Being Human Review

Being Human was a British cult series created by Doctor Who writer Toby Whitehouse. It ran for 5 series from 2009 to 2013 and was part of a wave of British cult series that followed in the wake of the revival Doctor Who..

Being Human I think was always the most overlooked from this generation of fantasy series. Obviously it did not have the worldwide acclaim of Doctor Who, but even compared with other series like Sherlock and Merlin I still think it was not given nearly enough mainstream attention.

After all it was shown on BBC3 rather than a mainstream channel like Merlin and Sherlock were. Still despite this Being Human has developed a very strong and devoted worldwide following and it even inspired an American remake.

I have not yet had a chance to watch the American remake so this review will only be covering the British version. I will be giving an overview of the series its characters, its lore, its influences and comparisons to other series and ultimately why I feel this supernatural drama was actually the best British fantasy series of the past 20 years.

Overview

Being Human was created by former Doctor Who writer Toby Whitehouse. Originally it was pitched as a comedy, revolving around three twenty somethings, one of whom was a sex addict, another an agorophobe, and another with chronic rage problems, sharing a flat.

Part way through development however Whitehouse added the supernatural elements, and the sex addict became a Vampire, the agorobobe became a Ghost and the person with chronic rage problems became a Werewolf.

Traces of the original premise can still be found in Being Human, with many stories in season 1 revolving around Annie being too scared to leave the house, Mitchell not being able to control his bloodlust during sex, whilst in season 2 George’s attempts to control his Wolf side result in him developing chronic rage problems (to the point where he almost beats his boss to death.)

Originally Being Human starred Aidan Turner as the Vampire, John Mitchell, Russell Tovery as the Werewolf, George Sands, and Lenora Crichlow as the Ghost Annie Sawyer.

Its first series revolved around the three paranormal creatures attempts to build a normal life for themselves, as well as Herrick (played by Jason Watkins) attempts to build a Vampire army to sweep the world and conquer humanity. There is also a subplot of Annie discovering that her own fiance Owen killed her.

The series ends with George managing to kill Herrick, and Annie getting her revenge on Owen by driving him mad.

The seconds series sees an anti paranormal organisation target the trio. Its leader Lucy Jaggat is able to seduce Mitchell, who takes over the Vampire community in Herrick’s death and tries to convince them to swear off blood.

George meanwhile also ends up infecting a nurse named Nina that he was in a relationship with, which strains their relationship.

Eventually Jaggat, under the guidance of the psychotic, fanatic Kemp, plants a bomb in the Vampires headquarters which kills them all, save Mitchell and Daisy who go on a massive killing spree in response.

Though Mitchell is able to save George and Nina from Kemp, sadly Annie’s ghost is exorcised to the other side by Kemp.

The second season ends with Daisy and another Vampire minion of Herrick bringing him back through a blood ritual, whilst Mitchell, George and Nina move to Wales, where Kemp (who kills Jaggat along the way) follows them, only to be pulled into hell by a vengeful Annie, who Mitchell vows to rescue.

In season 3, Mitchell is able to cross over to the other side and rescue Annie. On the other side however he is told by the ghost of one of his victims Lia, that he will be killed by a Werewolf soon.

Mitchell and Annie later begin a relationship too, but things get worse for the group when Herrick returns. Lacking any memories of who he really is, the group take him in and try to help him, but unfortunately the police soon discover Mitchell’s role in the box tunnel massacre and he is arrested.

Herrick meanwhile later regains his memories and nearly kills Nina, before going on another rampage, before he is finally killed by Mitchell.

Mitchell unable to live with what he has done, and terrified that he will lose control of his thirst again, is able to convince a reluctant George to finally stake him.

The third series ends with a member of the Old Ones, a group of elite Vampires promising that very soon their kind will rule the earth.

In between series 3 and 4, Nina gives birth to a child, but the Vampires kill her soon after. The Old Ones are soon preparing to launch an all out attack against the rest of humanity, but they soon discover a prophecy that states that the child of two Werewolves, (George and Nina) will bring about the end of the Vampires.

George is later killed whilst defending his daughter Eve. Annie meanwhile gains a new roommate in the form of Tom McNair, a Werewolf who hunts Vampires, after his adopted father (also a Werewolf) was killed by Herrick.

Later another reformed Vampire named Hal moves into Tom and Annie’s flat, after his best friend a Werewolf named Leo, and his Ghostly lover Pearl move onto the afterlife.

Hal is over 500 years old, and much like Mitchell was once one of the most notorious and cruel Vampires.

Hal, Annie and Tom do their best to protect Eve from the Vampires, but another threat emerges, in the form of a Ghost lady from the future who also wants to kill the child.

The Ghost lady later reveals to Annie that she is in fact Eve herself! At some point in the future, the Vampires, led by their king, Mr Snow will reveal themselves to the world, and wage war on humanity.

The Vampires after 20 years of fighting will gain the upper hand, and conquer not only humanity, but other supernatural races, including Werewolves.

By the 2030s the Vampires rule the world, and both humanity and Werewolves are round up into concentration camps. Tom dies in these concentration camps, whilst Hal returns to being an evil monster, and becomes literally the poster boy for the Vampires. Annie meanwhile after losing all of her friends finally fades away into nothing.

Eve in the future later discovers the final part of the prophecy that states that the Vampire race will only end when she dies. With it being too late by that point, Eve in the future still kills herself, and performs a ritual that allows her spirit to travel to the past to avert this terrible future.

Eve begs Annie to let her younger self die, but she can’t bring herself to do it, until the Old Ones, led by Mr Snow arrive. Realising how dangerous they are, Annie reluctantly blows both Eve and the Old Ones up after a final showdown, which erases the terrible future, after which her soul is able to finally move on.

