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Taking a break from Spooks to watch Being Human series 1. I fully intended to post some brief Spooks episode reviews, but so far everything I've has been the opposite of brief (and also, finished). While all that was in progress, I came across a description of Being Human and though that the concept was screaming for a Spooks crossover where Lucas North moves into the flat while he's relearning what it is to be human. Also, the interlibrary loan system was astoundingly efficient and somehow bumped me to the top of the waiting list.

There are more flimsy excuses, but at this moment I'm hard pressed to think of one.

Right now, I'm up to 1x03 and really liking this show. The central concept is that a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost share an apartment (er, flat) and try to live like normal human beings. It's definitely a high concept premise, the kind of thing I suspect immediately either appeals to viewers who understand the potential for metaphor and allusion to explore what it means to be human, or immediately is dismissed as an excuse for genre cliches. This kind of show could have been gone either way. I think they're doing well with the concept so far.

To avoid the pitfalls, the writers/producers were smart enough to discard some of the more cheestastic genre tropes, e.g. the series vampires seem to do just fine in sunlight and don't explode into dust or turn into bats. Instead, the supernatural elements are mostly dealt with as metaphor or exaggeration for more universal human failings -- addiction, immaturity, unhealthy relationships, and violent urges, to name a few. Admittedly, the metaphors are not very thinly veiled at some points. By episode 3, I didn't really need the vampires-as-addicts comparison hammered home yet again.

Overall, though, I like the writing quite a bit. The writers do a good job of mixing up the long-term supernatural plotlines with well-written roommate (er, flatmate) interaction. To be honest, I'd have to say the show so far is more about the friendship between three wacky roommates with their own respective personal crises, with the vampire/werewolf/ghost aspects as an added dimension. Each of the characters strikes a nice balance between admirable and annoying so as to feel three dimensional. For example, George, the werewolf, is an anal, annoyingly self-centered, somewhat controlling know it all, but also a very decent guy who cares about doing the right thing, even when his life is in tatters. The roommates background provides some nice comedic and dramatic moments -- great scene in 1x03, for example, when Annie the ghost sobs over a parsley grater as a proxy for greater (ha ha!) losses, George the werewolf is kind of clueless, and Mitchell the vampire tries to bring some order to the craziness. The scene could have worked with any spurned lover coming to pieces over a dead relationship and two roommates attempting to reassure. That Annie is actually dead adds a certain extra layer of poignancy. Not hugely subtle, but still moving.

The end of episode 3 marks the halfway point in the arc. I think the writing to this point has been strong enough to foreshadow that underneath it all, this series is really about the struggle against personal demons leading to transformation and empowerment, as well as the idea that it's the people around us who really make us (or keep us) human. Each of the first three episodes shows one of the main characters dealing with a kindred spirit guest character who shares the same supernatural condition, through which each character comes to a big revelation about him/herself which is ultimately empowering (well, mostly). My guess is that the last three episodes will deal with the threat of Herrick and pretty much every other vampire in the world, most likely requiring Annie, George and Mitchell to band together to deal with them.

I like all three of the leads pretty well. I see now why Russell Tovey generates so much buzz. He's great as George. The fact that he's the least likely looking werewolf ever adds an interesting dimension to the gigantic rift between his geeky human self and the wild animal who causes him so much self-loathing. I alternate between wanting to yell at him to remove his head from his backside and appreciating his essentially decency. Aidan Turner, as Mitchell, seems to struggle a bit more with differentiating his character from the vampire cliches. He's really not helped by his gothy vampiric ex who might as well have junkie jailbait written on her forehead. Lenora Crichlow is decent as Annie. I don't find her performance to be on the same level as Tovey's and Turner's, though this might be due to a script which gives her a few too many overtly emotional scenes for her character to appear anything but a wobbly-chinned people-pleaser. Because maybe that's the point?

Overall, I think the show is very well done. I'll definitely finish watching series 1 before I go back to Spooks.

Date: 2012-02-20 04:05 am (UTC)
ext_2351: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lunabee34.livejournal.com
You have totally convinced me to watch this show!

Date: 2012-02-21 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oceloty.livejournal.com
Whoa! I think the last time I convinced anyone of anything was six months ago when I got someone to try a new flavor of ice cream.

It's quite funny and the actors have good friendship chemistry, so I think you'll enjoy it. I finished the first season, and the second half definitely does not disappoint. Hopefully, the second season will be as good, though it will take a while to get hold of it.

Date: 2012-02-22 03:09 am (UTC)
ext_2351: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lunabee34.livejournal.com
Heeeeeee! Well you've convinced me. It might take me a while to get to it, but it definitely goes on the list. :)

Date: 2012-02-20 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] belantana.livejournal.com
Fabulous review! I think you just put into words every single unexplainable reason why I love this show. I especially love (not quite sure why) how everyone who becomes a vampire suddenly has the urge to wear black and red and swish about dramatically and talk in ridiculous flowery language. The end half of series 1 is the best ever - can't wait til you get there!

(I think you have Nina and Annie confused...!)
Edited Date: 2012-02-20 11:33 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-21 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oceloty.livejournal.com
Thanks! I totally got the names mixed up.

I like Nina (the nurse not ghost) a lot too, especially after 1x04. But she's definitely not a ghost!

The melodramatic vampires are a little much. I forgot which one of the episodes had a very funny line to that effect. I also can't explain Mitchell's affection for fingerless gloves. Is that supposed to make it harder for him to bite someone?

I finished the rest of series 1, and it was as good as advertised. Hopefully, more thoughts soon.

Edited to add: I saw that you have something posted on series 4, but I'm going to wait to read that til I won't be spoiled.
Edited Date: 2012-02-21 02:09 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-02-25 08:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] belantana.livejournal.com
There's a line somewhere "well congratulations you've mastered the speaking-like-a-twat thing" which had me giggling... Also someone once made a photoshop of a particularly melodramatic series 2 vampire saying "I was in Baghdad", can't find it now of course. Are you up to series 2 yet? It has a couple of weird storylines but is mostly excellent. (Oh, do you remember the episode of Spooks with the evil corporate communist guy trying to get his minions to gamble on the stock market and ruin the economy or some shit, and he goes, WHERE ARE ALLLLL YOUR BALLLLLLLS, and I laughed forever? And then Ros kicked his arse I think, I can't remember, it might have been in series 7. ANYWAY. He is the new series 2 melodramatic vampire.)

I think Mitchell's gloves are something to do with him always being cold? And hating sunlight?

You are right not to read spoilers! I'll make sure to be unspoilery in my cut-texts - if I ever get time to catch up on series 4 let alone post about it...

Date: 2012-02-27 05:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oceloty.livejournal.com
That was the line I had in mind! I've started S2 and will post about that eventually.

I will also post about Spooks S7 and yes, the WHERE ARE YOUR BALLS guy is totally in Being Human S2. I also noticed appearances from Ben Kaplan and one of the Spooks S9 terrorists from a made up eastern European country.

Sure, Mitchell's fingerless gloves may keep those vampiric fingers warm, but you know what else does? Gloves with fingers! (I don't know why I find them so weird.) Also, for a vampire, he spends a lot of time in direct sunlight. He's even worse than Angel from Buffy and Angel the series.

I will try to stay strong about spoilers. Except for casting stuff, this thread doesn't really give any specifics, so I won't put a warning. Plus, it's not like there are a lot of people reading this anyway (just the important ones...).


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