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Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
f the Season Two finale of “Being Human,” I wrote that it “sets up a third season that will either be brilliant or a disaster.” Well, I’m both sad and happy to report that it is neither. Much happened in the last two episodes of the second season – the Box Tunnel massacre led by Mitchell (Aidan Turner), the resurrection of Herrick (Jason Watkins), and most importantly, Annie (Lenora Crichlow) being forced to go through the door into Purgatory, and Mitchell vowing retrieve her. All of these elements play heavily into Season Three to varying degrees of success.
Now, Mitchell’s trip to Purgatory sure seemed like it would make for great television and the series wastes no time getting him there. It turns out to be nothing more than a drab house full of strange rooms that recall moments of Mitchell’s checkered past, and a slightly annoying woman called Lia (Lacey Turner), who foretells that the vampire will be killed by a “wolf-shaped bullet.” Oh, and she also happens to be the ghost of one of Mitchell’s Box Tunnel victims. When he finally finds Annie, it doesn’t take much to get her back to the corporeal world, and given how bland Purgatory was, one wonders what all of her fuss was about in the first place. Based on the images we saw of her screaming through the TV, you’d have thought she was burning in Hell.
Meanwhile, back in Wales (yes, Wales – the group has moved from Bristol into an empty Welsh B & B), George (Russell Tovey) and Nina (Sinead Keenan) appear to be doing just fine, and dealing with the complexities of being a werewolf couple without too much trouble. Until the full moon comes along, that is, and they end up in the same cell together for the night, and the werewolves get jiggy, and next thing you know, Nina is preggers. Perhaps their baby will come out looking like Eddie Munster, but that may be asking too much. And it would be too much, but not outside the realm of possibility, because if there’s one problem with the first few episodes of Season Three, it’s that the show appears to have lost its fine balance of horror and humor.
Episode Two, “Adam’s Family,” features the gang taking in Adam (Craig Roberts), a 46-year old vampire in the form of a teenager. (This episode was the springboard for a spin-off webisode series starring Roberts called “Becoming Human.”) Episode Three, “Type 4,” introduces a new supernatural element to the “Being Human” tableau, this time in the form of a zombie. The show, however, doesn’t have much to say about zombies, and one wonders why the writers even bothered. Both of these episodes (and to a degree, the season premiere as well) are played far too comically broad and without much seriousness.
That’s a potential problem with a show like this: Once you go black, you can’t go back. And by black, I of course mean dark. “Being Human” got very dark towards the end of the second season, and in these opening installments, the show feels like it’s wasting time. A couple weak episodes at the start of a season of TV aren’t necessarily a deal breaker, unless, as is the case with “Being Human,” you’ve only got eight episodes in which to tell your story. Then, two episodes is a quarter of your ongoing tale. It also doesn’t help matters that our four heroes are more human than ever at this point, and the show even goes so far as to develop a forced and unnecessary romance between Annie and Mitchell. These characters work best when they’re having their humanity ripped out from under them, but there are moments here where the whole thing seems to have gotten awfully syrupy.
Luckily, Robson Green (best known in the U.S. as the star of “Wire in the Blood”) is around to get things back on track. He’s a werewolf named McNair who just so happens to have a natural son, Tom (Michael Socha), so therefore George and Nina, who are expecting, take an interest in their situation. Green brings a great deal of class and gravitas to the show, plain and simple. He’s got an intense screen presence that screams out “Inside this guy is an animal that cannot wait to get out.” Likewise, Herrick’s (Jason Watkins) resurrection, which isn’t addressed until the fifth episode, “The Longest Day,” is a highlight, and, if one were handing out awards for the year, Watkins would win Best Actor for the vampire with amnesia whom everyone fears, but must keep around for a variety of reasons. (It took me back to the days of Scorpius moving onboard Moya for a season in “Farscape.”) Episodes Four through Seven are mostly very good to great installments, and one wonders how, within the span of eight episodes, the writing can veer from boring to stimulating so quickly (and then maybe even back again).
This brings us to the finale, which seems to, like the season itself, be a mixed bag, but I’ll say no more than that in regard to the plot. Perhaps the truth of the problems here lie in the fact that Aidan Turner is leaving the show, presumably to go work on “The Hobbit,” in which he’s been cast as Kili. The entire season leads up to his exit, and this time last year the show probably wasn’t even prepared for him to leave. He’s one of the three leads, and one wonders how and if the show can even go on without him. A fourth season has been given the go ahead, but it’s difficult to imagine it working without Mitchell, who in many ways has been its central figure since Day One. Oh, I’ve no doubt Toby Whithouse and Co. will make a go of it, but it’d be best to keep expectations low at this point.
In any case, if indeed “Being Human” has already run out of steam, there’s always the American remake which kicked off on Syfy earlier this year. Out of a fierce allegiance to the original, I didn’t bother with the Syfy take, but at this point it seems silly not to, especially if it’s as good as folks have been claiming it to be.
Special Features: There are fewer extras than ever, but then, the extras have never been a strength of these season sets. There are 12 minutes worth of deleted scenes, 20 minutes worth of interviews with Turner, Tovey, Crichlow and Keenan, and lastly, a tour of the new Bed and Breakfast set with Sinead Keenan. The Bed and Breakfast is actually pretty cool, by the way, and makes for quite a change in the series, given how expansive it is, and how it can be turned into a house of horrors (of sorts) when the writers decide to go there.