Considering the Beeb’s decision to air the re-run of the first series of Being Human on BBC One, I was surprised when it transpired that the second series was to remain on its flailing yoof channel, BBC Three. Personally, I think BBC Two would prove its natural home, with shows like The Tudors proving it’s not afraid to air nudity, violence and swearing a-plenty, while also demonstrating a willingness to air strong, ambitious plotlines.
Being Human certainly isn’t a show to shy away from nudity, as the continuing display of Russell Tovey’s bottom shows all too well. From the very beginning, Being Human has demonstrated a penchant for Tovey’s arse. I don’t know if he has it written into his contract – Clause 3.12. Russell insists that there are at least three shots of his bottom, some of which should be lingering, per episode – but he certainly doesn’t shy away from flashing his backside. So much so that I briefly considered including a summary of where you can expect to see it at the end of each of these episode reviews. You’re, no doubt glad, to hear that I saw sense in the end. Still, make no mistake. Tovey’s bottom is as crucial to this show as Matthew Corbett was to Sooty, and look how bobbins that became after he retired.
Aside from Tovey’s posterior, other elements of the series remain, most notably the key cast. Considering the overhaul that beset the pilot series, I wasn’t confident that the full quota would return here, but I’m thrilled they have.
Aidan Turner has become quite the star for the Beeb since appearing in the first series, having also taken a starring role in Desperate Romantics, and he is something of a scene-stealer whenever on screen, so I was particularly happy to see him return.
Alongside the main three cast members is Sinead Keenan as Nina, George’s girlfriend. You’ll have seen Keenan in a rather thankless role in Doctor Who over the festive period – she played Cactus-like Addams – where you’ll have also seen Tovey in his reappearance as Midshipman Alonso Frame. Thankfully, Keenan is much better here, lending a bit of weight to the character of Nina, who is going to have a larger role to play in this series.
That’s because she’s a werewolf too. Not by choice, you understand. Nope, that’s because George accidentally scratched her at the end of the last series and now she has the curse also. She’s understandably a little freaked out at having to deal with seeing George kill Herrick in the final throws of series one.
Mind you, George hasn’t got too much time to help her deal with things as he’s gone off the rails in between series, his disposal of Herrick having apparently unleashed a side of him that can best be described as being a bit of a shit. Gagging for sex, aching for a fight – the opening five minutes see him getting involved with a couple of vampires out to avenge Herrick’s death – and moodier than a hormonal teenager, he’s an extremely annoying chap throughout this episode, until Nina’s revelation brings him back to reality. Not before he’s had his wicked way with lady vampire Daisy and devoured a deer or two, though.
Still, by the end of the episode he’s back to normal and here is where the episode falls down. While series openers have a lot to set up – second series openers also have former ground to cover again, too – this wants to establish George’s fall from grace and subsequent return in the one hour, meaning that we can all get back to normal from episode two onwards.
I can’t help but feel that, had the show spread Tovey’s torment out over a couple of episodes, it would have been more effective. Instead, it all feels rushed and, therefore, harder to believe. Nina, too, falls back into his arms too quickly for my liking. I get that they only really have each other to survive the world around them, but surely there would be the remains of some resentment between the two? Perhaps that will show itself in future episodes, but there was no evidence of it here.
Another downside of this episode was the treatment of Annie. Lenora Critchlow is undoubtedly adept at doing comedy, but the switch of her character from tortured, anguished ghost to comedy foil for the other two grated with me throughout this episode, I’m afraid to say.
Her primary purpose was to demonstrate how the three are attempting to get on with their lives and assimilate back in society, but her interview for a job at the local pub was cringe-worthy and, frankly, silly.
She came into her own towards the episode’s end, acting as Nina’s confidant and getting friendly with a pill-popping pub customer to whom there is clearly more than meets the eye. As in the last series, I’m awaiting the Annie episode, the one that establishes her character within the wider story arc. Until that comes, I fear she will act as little more than a minor character to the other two.
As for Mitchell, well, he too took a backseat in this opener, his personal trials revolving around his inability to get on with his life in the outside world. He has no purpose, nothing to keep him going now that the vampires have retreated. Thank goodness then for female doctor Lucy. Me spies a potential rocky romance on the horizon.
With a hurried plot for main protagonist George, an uneasy re-imagining of Annie’s role and not enough Mitchell time, this episode must have been a disappointment, right? Not a bit of it, because when it hit the heights, it soared. None more so than the outstanding moment of the episode, and what I wager will prove the stand-out sequence of the entire series.
The mysterious Professor Jaggat was first mentioned in the final seconds of the first series and his work is obviously going to play a huge part in this series. He and his men are clearly very interested in all things supernatural and one of their experiments on werewolves was shown to genuinely frightening effect just before the midway point of this episode. Presumably, the producers have managed to wrangle some extra budget from somewhere, as the horrific consequences to the subject were a treat to witness for horror fans.
Things picked up at the end of the episode too, as the flatmates’ residence was visited by the Professor’s team and then parts of the bible were spouted for full effect. Gripping stuff and a fitting way to set up episode two, which I’m sure will be a more even outing than this one proved to be.
Still, in the main this was a strong start for a series that I’m pleased the Beeb have backed once more. It remains one of the broadcaster’s very best geek shows and with a bit of luck it will attract the audience numbers it deserves.
Being Human airs on BBC Three, Sundays at 9pm.