So far I have only reviewed the pilot episode. The show has since been picked up and is entering its second season.
Directed By: Declan O'Dwyer
Written By: Toby Whithouse
Starring: Guy Flanagan, Russell Tovey, Andrea Riseborough ...
Running Time: 60 mins
Air Date: 18/02/2008
"Being Human" opens with a transformation scene, which is always a good thing. A guy wanders out into the woods, strips naked and then goes all David Naughton on us. Nice. We are then introduced to our two main characters; there's John Mitchell, a cool-as-ice vampire who desperately just wants to fit in with humans and stop 'recruiting' them to his cause, and George the werewolf, who was forced to turn his back on his normal life when he caught lycanthropy and has since been travelling with Mitchell as his companion. The two of them decide to look for a nice, ordinary apartment where they can drink beer and eat pizza .. in other words set themselves up as a couple of average, human blokes. It turns out the apartment is haunted, but since they aren't exactly Grant and Hepburn themselves, the only real problem is her annoying northern accent.
This show could easily have gone horribly wrong, but as it turns out it's really rather charming. The characters are likable and strangely believable, the setting is visually appealing and it's all very well put together. The show understands its heritage and gives homage to the folklore without being a slave to it. For instance, Mitchell has a distaste for sunlight, but can go out in the sun so long as he's sporting his trademark shades and preferably an umbrella. It was written and created by Toby Whithouse, who has recently been working as a writer on both "Doctor Who" and "Torchwood", and it shows here. For british fantasy television, this is very good.
The special effects are surprisingly good for a BBC Three program, and the performances are strong all round. It's very british but also has a nice american edge to it, drawing upon the style of shows like "Buffy" and "Supernatural" while also owing a debt to "Spaced". This is exactly the kind of thing we should be seeing more of on UK television, and I'll be bitterly disappointed if it doesn't at least get picked up for a season. There's really nothing wrong with it at all.
Russell Tovey does a good job here of portraying the werewolf, playing a good character as well as performing well in the intense transformation scenes. The character of George is thought of by the other vampires as Mitchell's pet, as vampires in general seem to look down on those poor lycanthropes. George's curse is fairly standard; once a month he transforms into a wolf and feeds on livestock unless he's caged up someplace. Speaking of which, there's a great, tense scene late on which I won't spoil for you, but it shows great promise for how the writers will deal with the werewolf angle.
As I said, the effects here are very good for a BBC Three programs, and it just goes to show what can be achieved for a minimal budget these days. There are a few visual references to "American Werewolf" thrown in, which is always good, and the only bad thing is that we don't actually get to see the fully-transformed werewolf in this episode. I guess they're saving that for if it gets picked up for a season, in which case they can throw some money at a decent creature design.