The final series of Being Human revolves around Hal, Tom, and a new Ghost named Alex who was initially a love interest of Hal in life, before being killed by a former Vampire associate of Hal named Nick Cutler.

The new trinity has to deal with the Devil himself, Captain Hatch who plans to bring about armageddon (with it also being revealed that the Devil created Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts.)

At the end of the series, Hal, Alex and Tom are able to seemingly kill the Devil, by uniting his three curses against him. After the Devils death, all three are rendered human, but sadly it is later revealed that this is just a dream orchestrated by the Devil who is still ravaging the real world.

A bonus scene on the DVD shows Hal, Alex and Tom realise that they have been placed in a dream and go to fight the Devil. Whether they succeed or not is left open ended.

Best Seasons

Being Human can really be divided into two distinct era’s. The George and Mitchell years and the Hal and Tom years. If you wanted too I suppose you could divide it into three different era’s. The Mitchell, Annie and George years, the Hal, Annie and Tom years and the Hal, Tom and Alex years.

Most people I talk to tend to prefer the original series starring the original supernatural trinity of Mitchell, Annie and George. Personally however if I had to pick my favourite series I’d say it was 4.

I like series 4 the best for a number of reasons. First of all I prefer Hal as a character to Mitchell.

I loved Mitchell, Aidan Turner is a truly charismatic and engaging performer however Mitchell is a bit more of a straight forward good guy Vampire character. The dark, brooding, sexy bad boy character that we have seen a dozen times. Though I felt the end to Mitchell’s story was quite a good twist on the reformed Vampire story as Mitchell ultimately fails to be a control his bloodlust. Sadly as he himself says, he always was the bad guy and has to be put down by his best friend.

Still Hal to me offered up a new take on the good guy Vampire. He was almost a comical deconstruction of that type of character being presented as more neurotic than dark and brooding, more of an uncool and awkward character than a dangerous loner.

I think the potential for comedy overall was better with Hal than Mitchell, though at the same time I felt Hal when he was evil was far more menacing than Mitchell.

Mitchell was more like an animal giving into temptation where as Hal had a certain calmness about him. The scene where he murders Larry in cold blood is far more disturbing than the Box Tunnel massacre.

Hal slowly choking him to death whilst saying calmly “this is the real me Larry” is as frightening a moment as any involving any of the main villains in the series. What’s even more disturbing is the way that Hal does it just for fun. At the very least whenever Mitchell killed it was to satisfy his thirst for blood.

I think it was good that they were able to make Hal and Mitchell such drastically different characters. On the surface they seemed very similar. Both once the most powerful and dangerous Vampires who become good guys, both were turned in the middle of a battle and both have to deal with Vampires from their past who try to lure them back to their old habits, but really underneath they are polar opposites to one another.

Mitchell is the fun, easy going guy that everybody loves. He can befriend anyone and is the cool guy of the first trinity.

Hal on the other hand is the neurotic, uptight, awkward one who doesn’t know how to interact properly in any type of social situation. When someone is bothering him at work he goes off into some big ridiculous monologue about the old days when he had a horse and peasants would be tortured for defying him!

Also their evil persona’s as I already mentioned where very different too. Mitchell when he is evil resorts to physical violence. This is not only seen in the Box Tunnel massacre but in all the old stories he and Herrick recant of his exploits. They are all about how he tore someone apart or killed someone in a pub.

Hal on the other hand when he is evil he is more manipulative and cruel for the sake of it. He doesn’t just tear people’s flesh off he enjoys getting under their skin and twisting their minds more and takes pleasure in torturing his victims and hurting them in ways that are nothing to do with just simply feeding like Mitchell. This can be seen in the way he tricks Cutler into drinking his wife’s blood, or the girl Kirby describes who Hal made love him before eating her heart, or the way he managed to trick Leo and capture him to use in the dog fights, or even in the alternate future when he becomes the Vampires poster boy and sets up the horrific Vampire concentration camps and brings the Dog fights back.

Thus as both villainous and sympathetic characters Hal and Mitchell offered a very different dynamic from one another and whilst both were great characters ultimately I much prefer Hal and Damian Molony who is one of my favourite actors it must be said’s performance.

Another reason I liked series 4 the best is I liked the way it portrayed the Vampires. Now I love Vampire fiction. Its one of my biggest interests, however I do prefer my Vampires to be evil. I don’t mind one off good guy Vampires, but I feel that most of them should be monsters. I don’t like stories that portray Vampires overall as misunderstood creatures.

My ideal Vampires are arrogant, bloodthirsty monsters. In the first 3 series whilst we were introduced to plenty of evil Vampires like Herrick we also see more sympathetic Vampires like Lauren, Adam, and even Ivan and Daisy to some extent whilst in series 2 Mitchell also manages to convince an entire group of Vampires to stop drinking blood.

In series 4 however Vampires with the exception of Hal who even then has his moments are all irredeemable monsters. We see them take pleasure in not just killing but torturing their victims too. Even the Vampires who do turn on their kind like Cutler and The Vampire Recorder only do so for their own selfish reasons. I also think they felt like more of a force to be reckoned with in series 4 too, and it was cool the way we actually saw what an earth under the Vampires would be like too.

The Vampires are literally like the Nazi’s persecuting other supernatural races, (Werewolves in particular) and herding people in their millions into death camps. I love the opening scene in series 4 where we see the ravaged ruins of a Vampire ruled earth. Its kind of like the Dalek Invasion of Earth  but with Vampires!

Finally I also found the story arc in series 4 to be the strongest too. I know a lot of people aren’t keen on the War Child story, but I loved it. I felt it was quite an unusual idea for a Vampire series. I mean its not often that you see time travel in a Vampire story is it? Though having said that I think it was pretty obvious from the start that time traveller was Eve herself.

