DVD REVIEW: Being Human Seasons 1 & 2
A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost...
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At the Being Human panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2009, the show’s creator Toby Whithouse described its origins. BBC had asked him to write a show about three college roommates sharing a flat. Try as he might Toby couldn’t turn that into an interesting premise, so instead he went with something a little different. His pitch got rid of the college aspect and replaced generic students with three supernatural characters: a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost. Thus, Being Human was born! Two seasons later, the show is a hit in the UK and a growing phenomenon here in the U.S. The first two seasons have been huge for BBC America and SyFy is even launching its own Americanized version. Before you watch that, though, check out the original; the first and second seasons of Being Human are currently available on DVD and glorious Blu-ray.
The world of Being Human is just like ours, except for the not quite human creatures living amongst us. Vampires are the most common, and they occupy all sorts of jobs in normal society while connecting in a shadowy one all their own. Werewolves are rarer solitary creatures, suffering mindless transformations on each full moon. Ghosts can be found anywhere, and depending on their “age” and practice can be seen and heard. The show is reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the aspect of prevalent supernatural entities existing while regular humans turn a blind eye to their depredations.
And that brings us to the trio of main characters. Mitchell (Aidan Turner) is a centuries-old vampire trying to live a clean life; he’s sworn off of blood before and thinks he can again. George (Russell Tovey) was a mild-mannered student when a chance encounter in a forest turned him into a werewolf scared to death of losing control. Those two friends moved into a flat already occupied by Annie (Leonora Crichlow), who was murdered there though she can’t remember the details of what happened.
Both Being Human seasons come in similar Blu-ray packaging. Both have an outer cardboard box, the front of which shows the main characters while the back has info, review blurbs, and another photo. Inside each outer container are the disc holders which unfold to reveal the Blu-rays recreating scenes from the outer packaging. Season 1’s discs give you a panorama view of the flat, while Season 2’s highlight each character in an alley setting.
Being Human’s first season consists of six episodes and focuses intensely on the three flat-mates. Driven together by their fear of hurting humanity and their shared status as outsiders, Mitchell, George, and Annie form a very close, though very dysfunctional, family. The series begins with vampire and werewolf working together as hospital orderlies, keeping as low a profile as they can in the real world while the ghost spends all of her time making tea in her flat. Each must deal with his or her own unique challenges, relying on the others for help in their individual times of need. Mitchell is at odds with the local vampire elite who seem intent on starting a war with the humans, and all he wants is to be left alone in his quest to ignore the thirst for blood inside of him. The still newly monstrous George desperately wants companionship and blunders through relationships with a cute nurse and another more feral werewolf. Annie slowly pieces together the circumstances of her murder (and the person who did it) while trying to learn why she remains on Earth and what happens to ghosts. In the meantime they also deal with angry neighbors, a landlord with his own secrets, and more. The finale is amazing, culminating in a radical shift in vampire leadership, George spreading his “condition,” and Annie evolving even further.
The second season’s eight episodes are even more intense, as the world seems to be falling apart for the lonely trio. Relationships become ever more strained as each of them goes off on their own paths trying to establish their identities. Mitchell’s turn as leader of the vampires is anything but ideal as he contends with strong personalities and traditions that won’t budge. George thinks he’s ready to have a normal life complete with wife and child, but finds out the hard way that being a werewolf precludes such an idyllic existence. Annie faces hell itself as something from beyond the grave tries to get her back while she embarks on a career of helping others. Throughout the season an external threat arises, a strange conglomeration of science and religion that has a zealous fascination with the supernatural. As with the first season, the action and drama ramps up steadily throughout the episodes with a truly shocking conclusion that’ll leave you dying for season three!
Of course, no Blu-ray set would be complete without extras, and Being Human comes through with a variety of deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurettes, video diaries by the case and crew, character profiles, interviews, and more. They’re spread out across the discs and are fun for some further looks at and into the show, but they don’t really make or break the Blu-rays. You’ll want these for the show and their characters, not the special features.
If you haven’t caught it yet on BBC America, Being Human is a very cool show that looks at the ubiquitous vampire/werewolf/ghost phenomena in a truly different way. It’s not Buffy, it’s not Twilight, and it’s not True Blood. The mythology has its own set of rules, as you’ll discover, but yet it feels familiar at the same time. As noted above, the show is really about the interactions between the three main characters and how they (try to) lead their lives. The title is perfect as the show examines what it means to “be human” from the perspective of three who aren’t, but truly want to be. Fans of the genre as well as those who enjoy British television should definitely check out Being Human. But be careful, you’ll be hooked in no time...
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of BBC America