A werewolf, a ghost, and a vampire share a flat together in Bristol, England. That’s the basic premise behind the BBC series Being Human. These three twenty-somethings attempt to fit into human society despite the fact that they are not human. Mitchell, the vampire, found George, the werewolf, and befriended him. They moved into the flat previously lived in by Annie, who is now no longer “living” in the flat since she died and is now a ghost.
My initial reaction to the series’s premise was probably the same as most: really, seriously? How is that not just a joke? But I figured I would give it a shot seeing as how I love British sci-fi. Wow, was I impressed! It’s an absolutely brilliant show that combines many different elements: horror, humor, drama, mystery, and even a bit of soap opera. The dialogue is excellently written, and the characters are not only believable but likeable as well. My wife, who is not really a sci-fi fan per se, fell in love with the series almost instantly. She hates shows that are too dramatic or too cheesy, and this show is neither. It blends drama and humor quite well in a manner similar to Doctor Who.
The first series ran just six episodes of one hour each back in 2009 on the BBC (and they’re real hours, too, not like the US 42-minute “hour”). It has also aired on BBC America. The creator of the show, Toby Whithouse, clearly had certain elements of the show well planned because they are set up from the very first episode, though you don’t necessarily notice them until later. For example, without giving too much away, a cashier at the canteen of the hospital where George and Mitchell work who seems unimportant at first eventually becomes a vampire herself (and in the second series of the show we see her as someone important). It reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s set-up of minor elements that become important later on.
As for the plot of the show, in the first series, Mitchell attempts to give up blood altogether, with mixed results. Herrick, the lead vampire who also happens to be a policeman (and is definitely one of the best vampire characters I’ve ever seen), thinks he is mental and wants to recruit Mitchell into his attempt to take over the humans so they can become like cattle to the vampires. Meanwhile George struggles to control his lycanthropic curse and also attempts to have a relationship with Nina, a nurse from the hospital where he works. She of course doesn’t know that he is a werewolf. Their relationship becomes more complicated in the final episode, but I won’t give too many spoilers here. And, finally, Annie just wants to be seen by ordinary, non-supernatural people. In fact, any kind of sighting is fine — in the first episode she is excited when the pizza delivery guy sees her, as well as by someone calling her a slag. She is an eternal optimist, but when she finds out the truth about her death, she nearly breaks down.
The second series recently finished airing on the BBC and ran for eight episodes. I won’t go into detail here because it would spoil some crucial events of the first series, but suffice it to say that it is just as good as the first series (although there were a few minor details I felt were unnecessary, especially some of what happens with Annie). It has been renewed for a third series, though I don’t know when it will air (I suspect in January 2011 since the first two series started in January). The cliffhanger ending of the last episode of the second series certainly makes me want to come back for more!
In the interest of completeness, I should mention that a pilot with different actors playing most of the characters (except George) and with a different plot aired back in 2008. I have yet to watch it, however, and am not even certain that I will since I’m pretty attached to the current actors. And Syfy is working on a reimagining of the series as well. I’ll probably give it a chance, but I’m not expecting much, although the involvement of Toby Whithouse, the original creator, does give me some small hope that it might be good.
Rating for Series 1: 5 / 5 Stars
Rating for Series 2: 4.5 / 5 Stars