I also liked Annie sacrificing Eve. Now I know that is a controversial opinion and I can understand why. Its a bit much to have your main character actually kill their best friends baby! Still I felt it was quite an interesting and dark twist on the usual story that we often see where there is a relative of one of the main characters who is destined to do something bad and the hero has to decide on whether or not to kill them or save the world. Other examples of this type of story include in season 5 of Buffy where Buffy has to choose between sacrificing Dawn to stop Glory, and in Supernatural where we see Sam Winchester is prophecized to be the vessel for Lucifer and Dean has to deal with hunters like Gordon Walker wanting to kill him to prevent this.

In Sam and Dean and Buffy’s case however it all works out. Okay granted Sam goes to hell and Buffy dies, but still ultimately both get brought back and Sam loses all of his memories of hell and that’s that. Neither Buffy or Dean had to actually sacrifice their loved ones. In Being Human however its not like that.

There’s not some big magic deux  machina where Annie avoids the horrible future and saves Eve. You think its going to be that when Hal and Tom talk about eliminating the Old Ones, and its really shocking when Annie blows them all up. It was heartbreaking, but a very bold ending to the story.

I think series 4 also tends to focus on the fantasy elements more. It expands the mythos more featuring other supernatural creatures like Demons and even explaining where the Vampires came from. The first three series tend to focus more on the soap opera elements.

They tend to more revolve around the main characters attempts to fit in with humanity and their romantic misadventures. Even in series 1 which sees the Vampires try and take over the world, our the main characters more just react to it at the end of the series.

In series 4 however we have characters like Tom who actively goes and hunts Vampires and episodes like Eve of War are pure action and fantasy from start to finish.

I think series 4 is more comparable to series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural in that like them its a series about people hunting supernatural creatures and saving the world from them. Series 1-3 however is more comparable to series like True Blood in that its a series that shows us how supernatural creatures exist in our society albeit obviously in a different way to True Blood.

I think a large part of this is due to the character of Tom. Michael Socha really brought a physical edge to the series through his performance that I think allowed them to do these types of stories with big massive Vampire fights such as in the finale. Its hard to imagine George bursting into a room and killing hundreds of Vampires like Tom.

The only time we ever see George take on lots of Vampires at once is when he has changed partially into a Werewolf in series 4. Tom however can do scenes like that all of the time. Compare Mitchell and George’s fight in the last episode of series 3 slapping each other to Hal and Tom’s big brawl in the last episode of series 5 and you will see how Socha really brought more of a physical edge to the show.

Having said that whilst series 4 is my favourite and I do prefer Hal to Mitchell I think series 1 and 3 are better than series 5.

Series 5 is not a bad series. I loved Phil Davis as Captain Hatch. I think Being Human benefited from having consistently strong villains. Not only where all the villains great characters, very well written, with great motivations, but they were all played by brilliant actors like Jason Watkins, Mark Gatiss, Donald Sumpter and Phil Davis. Also series 5 has the single best episode of all time too the finale. Still a lot of series 5 does feel like its reusing old ideas.

Crumb is a similar character to Lauren. Both Vampires who were turned by the main character and both end up killing lots of people before trying to control their blood lust and ultimately killing themselves.

Larry is also pretty much the same character as Tully from series 1. Both Werewolves who are losers and perverts who manage to somehow serve as role models to the main werewolf character and end up leading them astray, before clashing with the Vampire. There is even a scene in both episodes where Hal and Mitchell threaten Tully and Larry to leave instantly and they refuse.

Hal and Alex’s romance is also comparable to Mitchell and Annie’s too in that its another Vampire/Ghost love story.

Again this is not to say series 5 is bad, but it doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the earlier series and with this in mind perhaps its best that it was the last series.

Series 3 I’d say is probably the best of the Mitchell, George and Annie years. Again its story arc is very strong. Its not a big grand storyline like series 4 or 1. The only threat is to the main characters, but that works in its favor as its such an unbelievably tight story and it pushes our characters to the very limit.

I think series 3 is really Aidan’s series. They all have their moments but he really gets to show us so many different sides to Mitchell. He shows us how romantic and sweet he is with Annie one minute, but then gets to show us a really devious side of the character such as when he tries to feed Nancy to Herrick. Mitchell’s death is also brilliantly handled too. I will say whilst I preferred Hal I think Mitchell’s relationship with George was much better written.

Series 1 is a good strong opening series. Jason Watkinns is a good villain and the series does quite a good job of slowly introducing us to this fantastic world, the Vampire’s secret society, their feud with the werewolves, the men with the sticks and ropes. Only problem with this series however is its weak finale.

I think the Vampire takeover is halted far too easily. I mean compare what they have to do to stop Herrick to what they have to do stop the Old Ones. Granted the Old Ones are a bigger deal than Herrick, but still you’d think it would require more than that to stop all the hundreds of Vampires he had gathered as an army.

Series 2 I think is the weakest series. I don’t like its story arc. Again I’m not keen on the Vampires all trying to kick their blood habit and I also don’t like the idea of an organisation designed to track down the supernatural that goes evil. Its one of these ideas that sounds quite neat on paper, but for some reason it just never seems to work out. An example of this would be The Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kemp is quite a good villain however, but I just didn’t like this series and I feel this was when the series was at its most soap operaish.

If I were to rank the series then it would be like this.

