For quite some time, the United States have shown that when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction, they rule the roost. Let’s face it, the wonders of Lost, Fringe, Chuck, Eureka plus having a history that includes Star Trek, Buck Rogers, Outer Limits and thier contemporaries shows that the US TV industry knows how to put its money where it’s mouth is.
This side of the pond, we have lived off a twee existence of science fiction programing born from the wobbling sets and man-in-a-suit monsters associated with Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 of old. Apart from the odd piece of accidental cash injections into the genre – such as the BBC’s adaptation of The Day of The Triffids – this has not been seen a serious genre for the British to throw money into. Then in 2005 the BBC brought back Doctor Who with a more proportional budget in relation to its demand and rewrote our concept of what the UK could accomplish. Remember, a lot of CGI in motion pictures is done in the UK now – especially with a weakened Sterling of late. Since then the UK has created Torchwood, Primeval, Demons, and so many others, the most recent being “Being Human”
Based on a pilot created in the mind of Toby Whithouse which aired in the Summer of 2008, Being Human is a show very much out its comfort zone. Neither a straight comedy nor a horror drama, it tells us the tale of three supernatural beings – a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost – all living in a house together in the suburbs of a City, the two living characters spending their days working in low profile jobs at the local Hospital. All three of them are only just coping on a daily basis with their individual situations and the problems it creates for them in the world of naturals around them.
The Vampire, Mitchell, and the werewolf, George, moved into the house in an attempt to forge something like a normal life only to find a tea making ghost, Annie, living there. Having chased out the previous tenants, Annie can only be seen by supernaturals such as werewolves and vampires and thus the three of them seem to forge something of a normal relationship. If only.
In this six part series there is evidence from the first episode that something on a grand scale is afoot. Their are other vampires in the City and they seem to be awaiting for some imminent event that will tip the balance between them and normal people, putting Mithell – a vampire trying to stay on the wagon – at some kind of risk. George is finding it hard to come to terms with his “curse” and Annie doesn’t seem able to resolve issues she has over the actual cause of her death, something we can currently only guess at.
The thing about this series is that something tells me it shouldn’t work. It should end up being a farcical mish-mash. But it isn’t. In fact it is well written, heart-felt and poignant in every possible way. Mitchell’s everyday exterior occasionally slips to show a sinister maturity and the animal underneath, his suffering more akin to a drug addiction making it accessible to angst ridden teens and 30 year olds alike. George’s blustering, house proud character and his inability coping with his other self is sometimes hilarious and at other times heart-rending. Annie’s character is caring and almost childlike one moment and the next appears alone and sad even in a crowded room. The secondary characters driving the plot are solid and played with deft hands. The filming is well lit and atmospheric and the visual effects – which go from recolouring eyeballs black to a complete werewolf change sequence not dissimilar to the masterful work of Rick Baker on American Werewolf in London – are wonderful. it scores on so many levels, it deserves to go on for some time.
Two episodes in and I am completely in love with everything about it. It has classic written all over it. If you are in the UK and can get to the bbc iplayer service, download it and watch it. If you are in the US, you are so going to be in for a treat.