Monday, 27 February 2012

BEING HUMAN, 4.4 - "A Spectre Calls"

Monday, 27 February 2012

A weird episode that didn't work that brilliantly, although it got increasingly more enjoyable because of its sheer lunacy (peaking with a one-take disco dance of triumph). The setup was unfortunately a hoary chestnut, though, as a peculiar stranger appeared and deftly turned friends against each other before getting his inevitable comeuppance. In Being Human's case, the manipulative stranger was oddball Kirby (James Lance), a toymaker who died in 1975 but has returned to help Annie (Lenora Crichlow) with baby Eve on behalf of her dead mum Nina.

It was always going to be difficult convincing us that Kirby could so quickly ingratiate himself with Annie, and I don't think this episode succeeded too well—although it certainly helped that Hal (Damien Molony) and Tom (Michael Socha) aren't best friends yet, so easily turned against each other, and Annie herself is a qualified idiot. You just wondered why more questions weren't being asked of this strange man with his stupid glasses, evident wig, lilting northern accent, and pale blue jacket. He was the dictionary definition of weird, conspicuous and untrustworthy, so just made every character look brain-dead.

Guest star James Lance (I'm Alan Partridge, No Heroics) was obviously directed to give this style of calmly nutty performance, but it didn't work for me. It's as if the show half-remembered it started life as a comedy-drama, so Kirby was a "creepy clown" figure at the centre. There certainly weren't many other good jokes happening in Tom Grieves' script, which is something Being Human could really do with just now—although I did giggle at the scene where Hal (dressed like '80s-era Patrick Swayze) had to pretend he was Tom's boyfriend to a home-visiting doctor.

There were only a few scenes where Kirby was genuinely menacing, sadly, most notably the moment he revealed his true colours to Annie and made her fizzle out of existence, but otherwise his character and Lance's cartoon-y performance was too ridiculous for me to get behind. The situation with Kirby was also so predictable that I came to prefer the undercooked subplot with Hal tracking down a lawyer who's been ordered by vampire Cutler (Andrew Gower) to falsify the official report about the Box Tunnel Murders that Mitchell was responsible for. (That's still a big deal in the local news, which is fair enough.)

It seems that Cutler's trying to pin the blame on someone else they can later claim was a werewolf, as part of a plan to get the world used to idea that such monsters exist and are a very real danger. The long-term goal will assumedly be to then introduce the existence of vampires as a species who can protect humans from these despicable, man-eating lycanthropes. As usual, none of that really feels like it'll play out adequately on a show like Being Human, but you just have to swallow what you're given. For me, I just liked the development that Cutler's making friends with vampire-hating Tom (bailing him from jail for attacking a vampire, thanks to CCTV footage amusingly "proving" he was being violent to thin air), and that Hal's on something of a collision course with the vampire clan who don't yet know an "Old One" is living amongst them already.

Overall, "A Spectre Calls" can be chalked up as another entertaining but oddly uninvolving episode with too many stupid or silly moments. An episode where the successful erasure of Annie is implausibly undone by her just returning in fiery-blue "super ghost" form. Still, at least it's clearer that the ghost in the TV from the future wants Eve dead, and this week sent Kirby to do her bidding. I just have no idea why she can't do any of this herself, unless she's the adult Eve and killing yourself creates a paradox. The surprise that Hal has a burn on his shoulder, which the killer of Eve is prophesied to have, was also quite nice... although obviously this is likely to be a red herring.


  • A thought that occurred to me: if baby Eve is human, then she can't see Annie the ghost. Therefore, the poor kid's going to grow up thinking it's normal to spent half your day levitating!
  • More trivia we're only just hearing about now: werewolves can't come back as ghosts. Does this go for vampires, too?
  • Why did Kirby suggest that Hal might one day bite Annie? She's a ghost! Is that even possible? The show is always very confused about the exact nature of ghosts, in terms of how they can be hurt, or how they can defend themselves. I'd love some clarity on the matter.
  • Did anyone else notice that Hal was dressing in a more modern style this week? Has he run out of suits and waistcoats?
written by Tom Grieves / directed by Daniel O'Hara / 26 February 2012 / BBC Three