Wednesday, 22 February 2012

BEING HUMAN, 4.3 – "The Graveyard Shift"

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

It's entertaining, but the edge has gone from Being Human. There's too much of a childish vibe from the performances and storylines for my taste, as the series becomes more serialized, ridiculous and rife with nitpicks. Why are the Old Ones taking so long to arrive? Why is Annie (Lenora Crichlow) written to always be such a silly fool? Why are all the vampires having such a hard time killing a baby? Why was vampire Fergus (Anthony Flanagan) able to enter the B&B without permission in the climax?

For the most part, this episode was all about cementing the new dynamic of Hal (Damien Molony) and Tom (Michael Socha), by forcing Hal to work alongside Tom in the Café On The Corner. A subservient, repetitive and tedious job which Hal wasn't best pleased with, particularly as we learned he's an "Old One" himself who once commanded the utmost respect in vampire society as "Lord Harry" in the 19th-century. The interplay between Hal and Tom, as they struggled to work together before slowly finding a bond (a shared respect for women, a love of Antiques Roadshow), was actually one of the episode's better elements.

Socha still isn't leading man material in my opinion, but he has a likeable rapport with Molony. It's just a shame the material they're given is so stiff or hokey most of the time; not least with the introduction of café regular Michaela (Laura Patch), a sorely unconvincing amalgam of a "goth" and, well, a J.K Rowling-style wannabe, armed with a journal brimming with bad poetry and macabre sketches. It could and should have been a brilliant character, plus a good antidote for the increasingly saccharine Annie, but Michaela was unfortunately little more than a painful stereotype... hastily written out of the show in an awkward way by falling in love with Regus (Mark Williams) after he turned her into a frizzy-haired vampire. An atrocious waste of a character's potential, and the scene where Michaela tried to pay for a hamburger with her "original poetry" was unutterably bad.

Away from the Tom/Hal interplay at the café, most played for laughs, the episode again revolved around the ongoing "War Child" prophecy, with Annie trying to keep baby Eve safe from Fergus and his fanged cronies. It makes sense of the show to become more serialized because standalone stories were becoming difficult to think up, but I've been instantly bored by this clichéd state of affairs. It just gives Annie more opportunities to do her irritating "mother hen" routine, and a diversion where we discovered ghosts can project their memories into vampires (meaning Regus found himself having sex with Annie's first love in a tent) wasn't funny, it was just weird and inconsequential.

I know there's lots of people enjoying series 4, but the spark has gone for me. It was always going to be tough replacing most of this show's regulars, and I don't mean to suggest Molony's bad—because he's interesting and different to Aidan Turner, despite unfortunate crossover with their character's histories. It just feels like the show's coasting by on dumb and trashy ideas, and even the show's style and inventiveness seems to have been curbed. There's an action sequence towards the end that highlights the limitations of this show's budget, in ways it used to overcame with clever camerawork and staging. (It doesn't help that there's a relatively expensive US remake airing now, so the differences are more noticeable if you're watching both shows.)

Overall, "The Graveyard Shift" did little to persuade me that series 4's going to equal the previous three years of this show, let alone best them, because it's simply lost too many characters and the writing has become more immature. Maybe that's partly because Tom and Hal have more lightweight personalities than their predecessors George and Mitchell. I don't begrudge fans who still gets a kick from their Sunday night fix of Being Human, and it remains generally entertaining, but I'm just not excited by what feels like a stupider version of a once-great series.


  • There was an amusing reference to George and Mitchell's great affection for The Real Hustle, with Hal and Tom watching that show on television and looking bewildered by it, before turning over to Antiques Roadshow.
  • So was Regus purely there as a Basil Exposition figure for these early episodes, or will he be back with vampire girlfriend Michaela soon?
written by Jamie Mathieson / directed by Philip John / 19 February 2012 / BBC Three