BEING HUMAN - Series 3, Episode 2: Adam's Family / Review

S P O I L E R S 

BBCHD - 30 January 2010 - 9.00pm

"Just think of me as your guardian angel"

Brian Dooley's script categorically evokes the perverted humour of Series 1 and very welcome it is too after the far darker exploits of the last series. This is firmly in the vein (pardon the pun) of those earlier episodes where the emphasis was on how supernatural beings adjusted to life in their 21st century environs.

That theme is explored in a number of ways here and in tandem with various concepts of what we would class a 'family' with the story offering both an examination of how families are constructed (the play on The Addams' Family and the inevitable association with the theme tune's lyrics 'they're creepy, and they're kooky...' springs to mind with the episode's title), their eventual dismantling and the maturing of children, how they gain their independence and moral centre.

'I'm only human... born to make mistakes'
Much of this is played out with the introduction of Adam (a brilliantly sullen Craig Roberts), the teenage vampire who is is 46 years old but is still being weaned by his human family. Back in 1985, this is wittily emphasised by The Human League track 'Human' echoing out of the radio as Adam begs his family not to move away. Clearly, it is something his father and mother have to do on a regular basis as they bring up the vampire in the family.

'I'm only human... born to make mistakes' run the lyrics and that patently sums up the maturing process that Adam is faced with later in the episode. After all, you have to be careful about the family you eventually choose, or choose not, to live with and as Armistead Maupin suggests, certain minorities have a choice to make between what they think are their biological family and their logical family.

Back in the present day at the B&B, Nina is concerned about Annie's well being. Although Annie brushes off her trauma in purgatory, the rest of the episode sees her increasingly latching onto Mitchell. Perhaps this is a combination of her insecurities and the acting out of Lia's suggestion that there must be something between them since Mitchell made the effort to rescue her. What Annie learns is that this isn't necessarily true. As Mitchell points out "I didn't drag you back from that place for you to make me breakfast" and as her intensity grows it eventually results in Mitchell having to be honest about how they intend to continue living together.

Along this painful journey we do get the hilarious job interview where Mitchell attempts to take a cleaner's job with the help of Annie that simply results in the interviewer thinking he's completely barking. "Yeah, don't call her Ken" is perhaps the best bit of advice Annie can give him as he sits down in front of Mrs Mawulawde. Is it me or is Annie transformed into a rather annoying Mitchell groupie here, determined to impress him while all the time creating more and more distance between them? And he must have some shit-hot references for Mrs Mawulawde to forgive his ignorance in failing to pronounce her name and then offer him the job anyway. However, it's a wonderfully tortuous bit of comedy embarrassment.

Meanwhile, Nina and George have discovered young Adam at his father's bedside in the hospital enjoying a brief snack. There's a well staged chase through the corridors of the hospital accompanied by a rather tasty bit of scoring from Richard Wells that culminates in Nina finally cornering Adam. The chase is notable in that it halts before what looks like a sealed off bit of the hospital which as we see by the conclusion of this week's episode now harbours a few nasty secrets of its own. Sinead Keenan again proves her comedy chops where Adam's 'Goldie' insult has Nina thinking at first that in some strange way he is insulting her by using a rapper's name (and she's sort of cool with it) when in fact he's comparing her to a Blue Peter dog.

When Adam defends himself and says "Look I'm not some naughty kid" the episode begins to unpack the dilemmas inherent in becoming a vampire in Being Human. The series proposes that vampires don't mature much beyond the mental age at which they turn. Adam may well have existed for 46 years but he doesn't have that maturity in the way he thinks and acts. He's a typical, horny teenager convinced that any female is desperate to have sex with him. "He's still effectively being breast-fed" as Nina remarks and to which Adam's response of "If you're offering" conjures up all sorts of Freudian and Oedipal synapse frazzling images and concepts.
"the last Russell Brand in the shop"
Dooley's script shows the consequences of what happens to child vampires once their mortal parents die and actually picks up on the ideas that Brian Dooley put forward in his fourth episode of the first series where Mitchell gives eternal life to a neighbour's young boy who is run down during the mob attack on the house in Bristol. In a way this is pretty much a sequel offering a view of a young vampire's life, one torn between being a child or an adult, after the dependency on a mortal mother and father is removed. He dovetails that neatly with a coming of age story that most teens would recognise (the mood swings, the awkwardness, the spots, the outsider status) and it also examines class and background as elements in Adam's upbringing. 

It's interesting that he feels kinship with George, Nina, Annie and Mitchell ("it's like bloody Hogwarts round here") after the decidedly strange world he's thrust into where Richard and Emma provide a posh house and a room of his own as a bit of respectability to conceal their blood gimp and pervy parties. The scenes with Richard (the wonderfully arch Mark Lewis Jones) and Emma (a very kinky Melanie Walters last seen frying up endless omelettes in Gavin and Stacey) simply reinforce the idea that even the Old Ones concept of respectability (the "systems in place") is deeply suspect, symbolising the rather fetid underbelly of our own suburbia that evokes more of a fetish club than it does of Hammer horror just as Mitchell comes across as "the last Russell Brand in the shop" instead of the demon that Richard expects to find.

While Annie fusses over Mitchell to such a degree that he finally seeks to draw a line between their closeness as friends, Mitchell is reminded of the damage he has caused with the Box Tunnel incident. Richard has been instructed to offer Mitchell passage to South America before the investigation blows the vampires' cover wide open and humanity discovers the monstrous other hiding in its closet. There is also that very bizarre sequence where the newsreader on the television (shades of Terry Wogan's own appearance in an earlier episode) turns his report into the personal vendetta that announces Mitchell will be depatched with a werewolf shaped bullet.

"drink the man's blood and have sex with me on the billiard table!"
With the death of Adam's father, itself a deeply moving scene with a vision of a parent who has literally given everything to his own child concluding with the appearance of death's door, the young man finds himself adrift with little clue about to how to operate in 'normal' society. When he asks his departing father what will happen to him he is simply told "I don't know." As an orphan he is a member of neither family, especially after he is left with Robert and Emma and their demented ideal of vampire life where even George ends up "chitchatting with a gimp."

Richard and Emma's idea of Adam's transformation from boy to man is based on an idea that the monstrous can be hidden by its masquerade as human, whether it wears a 1970s suit or a gimp outfit. It's a place where as Adam quite rightly says "everything's completely fucked up" and the 'mother' figure will only be happy when her 'son' follows her instructions to "drink the man's blood and have sex with me on the billiard table!"

When Adam sets out on his voyage of discovery at the end of the episode, learning to adjust to his cravings, it is the full realisation of his wanderlust reflected in that earlier image of him in the hospital, sitting in the wheelchair in front of the brilliantly coloured mural of alps, lakes and pine forests, figuratively disabled from attaining the very freedom he desires.

Laugh out loud funny it may be but this is also quite an introspective episode that looks at what constitutes a 'family' - be it a vampire S&M freak out where you have sex with your mother or a crummy B&B occupied by a vampire who's on the wagon, a very persistent ghost and two werewolves madly in love with other - and the various story connections set out to test the limits of friendship.

Bookmark and Share

Viewing Figures

The Legal Bit

All written material is copyright © 2007-2017 Cathode Ray Tube and Frank Collins. Cathode Ray Tube is a not for profit publication primarily for review, research and comment. In the use of images and materials no infringement of the copyright held by their respective owners is intended. If you wish to quote material from this site please seek the author's permission.

Creative Commons License
Cathode Ray Tube by Frank Collins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.