Warning: this review contains spoilers.
3.2 Adam’s Family
“George… you’re chit-chatting… with a gimp.”
One of the most frequent accusations thrown at Being Human, certainly on the Den Of Geek comments, in any case, is that positioning Russell Tovey as a figure of fun has proven less effective as the show has developed.
In truth, Being Human has always handled comedy and drama rather well, and it is fair to say that responsibility for the bulk of the laughs lands in Tovey’s lap. George’s meek, uncomfortable persona lends itself to being made fun of, and it seems that this time round, the writers have made a clear decision to venture down the road of smiles and see what it comes up with.
In this second episode, more than any I can remember, Being Human played out as a comedy more than a work of drama. Dark comedy, that’s for sure, but comedy nonetheless, and the writers, actors and entire production team pulled it off with assured confidence.
Last week’s dogging interlude hinted at the weird and wonderful places the show was prepared to go this year to deliver laughs of a distinctly different variety. But I had no idea, as I watched mouth agog, that this week’s storyline was going to go where it eventually ended up.
In fact, I’m betting not one person watching did. For the sight of a gimp holed up in a darkened basement, ready and, importantly, willing to give himself up so that others might live, and have a little debauched fun at the same time, left me stunned, bemused, amused and jealous at the same time. Jealous, not of the practice, you understand, but of the confidence the writers are exhibiting in this series already.
The very idea of a typical, middle-class suburban couple, who to the outside world look perfectly normal with a well-to-do upbringing, actually revealing themselves as vampires with a sinister sideline in kinky sex parties and gimp hirings and bitings led to the realisation, for the first time, of why Being Human is on BBC Three. Risks can be taken and the slimy, underbelly of society can be studied in all its grimy glory.
As country house owner Richard points out, “The depravity of the human heart knows no bounds. Name your blackest desires and somewhere, out in the sweating mass of humanity, you’ll find someone all too happy to gratify them.”
His disdain for the human race was clear to see, but gimp number 7 wasn’t perturbed one bit. Happy to do his job. Happy to please his masters. The clear inference of the human race acting as little more than the vampire hoards’ feeding ground was well handled here, but the humour of the situation, of the insanity of the country house setup, was the masterstroke of all this.
Mitchell, George, Annie and Nina might think fitting in with the human world is tough, but Richard and Emma have embraced their lot, finding a less brutal way of surviving in this world, while casting aspersions on the likes of Mitchell’s wanten bloodlust. It might be a sick, strange way of living, but it’s a better way of going about their business than the Box Tunnel 20 Massacre.
Speaking of which, Mitchell’s anguish about that little blip isn’t going to go away any time soon. With Lia’s warning still ringing in his head – he will be killed by a wolf, says she – he was met by Richard to offer him a passage out of town.
The Old Ones, the Vampire Elite, want him to do a runner to South America, to let things die down. Of course, it’s a one-way ticket offer and ‘the last Russell Brand in the shop’ didn’t particularly want to play ball. He had other things on his mind.
Well, one thing, actually. Annie.
How do you solve a problem like Annie? Relegated to a bunch of weak storylines last season, I fear more of the same this year. Sure, she will get the odd powerhouse of an episode, and I’m sure that somewhere down the line, the issue of whether she should stay or go will again rear its head. But in the main, Annie will be handed the supporting character role.
It’s a role that undersells Lenora Critchlow’s undoubted acting chops, of course, but the fact is that vampires and werewolves are more interesting than ghosts, and the underlying story of packs of wolves and clans of vampires occupying mainline Britain is fundamentally strong enough to carry the series forward.
Annie’s ghostly realm and purgatory have been covered. We get how that all works now. So, it seems that she will play the supporting act for the most part. Shame.
It will also be interesting to see how the writers handle the burgeoning romance between her and Mitchell. I’m not surprised the show has gone down that road. The suggestion of attraction between the pair has always been there, but if it gets it wrong, the series could collapse under the strain of stolen kisses and awkward silences.
We had romances throughout series 2, of course, and it wasn’t a problem, but we now have an established pair in Nina and George and I’m not yet convinced that the show needs a second love story. I’m happy to give it a chance, though.
No furry activity for the aforementioned lovers this week, as they were too busy dealing with the episode’s titular protagonist, Adam. In another powerful plot (the writers have a knack of weaving several strong stories together, each one standing up on its own merit), we had a chance to meet young (well, not quite) Adam, whose own parents supported his cravings. Until they died, that is.
Taking him under their wing, it gave plenty of opportunity for moping (Mitchell), sarcasm (George), tenderness (Nina) and perving (Annie). Playing on his permanently teenage state, Adam’s humour was puerile, but entertaining, and with a few corking one-liners and the odd bit of emotional drama (“You want to know how I’m feeling, George? Hungry.”), the boy did good.
If there are aspects of this week’s show that I’ve barely touched upon (Mitchell’s job interview – wonderful), it’s testament to how much it packed in.
Last week’s opener was a tough act to follow, but by bringing us into the weird world of a couple of middle-class vampires out in the country, Adam’s Family exceeded all expectations.
Read our review of the series opener, Lia, here.
Follow Den Of Geek on Twitter right here.