1/ Series 4

2/ Series 3

3/ Series 1

4/ Series 5

5/ Series 2

Top 10 Episodes

10/ Eve of War

A great opening episode for series 4. This story to me really shakes things up brilliantly with the deaths of to main cast members. Its sad that Nina dies off screen. She is consigned to the same fate as Tully and Daisy this way. Still George’s death is very moving and its good watching him die to save his daughter even if it is pointless. I also love Griffin the main villain in this episode he is such a vicious bastard at one point he even says casually that he is going to skin George alive.

9/ The Pack

This episode introduces McNair and Tom properly. A large part of why I like it is because I absolutely love McNair. Robson Green who plays him is brilliant, he really captures the characters fanaticism and rage brilliantly. McNair’s scenes with Mitchell are the best and I like the way that Mitchell and McNair do have a certain level of trust in each other by the end of the story, even though it obviously doesn’t last as McNair is back trying to kill him again in his next appearance.

8/ All God’s Children

Though I don’t like series 2 that much it does have an amazing finale. Its great seeing what a true monster Kemp is the way he is prepared to brutally kill innocent people in his crusade against the supernatural. Also seeing Annie get sent through the door was really quite shocking the first time, though I don’t think anyone was upset when Jaggat died. Mitchell’s rampage is also great too as is his big confrontation with Kemp. I love George’s line of don’t you tear the world apart in her name when Mitchell tries to kill Kemp for what he did to Annie. Its ironic though as Annie later kills Kemp in that very episode.

7/ Floatsam and Jetsam

The first episode of the entire series this episode is a brilliant start to the show. It sets up the characters relationships with each other nicely. Even here you can see that Annie and Mitchell have a special kind of chemistry with one another. It is also gives you some quite nice insights into the Vampires world with Herrick. I love the moment at the end where he quietly threatens Mitchell and assures that something big is happening.

6/ Where the Wild Things Are

The penultimate episode of series 1. Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorites because we finally see Annie get Owen. Owen I found to be one the most hateful villain in the entire series. Ironic in a way as he only killed one person, but I think its because he just seemed like a nasty bully compared to say Herrick or Hatch who at least seemed like dark charismatic villains.  Gregg Chillin was great as Owen and I never tire watching him get his just deserts.

5/ Being Human 1955

This episode does a brilliant job of bringing Hal into Annie and Tom’s life. From the very beginning Hal and Tom’s chemistry with each other is dynamite. Their final fight in the shop is so thrilling and I love the way Annie talks them out of it, pointing out how above all else they will simply be letting both McNair and Leo who were both so proud of them at the end of their lives down. Leo and Pearl’s relationship was also very sweet too and of course Louis Mahoney who plays Leo is always excellent value for money.

4/ Though the Heavens Fall

This episode makes the list because so much happens in it. We have the death of McNair, Nancy, Herrick regaining his memories, Mitchell being arrested and Annie and Mitchell’s relationship breaking down. I must admit I loved watching Herrick killing Nancy. Its funny even though we should be on Nancy’s side as Mitchell was behind the Box Tunnel massacre I still fucking hate her guts. Its sad to see McNair die though, but still you gotta give Herrick major credit for killing so many characters. McNair (in Wolf form which is pretty badass), Nancy and dozens of police men all by himself and then he stabs Nina in the kidney with a butchers knife! Its definitely Herricks crowning moment of evil when he seemingly kills Nina by stabbing her a pregnant, defencless woman in the back in the kidney. Its even worse when you consider the fact that she saved his life when he had no memories from Mitchell and looked after him for months, but he just does it to show how he isn’t going soft.

3/ The Wolf Shaped Bullet

The third season finale this episode makes the top ten purely for Mitchells moving death scene. Though all of the main cast would eventually depart the series in tragic ways this marked the first time we saw main character die and it was a very powerful moment, but it did the character justice. It was a great twist on the whole good guy Vampire story that for once actually there is no redemption for our hero Vampire. Unlike Angel or Spike Mitchell wont achieve redemption. Sadly he will die a monster and that’s that he lost the battle with the monster inside him. Though perhaps the fact that he willingly gave his life rather than risk anyone else just by his sheer existence can be seen as a form of redemption. I also love the fact that the thing that is really able to give George the courage to stake his dearest friend is the idea of him being used as a servant of the Old Ones to kill more people. Both Tovey and Turner are fabulous in their final scenes together.

2/ The War Child

A controversial episode but still one of my faves. The thing that really propels this to one of my favorites is Mark Gatiss’s performance as he Vampire Mr Snow. Gatiss is one of the shows best villains. He is just mesmerizing on the screen and utterly hideous at the same time. One of my favorite moments is when in the future he says to a rebellious human “I don’t intend to kill you all. You’re far too delicious!” and then smiles to reveal his hideous rotten, green teeth. It makes me shiver every time. I also loves the way he humiliates Nick Cutler. Poor Cutler Nick Cutler as Mr Snow loves to call him, he’s felt he was a history maker for the entire series and then just gets completely crushed by Mr Snow who compares his idea to a child holding its own excrement.

1/ The Last Broadcast

The final episode is also the best one in my opinion. Really this episode is just a joy from start to finish. Hal and Tom’s fight in the pub, Leo’s moments with Hal, the final show down with the Devil and best of all Hatch’s speech which has got to be the best supervillain monologue of all time. Phil Davis as Hatch is as good as Mark Gatiss was as Mr Snow. He plays the Devil with absolute evil relish and really captures the characters dark humour wonderfully. Most importantly the episode finishes the series perfectly. Some fans may not have liked the unhappy ending but it made sense to me.

