Monday, 28 February 2011

'BEING HUMAN' 3.6 - "Daddy Ghoul"

Monday, 28 February 2011

A mixed bag this week, with another guest-star focused storyline, this time balanced with pertinent events back at the B&B. The latter was definitely the most engaging aspect of "Daddy Ghoul", although the former was decent filler because George's father was a more relevant character than vampire Adam and zombie Sasha from earlier this series.

After the cataclysmic events of "The Longest Day" there was a feeling of deflation with this episode, as the atmosphere returned to relative normality. Nina (Sinead Keenan) was still wary of Mitchell (Aidan Turner) now she thinks he's a sicko who keeps a scrapbook of death under the attic floorboards, but primarily she looked to be regretting ever having called the police with an anonymous tipoff about the Box Tunnel 20 massacre. The long arm of the law arrives in the form of DC Nancy Reid (Erin Richards), a beautiful blonde who attracted the furtive attention of Herrick (Jason Watkins) with her cut knee, as the amnesiac vampire is starting to suffer withdrawals. I guess I can accept that Nina has started to have second thoughts about bringing the police into the situation (if only because it may expose vampires to the world if they arrest Mitchell and interrogate him), but it still felt strange that headstrong Nina's shock and revulsion was diluted so quickly.

Elsewhere, it was frankly bizarre to see Annie (Lenora Crichlow) and Mitchell back on good terms, after their horrendous bust-up. You would hardly know a bad word was said between them from how they interacted here, which is perhaps a problem stemming from how UK dramas aren't written in teams. Did writer Lisa McGee get to read last week's script, or was she just briefed about the current state of things and someone forgot to mention Mitchell and Annie's explosive argument? Either way, creator Toby Whithouse could have smoothed the transition by rewriting dialogue to better reflect the repercussions of episode 5.

There was also some confusing series continuity, as a cold open flashback to Paris 1933 gave us a True Blood-esque scene between Herrick and Mitchell in an ornate hotel room containing a dead body and glasses full of siphoned blood. It was here that the debonair Herrick revealed to Mitchell that a vampire inherits the memories of their maker. An interesting piece of vampire lore, but we've seen Mitchell create progenies before now and I never got the impression they had inherited all his memories. To me, this felt like a retroactive way of explaining how Cara knew how to resurrect her maker Herrick. But did you ever get the impression dimwitted Cara had all of Herrick's memories and knowledge? Also, Mitchell himself was turned by Herrick during WWI, so if he was given all of Herrick's memories after becoming a vampire, why did he need to be told any of this? I'll leave that to the super-fans to debate or explain.

The situation at the B&B was suitably tense once Reid started sniffing around, especially when Annie turned Hopkirk to Reid's Randall and helped solve the mystery after realizing Lia (the girl she saw in purgatory) was one of the Box Tunnel 20. There was also some fantastically creepy sequences with Herrick throughout this hour, which are giving Watkins the best material he's had to work with that plays to his strengths. Here, he cut a peephole in the attic floor so he could salivate over Reid's fresh knee wound, before retrieving her bloodied bandages from a bin and sucking on them. But the pinnacle of the episode, for me, was the moment when "Uncle Billy" made himself known to Reid in the bathroom, and Herrick fought against his instinct to tighten his jaws around the policewoman's neck. Having him manage to pull himself back from the brink was unexpected, as was having him give Reid the incriminating scrapbook as evidence. Mitchell may have saved his skin by ensuring Reid didn't leave manage to steal his property without a warrant, later burning it in the garden, but there's no way Reid's going to let this matter lie. As a relative underling at CID, she knows solving this case will make her career.

The majority of the episode was spent elsewhere, after George discovered that his father, George Sands Snr (James Fleet), had died, and decided to attend his funeral. This was the first time we've seen anything of George's family, whom he ran away from after being turned into a werewolf (a decision that's never felt plausible to me), and the storyline here was engaging in the moment. I really liked how George caught his nervous dad's ghost watching how own funeral, and the two decided to reconnect in a nearby caravan, while trying to determine what George Snr needs to do in order to "crossover" to the other side. A kind of posthumous Bucket List that involved them watching Titanic.

I've always found James Fleet irritating, mainly because he plays the same fidgety, upper-middle class milquetoast role in everything he does, but that shtick was used well here. You could buy into George Snr as a spineless tool who let his marriage collapse when his wife Ruth (Marion Bailey) had an affair with bullying former PE teacher Marcus (Danny Webb) during salsa classes, and in death had to man up to win her back. Only, he wasn't really dead. In a beautiful subversion of the spectral cliché popularized by The Sixth Sense, George discovered that his dad unwittingly faked his own death when his shed burned down, toasting an unfortunate vagrant, and just decided to go with the flow when everyone assumed he'd died.

A marvelous idea, although the actual epiphany (with George catching his dad eating) was oddly flat - maybe because the rules about ghosts aren't so fixed in your head. George may have mentioned that ghosts can't eat, to help us out when the reveal came, but it still didn’t quite connect. It would have been better if George Snr was caught catching something thrown at him -- as new ghosts don't have that ability, right?

There was also a great moment when George summoned the courage to tell his parents he's a werewolf, which they didn't believe, but unburdening himself was enough. The moment was played like a "coming out" scene for a gay man (is that the core werewolf analogy in Being Human) which worked very well, and I had to wonder if George Snr spent this whole episode thinking George and Nina's "condition" is that they're both HIV positive.

Overall, I definitely rate this episode as an entertaining hour that ultimately served a purpose, even if the entire storyline with George's parents was just something to pass the time. I hope we'll see more of the Sands, despite the fact George now has less reason to be so tormented about his past. "Daddy Ghoul" was one of those episodes where the A-story was less compelling than the subplots, as everything going on at the B&B was effortlessly more exciting because it has more back-story and relevance to series 3's ongoing narrative. There were some frustrating slips and, for me, moments that didn’t quite make sense, but the situation with Mitchell and Herrick appears to be reaching a crescendo I'm keen to see.


  • I didn't find Annie quoting Cheryl Cole lyrics to George in the kitchen very funny, mainly because the words to "Fight For This Love" have nothing to do with grieving a loved-one.
  • There was a clear reference to The Shawshank Redemption with George and Nina's alibi about escaping from a cult by digging a tunnel hidden by a Raquel Welch poster, but was Herrick's attic peephole a nod to Shallow Grave?
  • "I'm not very good with death", says Annie the ghost.
  • "Daddy Ghoul" didn't really broach how death should mean something very different to Being Human's characters. They have empirical proof that there is an afterlife, so I thought the episode could have mentioned this when George read his dad's obituary. It would definitely change the way in which you mourn someone's passing, wouldn't it?
  • So, uh, you don't want to tell your parents you're going to be a father yet, George? Again, did writer Lisa McGee know this was a storyline in-play?
written by Lisa McGee / directed by Philip John / 27 February 2011 / BBC Three/HD