Being Human series 5 episode 1 review: The Trinity

Review Caroline Preece 3 Feb 2013 - 23:00

A new trinity, a new villain, and a brand new series of Being Human. Here's Caroline's review of episode one...

This review contains spoilers. Read our spoiler-free review, here.

5.1 The Trinity

There’s a big shake-up in the Being Human cast this year, as we all know, and the biggest test for this fifth series premiere was always going to be proving that the current trio, Hal, Tom and Alex, could live up to the legacy left by Mitchell, George and Annie. We had a soft reboot last season, but some fans seemed far from won over, so we had to wait and see what Toby Whithouse and his writers would be able to do with an entirely new supernatural trinity living in Honolulu Heights.

Just from watching this premiere, the signs are good, but it’s also clear that this incarnation of Being Human isn’t interested in courting the same audience that tuned in for series one. Fans who complained that the show’s ideas had gotten too grand for the humble beginnings of a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost trying to live normal lives, definitely haven’t been catered to for example, as we’re going even bigger for this new series. Starting with a flashback that makes full use of Hal’s status as king of the vampires, this series will probably see his story granted more focus, as a threat from his past appears in modern day Wales.

Yes, the devil himself will be a player this year, as a botched attempt to end the civil war between werewolves and vampires in the past have led to him taking residence in a human vessel ever since. For unknown reasons, he’s been staying in the Barry Grand Hotel, which is the very establishment in which Hal and Tom find new jobs. Before that, though, we pick up exactly where we left off with Hal tied up in the living room until Alex’s blood passes out of his system. His pleas to have supervised release while he runs around with the hoover were hilarious, and brought back some of the charm of early conversations between George and Mitchell on The Real Hustle.

When they do finally untie him, his day doesn’t go exactly to plan and an innocent passerby ends up being turned into a vampire. The fact that the man’s car accident comes moments after Alex has heaped all of her frustration onto him obviously makes Hal predisposed to turning Crumb instead of leaving him to die, but it turns out it was the wrong decision. This new member of the undead is trouble, specifically, he's a David Brent-character who gets given superpowers. The 'victim who takes revenge on those who bullied him' isn’t anything new, but it really works here. There’s a real sense of danger with Crumb, and I can’t wait to see what the cleaners have in store for him.

It looks as if the government cutbacks are affecting every department, even the ones we didn’t know existed, and the cleaners are told to pack up and shove off by the end of the month. Dismayed that this means monsters will be left to run riot in the world, they try to recruit Hal as their vampire representative. This organisation seems like they have the best intentions, but I can see plenty of potential for them to step over the line this series. How far will they go to keep their role alive? I’d guess that people like them exist in every country in the world, so they only have to concern themselves with the UK – how bad would it actually get if they weren’t around to clean up the messes?

Running beside all of this, there’s plenty of development for our central characters and, by the end of the hour, Hal, Tom and Alex have solidified their place apart from the original cast. While it’s a little strange to see them swanning around the home of our other beloved characters, the amount of chemistry between them means that it’s easy to accept them in their own right. Hal and Tom still have that light and easy camaraderie, with Alex’s initial rejection of Tom’s gentlemanly ways proving to us also that she’s a capable and no-nonsense woman worlds away from how Annie was. 

So, with the initial handling of a brand new cast dynamic dealt with and a new arch-villain thrown into the mix, series five of Being Human is well underway. If they wanted to go bigger and better, then you can’t get much bigger than the devil himself, and the focus on the hotel means that the popular cafe scenes that were a highlight of series four could be expanded. There’s still a way to go before doubters are silenced but, as a premiere to a new version of the show, my guess is that few will be left outright disappointed.

Come back tomorrow for our spoiler-filled chat with the man behind Captain Hatch, Phil Davis.

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Pretty sure you can't just sack someone like that, maybe its different at the Beeb.

Loved it. I actually prefer the new characters now. The show keeps evolving and changing, which is a good sign.

It was actually better than all but three/four of the original casts episodes..seriously great start, last season did have a few "fillers" so im hoping it can keep up the pace

I *really* liked it. Constantly re-inventing itself and not staying put. Remind you of another British fantasy show..? I far a prefer a show that changes and goes with the flow then one that plods on the same tread even when all the ideas are finished.

I'm glad you mentioned the Stephen King influence in your Phil Davis interview. You could have possibly added William Peter Blatty too. I glad it wasn't just me.

At the risk of sounding like purist, Series 1 will always be the best, standout group of episodes for me. I watched last night's episode and, if I'd not seen the other series, not known about Mitchell, George and Annie, I'd have thought it was an excellent and unusually good supernatural comedy-drama. It was a massive improvement over Series 4, which verged on the ridiculous towards the end. The problem with things like this is, the magic of the original series was the three characters dealing with *ordinary* life - George finding a girlfriend, Mitchell being mistaken a for pedophile, a disembodied dead girl grappling with being dead and making tea, that was the core that made the whole thing work. Herrick was by far the best villain of the series, little more than a pompous local gang leader outside his own megalomania, and that was they key to it - once you get into divine babies, "Old Ones", warehouse explosions, inter-species war (I wish they'd leave that alone, the casual vampire-werewolf racism of the early episodes was far more effective) and all the other tired old tropes of the genre, the Series really looses that spark that made it stand out. I still enjoy Being Human, even with the new cast, but the familiarity of three strange twenty-somethings sharing a house in Bristol is, sadly, long gone.

I have to agree with everything you say but I'm under a gagging order to never mention any of the previous series again... although I can mention the war.

I really enjoyed this one. I've personally found Being Human to be, generally, consistent in quality from the start. Sure, there was the odd dud, but very few programmes can say they've had a killer episode every week. Even the best ones. But, it's been in a state of change for a year or so and it's great to see a new cast settle into their roles with the show in a very different shape to what it was before. For new viewers, there might not be much to love, but as a long-time fan, the evolution is something wonderful. If I can put Vampires of Venice out of my mind, I might be inclined to say that Whithouse should follow Moffat into the Big Seat on DW.

I forget which thread I read this on, but I'm sure there is a phone number which is visible at some point (and which is relevant to Rook and his organisation, although I'm not sure if it's the number he gives Hal) which actually is a real number which (I'm guessing, don't know the details) relays a presumably pre-recorded message if rung. I might have dreamed it (I do that). I might check it out though (I do that too).

I think you're thinking of Utopia!

I must be in the minority as I was happy to see the new characters come in last season and was very happy to see the potential I felt after the finale, doesn't seem to have been lost. They still have a whole season to prove it can last but if last night's episode was anything to go by then the chemistry and banter will be great. The plot's are just something to hang their hat on. It's how the character's interact that keep me coming back to the show.

As others have mentioned, if they can pull off this transition, who's to say they can't continue to do so for future series when the time comes.

Good point! I've only just started watching it on 4od, I did in fact look at some of the threads on it the other day, cheers!

I saw that dude being the devil a mile off, since he was the only supporting actor I recognised. It's like watching a murder mystery and knowing whodunnit for the same reason.

ditto to almost everything, I am looking for to Phil Davies getting some good lines, I've loved him in pretty much everything he has ever done.

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