Each series had had a unhappy ending. In series 1 George infects Nina in series 2 Annie is lost and Mitchell has given into his Vampiric cravings like never before, in series 3 Mitchell dies, in series 4 Annie is lost again and Eve dies. Thus to me a darker ending was the only way the show could have ended. Perhaps it would have been better had they kept the extra scene in and left it open ended whether or not they did stop Hatch. Still I like it as it is. Its so creepy, yet I love how understated it is. They don’t come right out and say “they’re still trapped in the dream” its just one little clue, though it is a pretty definite clue that lets you know they ultimately didn’t succeed and the Devil won. Its a horrifying idea that they are just left there lying on the floor dreaming whilst the Devil is inflicting god knows what horrors upon humanity, and that’s why I love it.

Characters

John Mitchell

John Mitchell was the shows main Vampire from series 1-3. He was definitely the shows most charismatic leading character. In many ways he could be seen as the central character in series 1-3. After all the main villains from all of those seasons are linked to him in some way. Herrick, Jaggat and Lia and thus its really his attempts to control his bloodlust that drives the main story arcs of those seasons forward more than anything else.

It doesn’t surprise me that Mitchell is one of the shows most popular characters. He is a Vampire, everybody loves Vampires, he is played by Aidan Turner, everybody loves Aidan Turner and he is just that type of character people love anyway the dark, brooding, sexy loner character.

I think Mitchell offered up a more tragic take on the whole good guy vampire character. Ultimately Mitchell is forced to kill himself in order to stop feeding again. We have seen dozens of characters like Mitchell, but usually there is a happy ending of some sort like they become human r a champion for justice.

Even if there isn’t a happy ending at the very least they die as heroes. With Mitchell however he is ultimately a lost cause and knows that even if he manages to control his desire to kill for now then in a few years time or even a few decades after George dies then he will revert back to being a monster.

Often I think its presented as being too easy to stop drinking blood if you’re a Vampire in certain works of fiction. It makes it look like being a Vampire is a cool, fun thing. You just stop drinking blood for a while and that’s that no problems and you get all of these cool super powers.

With Mitchell however they show you what a horrible curse being a Vampire is as not only is Mitchell forced to kill himself for the greater good, but he also doesn’t actually manage to stay completely clean throughout the entire time that we know him anyway.

George Sands

The first Werewolf of the series played by Russell Tovey. George I think is really where most of the comedy comes from in the original three series.

Tovey I think was more of a natural comedic performer than the other two main cast members. There are so many funny moments with George from his disasterous attempts to flirt with Nina on Tully’s advice to his getting frustrated with Annie making tea to his correcting the grammar on graffiti even when it is directed at him “that should be Mr Sand sucks cocks not suck cocks”.

Much like the later Hal George is presented as being incredibly neurotic and uptight yet still very likable and sweet.

Tovey and Turner in particular had a wonderful chemistry with one another. Their’s was more of a straight forward Bromance than the later Odd couple vibe they went for with Hal and Tom

Of course just because he was great at comedy do not think that this means that Tovey could not cope with the more emotional scenes either. His final moment with Mitchell where he is forced to kill his best friend is definitely one of the most moving in the entire series.

Annie Sawyer

Possibly my fave character. Its a toss up between her and Hal. Annie is arguably the most well developed across the series, though this isn’t surprising considering she is there the longest.

When we first meet Annie its hard to imagine a more helpless, vulnerable character. Even with her supernatural powers at first she is unable to get back at Owen.

As time goes on however we see her take on a much stronger role and get back at Owen as well as fight off Demons who try and drag her spirit to hell and by series 4 she has become someone who can fight her way through dozens of Vampires whilst screaming “GIVE ME BACK MY FUCKING BABY!”

Annie also unlike a lot of other female heroes such as Xena or Wonder Woman not sexualized either. She always appears in her pyjama’s as those were the clothes she died in.

I’d say that Annie is really the main character in series 4. It feels like her show at that point and as a result of that I’d say that is probably her best series.

Hal Yorke

I love Hal. You may have guessed that already. Hal was both much funnier and scarier than Mitchell. As I already mentioned in contrast to Mitchell Hal was a more awkward character who could barely interact with anyone. One of my fave moments is when he and Tom have to pretend to be boyfriends in order to look after Eve and whilst Tom is okay with it Hal is clearly embarrassed by the whole thing terribly.

However at the same time evil Hal was much more terrifying than Mitchell. The difference between Hal’s evil side and good side was much greater than that between Mitchell’s evil and good side.

With Mitchell he was just portrayed as losing control whilst with Hal it was shown to perhaps be a split personality. His good side referred to his evil side in third person and his evil side would even refer to his good side as a different man and later dead.

Damian Molony really excelled at playing the two different sides of the character.

Tom McNair

The second Werewolf played Michael Socha he was a very different character to George. George was definitely funnier, but Tom was more of an action hero. Socha with his performance really brought a physical edge to the show which suited the direction the series was going in at that point.

Tom’s relationship with Hal had more conflict in it than George and Mitchell’s. They were presented as two people you’d never think of as becoming friends. Not only was one a Vampire who had had a long history of persecuting Werewolves. Hal had helped kick off a global conflict with Werewolves and had used many of them in Dog fights. Whilst the other was a Werewolf who hated Vampires with a passion and collected the teeth from every Vampire he killed. Even without those rather huge differences however the two still could not be more different. Tom is a more simple minded person whilst Hal is more of a pompous intellectual with a taste for the finer things.

Thus as a result of this the two tend to clash more. There are like about 6 huge fights between the two of them in the series. In their first episode together they end up pointing a shotgun and a stake at each other.

Yet despite this the two do still manage to become good friends and there are a number of rather touching moments between them where we see the depth of their friendship such as at the end of series 4 where Tom says that Hal is his best friend.

Alex Millar

Sadly as she only got one full series Alex is the least well developed of all the main characters. She appeared in a few episodes of series 4 and all of series 5 and is the second Ghost character replacing Annie. She is played by Kate Bracken.

