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I wanna be normal
on May 16, 2010
What do you get when you put a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf in the same apartment?
No, there isn't a punchline, because it's not actually a joke (unless you really, really hate urban fantasy). It's the description of "Being Human," a bittersweet little dramedy about a little supernatural gang trying to live their lives in an mundane world -- pretty good acting, a cool concept, and a slow-building plot about some rather ambitious vampires.
A youngish vampire named John Mitchell (Aidan Turner) and his werewolf buddy George (Russell Tovey) move into a nice rented house, and find themselves with a third roommate -- a ghost named Annie (Lenora Crichlow) who becomes almost solid as she hangs around the guys. George and Mitchell work a pair of low-level hospital jobs, and attempt to do normal things like date, go out to pubs, and keep house.
However, the trio still have supernatural problems to deal with: Mitchell is struggling to stay "on the wagon," George is in denial about his beastly transformations, and Annie longs to see her ex-fiance (as well as trying to find out what her earthly tie is). And they have to deal with enraged mobs, more ghosts, homeless werewolves, and the local vampire community (why are they in communities and the wolves are "alone"?), who are planning something major.
"Being Human Season 1" is one of those shows that isn't brilliant, but it IS clever and fun -- especially the whole idea of watching a werewolf, vampire and ghost trying to live "normal" lives ("What is it about us that says 'we need jam'?"). And the writers have some fun mocking the cliches of the urban fantasy genre (where else will you see a "little old lady" vampire?) while also delving into the painful issues of temptation, loss, and what it means to be human.
The first four episodes are a smooth mix of comedy and drama, with some hilarious dialogue ("Who looks in their salad cooler, sees their tomatoes are on the turn and thinks 'Oh no, I'll hang on to those in case some paedos move in opposite'?"). But there's a darker subplot about Vampires Seeking World Domination twined with the one-off plots. And in the fifth episode the storyline suddenly blossoms into a dark, harrowing little plot. Good stuff.
And the main actors do pretty good jobs -- Tovey is quite good as a geeky, mild-mannered werewolf who tormented by his inner beast, and Crichlow is very endearing as a fluttery, brave ghost. Turner is also good as a laddish vampire with a playful side ("The SHIN, George!"), but he doesn't quite have the punky anorexic glamour of Guy Flanigan (the original Mitchell... boy was he sexy!).
There really isn't enough vampire/werewolf stuff on television, and "Being Human Season 1" is a clever little addition to the genre. Not brilliant, but definitely fun.