affairs in order, there are a few things we’d like to see if we’re going to keep watching…
Spectral Annie – Lenora Critchlow is a talented comic actress and is crying out for a meatier storyline. She has been described as the heart of the show, and, judging from the complimentary way she is written, it’s clear that she’s a favourite of the writers. It’s time for her to stand up and be counted, for the team to trust her more. No more promises about her power, we need to see it.
New Blood – The decision to introduce a new vampire and werewolf as replacement characters was a little obvious, but Tom and Hal possess a charisma, presence and personality that should make for interesting viewing. Cutler and Fergus also show promise but need more dimension and screen time. A poor man’s David Thewlis and Herrick the second do not a good show make, but maybe between them they can grow and give Being Human a new edge.
Half Baked Explanations – This series really needs to see the end of the programme’s tradition of introducing interesting characters, writing them out with barely a word and/or killing them off screen with poor, scant explanations: Daisy, Ivan, Mcnair, Vincent, Wyndham and Griffin have all been given the boot too soon or off-camera, this was even done to major character Nina who heads up a long list that smacks of lazy writing. The viewer is not stupid. It would also be nice if Being Human stuck to its own mythology – since when is werewolf blood vampire poison?
Out With the Old and in with the New – After such efforts to rid itself of the past, has Being Human changed enough? Already we have a vampire stuggling to be good and Annie terminally occupied with lightening the load or moaning. Tom at least seems comfortable with who he is and is not as burdened with relationship trials as George. The Being Human universe is a rich one that is ready to be explored. We can only hope that we don’t suffer from the same disease that now makes Shameless unwatchable – where too many less likeable characters are given too much air time, trundling out the same tired old tropes whilst the quality plummets.
Being Human might have used up a few of its lives but it’s the viewers that matter. More guts, more gore, more laughs; what will it take to make you stick with it?