Alex was more of a Tomboy in contrast to Annie who was more of a stereotypical damsel in distress when we first saw her. Alex’s more laddette persona made her a brilliant foil for the sensitive, prissy and uptight Hal.

I think its a shame that the second trinity wasn’t given as much time to develop as the first. Even though series 5 does reuse a lot of the same ideas as the earlier series it does still manage to reinvent the show superbly with 3 brilliant new characters and its a shame that we didn’t get to see more of their relationship with one another.

Kate Bracken did an excellent job with Alex.

Nina Pickering

George’s girlfriend and from series 2 onwards also a Werewolf Nina is played by Sinead Keenan. She is definitely my least favorite of the main characters in the series. Its not that I dislike her I just felt that she detracted from the main three at times and didn’t really have as well developed a persona as the other 6 main characters.

Having said that though I did enjoy her relationship with George. If nothing else Keenan and Tovey had marvellous chemistry with one another.

I will say as well that it was a shame that Nina’s death happened off screen. Whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character she deserved better than that.

William Herrick

The main villain of the first series Herrick played by Jason Watkins is probably the shows most famous villain. He is a Vampire leader who plans a massive Vampire takeover of the world. He not only enjoys killing innocent people, but torturing and demeaning other supernatural creatures, Werewolves in particular though in series 3 he mentions his desire to exterminate all Werewolves and Ghosts too in his new world order.

Herrick is one of my fave villains and Watkins does a great job at showing us what a manipulative and vicious monster he is.

I actually think I preferred Herrick in series 3. Even though he spends most of the series unsure of who he is in the last two episodes he manages to kill McNair, Nancy, an entire platoon of police men and a police station and very nearly Nina too. I also love the scenes where he torments Mitchell and George in the cage. Its great watching him actually manage to turn the two friends against each other.

I liked Herrick in series 1, but I felt he wasn’t given quite as much to do ironically in almost the full series he appeared in as himself. Though he did get to almost kill Mitchell I still found him more impressive in series 3.

Kemp

Kemp played by Donald Sumpter is main antagonist of the second series. He was in many the ways the opposite of Herrick yet actually quite a similar character. Herrick believed in the supremacy of the Vampire race and sought to exterminate and subjugate other races like humanity and Werewolves. Kemp meanwhile believes that human beings have more right to exist than supernatural creatures and so he seeks to exterminate all of them regardless of whether or not they are benevolent. Thus his mentality is the same as Herrick’s even if they are on opposing sides. Its a shame we never got to see him face off against Herrick they would have been a good match for each other.

The character of Kemp is primarily motivated by the death of his family who were killed by Vampires. He even keeps the same blood soaked bible he used to fight off the monsters with him to this day. It becomes obvious that Kemp was driven completely insane by this as he is later shown to be willing to murder innocent human beings in his crusade against the Vampires.

Definitely his most effective moment as a villain is when he banishes Annie’s spirit to the other side. Of course this ultimately proves to be his undoing.

Lucy Jaggat

My least favorite villain in the series. Jaggat I think was intended to be a more sympathetic villain. Unlike Herrick or Kemp she is constantly unsure if what she is doing is right and later feels extreme remorse for the crimes she commits. However I just never really bought her as a love interest for Mitchell I think that was the problem. Their love story just happened too fast and its quite funny the way Mitchell doesn’t even mention her after she is killed by Kemp.

Whilst not a bad villain she just lacked the impact that the other rogues had.

Nick Cutler

A Vampire and villain of series 4 played by Andrew Gower. Cutler served a similar role to Herrick in that he was a Vampire leader who tried to temp the main Vampire character back to his old ways, however whilst Herrick had turned Mitchell, Cutler had actually been turned by Hal. Despite being a brutal and sadistic monster Cutler is actually one of the shows more sympathetic villains. He was someone who just simply wanted to make his mark on history.

That’s practically his catchphrase “be a history maker”.  At the end of the series however when he confronts Mr Snow a man who not only is a genuine history maker but has also met other people who have left their mark on history too including even Jesus the awful truth of what a wanna be Cutler really is becomes apparent to him. When Snow sees Cutler he is unimpressed and sneers “I have already forgotten your name” which is rubbish as he loved saying “Cutler Nick Cutler” too much he was clearly just saying that to rub it in.

Cutler will do anything to be remembered as seen at the end when he is literally crawling along the floor in agony in an attempt to wipe out his own species by killing Eve just to be remembered. Ultimately however he is destined to be forgotten. Even as a Vampire he is just a complete nobody.

You can’t help but feel bad for the guy particularly as it is all Hal’s fault he ends up like this. Not only did Hal make him a Vampire, but it was also Hal who filled his head full of ideas that he was special and destined for great things when he never was.

Cutler Nick Cutler is definitely one of my fave villains in the series and Gower really played well off of both Socha and Molony.

Mr Snow

The main villain of series 4. Mr Snow is the leader of the Old Ones and thus the entire Vampire race. He is played by Mark Gatiss in what I feel is the performance of Gatiss’s long and varied career.

Snow is one of my favorite ever Vampires. He is repulsive to look at with his hideous green rotted death and veiny skin and dirty hair. Yet at the same time there is something alluring about the character. He has a certain dark charisma and appeal.

I think Gatiss is able to embody so many different Vampire traits in his performance to really make Snow seem like the ultimate Vampire. On the one hand he does embody the repulsive, demonic aspect from many Vampire stories. On the other he has a certain otherworldly eerie charm to him that’s like Lugosi as Dracula. Finally he also has a tremendous physical presence like Christopher Lee as Dracula as seen when he casually disembowels a man with his hand.

