July 27, 2009

Psychotic Review: "Being Human"


"Being Human" on BBC America, Saturdays at 9 pm
I love the supernatural. I find it fascinating, which is very clear by our DVR schedule - - "True Blood", "Supernatural" to name but two - - and our DVD collection, including "Twilight", "Time After Time" and seasons of "Smallville". So when I read a positive review in People of a BBC showing premiering this weekend in which the reviewer likened it to a supernatural sort of "Friends", I decided that I should check it out.

"Being Human" is most definitely a different type of show. And maybe not for everyone. It's about roommates Mitchell, George and Annie. Here's the kicker though. Mitchell is a vampire, George is a werewolf and Annie is a ghost.

Annie, while living in the British flat with her fiancee, fell down the steps, died and can't seem to leave the residence. George, while on holiday in Scotland, went for a late night stroll and barely survived an attack by a werewolf, while his companion was mauled to death. Mitchell was a British soldier during World War I who stumbled onto a nest of vampire soldiers feeding on a kill and sacrificed himself in order to keep his men safe. George and Mitchell met, decided to become flatmates while both working in the same hospital and trying to keep each other from killing both random strangers and friends. Having Annie permanently in residence is an added bonus, especially for Annie who has managed to scare the last few tenants away, although she does have an unnerving habit of always making tea (and being unable to drink it). Oh, and Annie's former fiancee is Mitchell's and George's landlord, adding to Annie's angst.

"Being Human" is unusual in that the show definitely has dashes of humor, both light and dark. In the first episode alone we see how George deals with his "time of the month", finding an appropriate place to "change", while Annie sympathizes about how she had to curl up on the couch with "Pride and Prejudice"; Annie's delight in realizing the pizza delivery man can see her and drilling him with excited questions about how he came about getting his job; Mitchell's frantic driving of George to the countryside for an acceptable place to "change" before deciding putting him in the flat is for the best.

But "Being Human" is not a comedy. It's more a "Dark Shadows" for 2009, without the overt soapiness, and with some adult situations, brief flashes of naked male buttocks and bloodshed.

I found "Being Human" far more interesting and intense than I expected. Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey and Lenora Crichlow are well cast and have great chemistry as the unusual trio of Mitchell, George and Annie, respectively. So far, the show has given some interesting dilemmas to the characters and made them seem real, even with the supernatural elements. You, as the viewer, feels for Annie's loneliness and despair that her fiancee has found a new partner and he can't see her, despite the fact the pizza delivery man can. You feel Mitchell's desire to feed on humans, while wanting desperately to change. You feel George's agitation over having his "safe room" in the hospital taken over and panicking because he needs somewhere to "change", without people around.

Mitchell, George and Annie could be anyone we know - - co-workers, neighbors or friends. And that makes "Being Human" all the more believable and shocking.


My grade: A

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