Vampires, werewolves and ghosts are the three "types" of supernatural creature in Being Human's universe, but we're introduced to a unique fourth in the aptly named "Type 4": Sasha (Alexandra Roach), a Welsh zombie chav killed in a car accident who wakes up on the mortuary slab and, naturally, leaves to continue partying in town. Unfortunately, Sasha's decaying body and gashed face don't get her past fussy nightclub bouncers, and after picking a fight with ghost Annie (Lenora Crichlow) in the street, who's wistfully soaking up the atmosphere of kebabs and vomit, decides to follow her home to the B&B...
There's undoubtedly a comical, smart premise behind "Type 4" that's perfect for Being Human's sensibilities. Its zombie was initially treated as a figure of irritation and disgust (echoing many people's feelings towards Sasha's social group), until Sasha's humanity started to overshadow her putrid appearance and we could see the sweet fun-loving girl underneath. A woman who only in half-death, robbed of her good looks, realized she'd wasted her life as the WAG of himbo rugby player Gethin (Jonny Owen).
Sadly, "Type 4" was ultimately one of those episodes where the potential wasn't quite realized, as it didn't really have enough weight and complexity to it. It felt like a mistake to reveal Sasha lived in opulence above her own attainment, as it gave us the feeling her life had been quite charmed and, frankly, enviable to many women from her background. Wouldn't the story have worked better if Sasha didn't live in an expensive house with a locally famous boyfriend? The lesson she learned as a zombie ultimately amounted to: you're ugly now, so attractive men in nightclubs will only dance with you to win a bet, your idiot boyfriend wants nothing to do with you, so it's best to embrace your postponed death. I can't help thinking the story needed a different approach to do justice to its intentions.
Elsewhere, Mitchell (Aidan Turner) realized Annie may have developed feelings for him, but was distracted by the appearance of schlubby vampire Graham (Tony Maudsley), an admirer of his who uses his knowledge of Mitchell's train massacre to blackmail himself into Mitchell's life as a new friend. The idea behind super-fan Graham, who even copied Mitchell's straggly hairstyle, was arguably more entertaining than the main storyline with Sasha, although it followed a more predictable path. But it's a shame it couldn't have been given more prominence, as it was rather amusing to see Mitchell struggle to get rid of Graham without his guilty secret coming to light. He basically had to accept someone as a fake-friend, or risk losing his real friends.
Finally, Nina (Sinead Keenan) revealed she's pregnant to George (Russell Tovey); or, rather, he discovered her pregnancy test kit and forced a confession before she had time to get an abortion behind his back! This wasn't a big surprise, as we knew George and Nina had sex while in wolf form during "Lia", but it throws up some interesting prospects for the series. Will their child be a werewolf from birth, cursed to undergo painful transformations as a baby? Will lycanthropy only materialize in adolescence? Or will their child be born unaffected and normal? It's basically an allegory for any number of hereditary diseases, but naturally your mind wanders to the allegory of a couple with HIV deciding to be parents. It's rich material for great drama yet to come, although lazily throwing in the idea Nina's actually more anxious about motherhood because she was abused by her own mother felt unnecessary, despite a good performance from Keenan during that scene.
Overall, "Type 4" contained some entertaining elements, but it somehow didn't amount to much. I didn't particularly like Alexandra Roach's performance as Sasha when she was in her more abrasive phase, which to some extent was intended, but I thought the character lacked the charisma required. And despite a fun subplot for Mitchell and an exciting development for George/Nina, it wasn't enough to overcome this episode's biggest problem: it was mostly filler, and the second episode that's chosen to focus on a different character than the four regulars. It's almost as if the writers don't have enough material for the main cast, so have to bring in guest stars like vampire Adam and zombie Sasha. Hopefully the remaining episodes will shift the spotlight back on the regulars (especially now that Annie and Mitchell have kissed) and next week's preview at least confirmed the tardy return of the McNairwolves.
Maybe the annoying thing about "Type 4" was its placement in series 3? A bit of silly fun with a zombie WAG might have made a nice breather in episode 4 or 5, but as the third episode it felt like it was impeding the juicier stories set in motion by the premiere.
What did you make of it?
- "We're a supernatural hostel now, are we? What next, a mummy?" Nina swiftly deflates the concerns of an audience that Being Human's about to wander into OTT True Blood territory of were-panthers, shape-shifters and witches.
- Graham mentioned staying in to watch the assault course gameshow Wipeout. Has that replaced The Real Hustle as the show's pop-culture favourite? If so, shame. That's not even a BBC3 show!
- Did anyone else think Mitchell dragging Graham out of the train carriage, assuring frightened passengers he's a ticket inspector dealing with a troublemaker was in homage to the "no ticket" gag from Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade? Or a plain steal?
- Okay medical nerds: would the pill have no effect on a wolf?
- I liked the idea that Sasha was only created because her soul couldn't pass through to the afterlife because of Mitchell's rescue mission there. The Door was in use, so she couldn't pass through. That doesn't make much sense, and surely there would be thousands of zombies around the world, but it neatly stopped the existence of zombies becoming am everyday issue.
- Herrick-watch, week 3: still no sign.
written by Jamie Mathieson / directed by Philip John / 6 February 2011 / BBC3/HD