Snow is only featured briefly at the end of the fourth series but it doesn’t matter. He is only used fleetingly but effectively.

Dominic Rook

Dominic Rook played by Steven Robertson is the first villain to become a main cast member. He works for the mysterious Men in Grey an organisation designed to contain supernatural threats. Rook is not like Kemp in that he is not a fanatic. He is even willing to make deals with Vampires and Werewolves and other supernaturals. He is not entirely evil and is more portrayed as misguided. He believes his organisation is working for the greater good and that any sacrifice is necessariy to keep it going. He is shown to feel guilt for his actions and in the end he ultimately sacrifices himself to stop the devil, though this is later revealed to merely be part of the Devil’s fantasy.

Rook was a great villain. A misguided character that you hoped would see the error of his ways, but ultimately crossed the point of no return and like so many others in his quest for the greater good ended causing far more pain .

Captain Hatch/The Devil

The main antagonist for season 5. Hatch played by Phil Davis was a brilliant villain for the show to finish on. You can’t get a much bigger baddie than the Devil can you? Davis is superb in the role. He is nasty, loathsome, yet charming and strangely likable all at the same time.

The thing I like the most about the Devil is how easily he beats the main heroes. He literally just points his finger at them and that’s that. Its over. Of course it appears that they best him a little too easily at first, but then we see at the end how they have just been trapped in another dream.

Ultimately our main characters had no chance against Hatch. He was the shows ultimate villain and finally managed to bring about the end of the world.

If they were going have our main heroes ultimately fail then they needed to have a villain you would believe would be able to defeat them and Hatch certainly seemed dangerous enough to fulfill that role.

Lore

Vampires

The Vampires in Being Human represent among my favourite take on the undead. They are vicious sadistic monsters by and large and though a few of them are shown to try and ultimately all of the Vampires who try and control it end up giving in sooner or later. Mitchell ends up killing an entire train full of people and has to stake himself to avoid more death, Mitchell’s friend in series 2 kills the man he loved, Crumb and Lauren like Mitchell both kill themselves and even Hal who at the end of the series reverts to his bad Hal persona.

Being a Vampire in Being Human is portrayed as a miserable, violent existence as it should be. Its not a teenage fantasy.

I also felt this series handled the Vampires take on their hatred of Werewolves too. Vampires versus Werewolves is an old trope, but I like the way the Vampires hatred of Werewolves stemmed from fear and we saw how they demeaned Werewolves by locking them in cages and forcing them to kill innocent people.

On the one hand it felt like they were trying to drag them down to their level forcing them to have innocent blood on their hands and on the other it felt like a lot of them enjoyed caging these powerful creatures and treating them like they were inferiors.

The show also gave us a wide range of interesting and very different Vampire characters too from Hal to Herrick.

Werewolves

Werewolves I felt were the least developed of the three principal supernatural creatures in the series. We never really find out much about them and the Werewolf rules are fairly generic and bog standard. The most interesting aspect of the Werewolves in the Being Human universe was really their relationship with Vampires. Other than that however I felt that Werewolves were the least developed supernatural creatures in the series which is a shame.

Ghosts

The Ghosts in Being Human have a slightly more well developed background than the Werewolves. Whitehouse really took us deep into the lore and came up with quite a few interesting ideas. In the Being Human universe Ghosts remain behind because of unfinished business which isn’t always something nice. The other side isn’t always presented as being something nice either. Indeed throughout the series there are a number of moments that suggest something horrible is waiting for even nice people on the other side such as in series 2. Whitehouse keeps his options open. He doesn’t tie the afterlife down to one particular religion or idea even with the presence of the Devil in series 5 which allows a lot of flexibility when writing his Ghost characters.

Demons

Demons only make a few appearances throughout the Being Human series. Not much is revealed about them, but whenever they do appear they prove to very effective antagonists. The Men with Sticks and Ropes are Demons from the other side whose ob is to track down spirits who refuse the door to the other world. Once a Ghost completes its unfinished business a Door will appear that leads to the afterlife. If it refuses the Men with the Sticks and Ropes will have to try and force them through another one.

The Men with the Sticks and Ropes however are not benevolent creatures. They manage to drive one man named Saul insane and force him to kill himself later so that they can use him to drag Annie’s spirit to the other side. It appears that they wished to take Annie to hell as the corridor they try and drag her to is red and they mention not rewarding her and showing no mercy to her. Later when the men with Sticks and Ropes appear in our dimension they mention taking Alex to hell.

It is possible that when a ghost turns down its door then it becomes vulnerable to being taken to hell by the men with the sticks and the ropes. Prior to this a Ghost will go to whichever afterlife it deserves but when it turns down its door then its fair game for Demons to capture it. I quite like this idea though Alex hadn’t turned down her door yet on that occasion they were working for the Devil so the normal rules didn’t apply.

They are not the only Demon species that exist in the Being Human universe. There are many different types of Demons. In series 4 we see a Succubus a hybrid of Demon and human. Succubuses are the children of Demons and people. Yvonne’s father was a Demon who is described as beautiful but cruel whilst her mother was a woman. The type of Demon that gave rise to Yvonne must be powerful as even its child is shown to be capable to taking over Vampires and Werewolves. Despite this however the Vampires ultimately overran the Demons in the alternate future as they overran the entire world!

In series 5 we see many Demons serve Satan. Sadly however again we aren’t taken deep into Demons in the Being Human universe. I think had the series gone on we probably would have found out more about them which would have been a great way to expand the mythos of the show, but sadly we never saw much of them.

Zombies

Zombies appear in only one episode Type 4. Still Being Human I think gave us quite a nice take on Zombies. In the Being Human universe Zombies are not the usual Walking Dead flesh eating brainless monsters. They retain exactly the same intelligence and personalities they had in life, but their bodies are rotting.

