Our Rating: 2 out of 5
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
What if a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost shared a flat? This is the general premise of BBC's popular series, Being Human.
One minute she was happy and engaged and the next... she was dead. Such is the fate of Annie (Lenora Crichlow), a ghost haunting a small house currently occupied by two unlikely friends. The emotional and complicated George (Russell Tovey) is dealing with his new life as a werewolf after being attacked by one on a camping trip, and the evasive and cold Mitchell (Aidan Turner) is attempting to conceal the fact that he is responsible for one of the girls at the hospital vanishing without a trace. Few people know he's a vampire -- a recovering vampire trying not to over-indulge in blood. But their lives are all about to become complicated when Lauren (Annabel Scholey), the young woman he last "killed" turns up wanting payback, George becomes interested in one of the nurses, Nina (Sinead Keenan), and Annie becomes desperate to reconnect with her fiancé and attempt to discover why she is still "here."
Their attempts to appear human and blend in with the community seem to be going well, but inevitably a conflict will arise between the coven of vampires in the area and their diabolical plans for domination, which threatens our trio's contented existence and forces them to choose a side. The premise for this series is very clever and original and it has a lot of terrific moments to it. What works best is a great cast given some marvelous material to work with -- the series has much more heart and soul in its main characters than one would expect given the premise, and in many ways George is the moral center in spite of his flaws (he can be a bit... well, weepy); yet in the second half it is Annie who truly propels the season forward. Revelations about her death and the consequences are particularly gripping and horrific, playing out against the antics of her roomies and dealing with some very serious issues on the side. Having said that, I wish the show were more easily recommendable but it's not, tainted with some serious content issues.
The popularity of this saga caught on across the pond and arrived here in ripples, generating such interest that the SyFy Channel intends a reboot of the series -- presumably because they cannot show the series on basic cable due to its excessive profanity, harsh abuse of deity, and explicit sexual content and nudity. The second half of the six-episode season is much cleaner but for the first three episodes I almost considered not continuing, since I found the content hard to justify sitting through. Our introduction to Mitchell is him having sex with Laura while he drinks her blood; in a later episode, the two do it again in a hotel room (each has movement, heavy breathing, and blood). George starts making out with Nina but becomes nervous that he might hurt her; he explains it away as a "problem" that she later confronts in giving him a talk about sexual functions; they wind up having fairly graphic (clothed) sex -- doggy style. Mitchell is sent a vampire porno home video that features backside nudity, movement, moaning, and a man falling over dead -- vampires cannot be seen on camera, so he appears to be doing all of this without a partner. We see the entire disk once, and portions of it several other times. When a young boy from the neighborhood finds and watches it, his mother accuses Mitchell and George of being pedophiles. Conversation revolves around intimacy, and other encounters are implied.
The first three episodes feature a lot of nudity from George -- backside, from the side, even from the front with his hand covering his crotch. We see women getting dressed a couple of times (no nudity). Jesus' name is routinely abused a couple of dozen times, along with an equal number of f-words. Other profanities are mild and infrequent. Violence includes several brutal deaths -- a woman falls down the stairs and breaks her neck; flashbacks show George being ganged up on and nearly beaten to death; we see that a werewolf has torn open a man, and his bloodied corpse is briefly shown; vampires are staked in the heart and spout blood everywhere; an angry Annie sends people careening across the room and slamming into walls as she develops poltergeist tendencies. Faith is dismissed candidly several times with statements about vampires being much older than religion, but the series does have a reverent moment with a priest who helps George ward off advancing vampires. He seems a tad arrogant at first, but we grow to like him. Much of the plot revolves around ghosts and crossing over, which Annie chooses not to do.
What there is to like about the series -- its spunk, its memorable characters, and its courage in dealing with some serious issues like domestic abuse and regret -- is unfortunately in my opinion overshadowed by its profane content. I doubt the new series can live up to this one in terms of chemistry between its three leads (who really are terrific together) but one can hope that it will at least tone down the content enough to make it an enjoyable romp in a supernatural world.