Zombies are rare they are only created when there is an imbalance in the cycle between life and death. They are spirits trapped in a body that has died.

Being Human’s take on Zombies allowed us for once to have a sympathetic Zombie that wasn’t just a salivating monster.

Influences and Comparisons to other Series

Being Human creator Toby Whitehouse

Many have drawn comparisons between Being Human and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However despite this Toby Whitehouse the creator of the series claimed that he has never seen a single episode of either Buffy or Angel. Thus any comparisons between both series is purely coincidental.

There are many common tropes and characters that pop up across many different pieces of Vampire fiction. Obviously the good guy Vampire trope we see with Mitchell, Angel, Spike and Benny from Supernatural and the evil Vampire Hunter that we see with Gordon Walker in Supernatural, Daniel Holtz in Angel and Kemp in Being Human. However again this does not mean that Being Human owes anything in particular to these series

Whitehouse has instead cited the old Hammer movies as a big inspiration. You can see quite a few nods to these classic films in Being Human. In the first episode series 3 George is trapped in a prison cell whilst he is changing which is an homage to the Hammer movie “The Curse of the Werewolf” where Leon played by Oliver Reed is trapped in prison whilst he changes.

Herrick’s method of resurrection by having blood spilled on his remains is also an homage to the Hammer movies where Dracula played by Christopher Lee is brought back from the grave by having blood spilled on his remains.

Whitehouse has also cited Let the Right One In as another big influence on Being Human.

Being Human’s largest influence however was the series Ultraviolet. Toby Whitehouse said of Ultraviolet a Vampire tv series from the 90’s “Ultraviolet was a brilliant piece of television and a massive influence on Being Human” “I would have loved to have written for that show. it was terrific and one of the most underrated shows of the last 20 years”. He also said that whilst he felt it could have ran for years if it did it probably would have “put paid to Being Human”.

Being Human could also be compared with the Blade film series. Both involve Vampires living in a secret society alongside ours which they are able to manipulate for their own means. In both cases there are Vampires who wish to come out and overrun humanity too. However I have never read that Being Human was inspired by Blade so again it may just be a case of similar tropes being used by both works.

Why I Prefer Being Human to Other Recent British Cult Series

To me Being Human is the best British fantasy or cult series of the past 20 years. I think its much better than Sherlock or Merlin or yes the revived Doctor Who.

To me Being Human was the best as it remained the most consistent. Unlike Merlin which I feel lost its way to the end or Doctor Who which I feel took until its third series to really find its groove and lost its way a bit in series 8 though regained it in series 9. Being Human’s writing apart from series 2 remained meanwhile strong for me throughout.

Its best episode for me was the last episode so yes I obviously think it was great right up until the end.

I also feel that Being Human was able to mesh the ordinary and the fantastical better than a lot of other series for me too.

Again looking at Doctor Who at times I think it could be quiet clumsy at this. The Caretaker for instance is just a soap story with a badly thought out robot tossed in. Being Human however I think was actually able to bring the Vampires and Werewolves into everyday environment and show us how they can function in normal situations.

I also think the villains in Being Human were all very strong too. Merlin and the New Doctor Who obviously had great villains, but a lot of them were villains created years ago like the Daleks or Morgana. Even then I don’t think they have always handled them right. Like the Cybermen in New Who who have been badly treated or Morgana in Merlin who though played by an excellent actress was turned into a Wile Coyote, Stop that Pigeon type of a character. For ages every plan of hers was “Kill Arthur” a plan which was obviously going to fail or there would have been no show.

The villains of Being Human however had more wide ranging schemes and they also perhaps most importantly didn’t suffer from overuse. Herrick was the only villain who came back and even then he was only a villain after he returned for two episodes. Unlike Moriarty in Sherlock, the Daleks and the Cybermen in New Who and Morgana in Merlin the villains in Being Human like Mr Snow, Kemp all get a series sometimes only a few episodes to appear in and then that’s that, and hey Captain Hatch ultimately wins too!

Also finally I think Being Human had the best finale of any recent cult series. The ending of Merlin was terrible. It actually threatened to ruin the whole show for me where as Being Human’s ending was fitting and dark, but very understated too.

Whilst I realize that this is obviously just my opinion ultimately I have found Being Human to be the most well realized cult series of the past 20 years in the United Kingdom and I only hope is fandom continues to remain strong in the years to come.

4 thoughts on “Being Human Review

  1. Very impressed by how comprehensive this review is. I liked Being Human a lot, and I agree with you about its consistency, apart from Season 2 which wasn’t as compelling.

    It always struck me what a high body count this show has. Even if a character leaves the show alive, we find out they died later. People who say everyone dies in Game of Thrones should check out Being Human.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having watched Supernatural, True Blood, Being human and recently Merlin, I have to agree with you that it was one show that maintained a high right to the very end. It didn’t fizzle out IMO the way True blood or SPN seems to. It didn’t leave me reeling with unsatisfied NEEDS like Merlin has and it was such a refreshing, unassuming lovely show. It was probably one of the best of british drama and is definitely underrated. I personally think Merlin was a brilliant show. (The end killed me and I can never get over that) but it was extremely popular and I’m glad I watched it now rather than when it was really big because I would have surely been disappointed. BTW I read you review for Merlin too and I so badly want your alternate ending to be the real one!!! Revealing he is a sorcerer in the last 36 minutes of the entire series?? Not cool!

    Have you any other reviews for similar shows? V. Interested 😀

    Like

    • Thank you for your comments. I do like Merlin too, but yes the ending was very poor. Glad you liked my alternate ending. I have written about many other series and I will soon be reviewing many great British comedy series.

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