BEING HUMAN - Episode Two

BBC3 - 1st February 2009 - 9.00pm

Just when you think this series can't get any better along comes the second episode and writer/creator Toby Whithouse grabs the concept of the series by the scruff of the neck and takes it to the next level. I was really very impressed by the audacity Whithouse displayed here. He could have been content to coast along with the rest of the series but instead takes each of the characters and uses an overall plot and sub-plot to develop them emotionally and physically.

The main focus this week is on George. Russell Tovey is joined by Dean Lennox Kelly as Tully. Now, Tully very briefly appeared in last week's story but here is fully revealed to be another werewolf who is willing to impart his experience to George. There is some gorgeous interplay between the two actors and the plot seemingly raises Tovey's game because there are scenes in this where he is utterly brilliant. And, no, I'm not favouring him because we got a few more gratuitous shots of his bum. He and Lennox Kelly take the relationship of George and Tully from that of supportive brothers, sharing life experiences, through to a shocking and devastating conclusion where the tables are turned and it is George who emerges as the stronger of the two.

...George finds himself introduced to a former Miss Isle Of Wight
This episode opens with a narration from Mitchell who describes the physical difficulties of werewolf transformation as we see Millennium FX work their wonders on Tovey. We then pick up the story with Tully confronting George the morning after. Meanwhile, as Tully shows George the ways of the urban lycanthrope and moans about the vampires that keep beating him up, Mitchell has invited in all the neighbours in a bid to 'join humanity'. George finds himself introduced to a former Miss Isle Of Wight and an ex-con who knows far too much about Vin Diesel. There's a great gag that sums up the show too as George observes that the neighbours, "...are British. You're not allowed to talk to your neighbours until you've nodded at then for 15 years."

'George is as George does'
Tully shows up with the neighbours and slowly insinuates himself into the household. This has a disruptive effect on the three other housemates. Essentially George has a stalker, Mitchell has certain Alpha male issues with Tully and Annie is initially attracted and then later, once Tully has made a rather physical grab for her, she is repulsed and finds him 'creepy'. We've all experienced how a new friend suddenly breaks up our little gang of mates and how an impressionable acquaintance can suddenly change personality once they meet someone who...well...impresses them. George becomes a clone of Tully, alienated from his mates, underlined by that unsettling line 'George is as George does'. It's clear he can't be that clone though because his attempt to emulate Tully's chat-up techniques with women is an utter, if not hilarious, disaster. The scenes between Lenora Crichlow and Lennox Kelly are also delightful, especially their breakfast chat about Annie's ex. Mitchell seems to think that reaching out to other humans is a way of becoming human when actually all three of the housemates are exploring the humanity of their situation without realising they're doing it. That's the beauty of the concept.

In the background, vampire Lauren is also up to no good. She turns up on the doorstep and attempts to seduce the 'lapsed' Mitchell back into his vampire ways but he's strong enough to resist her. When Annie gets frightened by Tully's own advances she finds herself in the street and stumbles upon a police incident and witnesses Lauren being escorted from the scene by a rather angry Herrick. She's obviously been helping herself to the local populace for a quick snack as we eventually find out. This leads to a heated argument between Mitchell and George ("I don't know, he might shave his palms", "I actually think that's racist") where it is quite clear George has vanished under the influence of Tully. A sweet little scene with Mitchell and Annie discussing snowglobes rather poignantly concludes that Annie will be stuck in her form forever. Again, the script is exploring the nature of Annie's existence and goes one further when she and Mitchell accidentally kiss to answer those pressing questions about whether she can actually feel both emotionally and physically.
...Lennox Kelly's performance must also be praised as he clings to the tree and makes that heart-breaking call to be accepted

A rather shocking double-whammy of a conclusion begins with Tully revealing to George that he is the werewolf that attacked him and cursed him. Whilst Tully obviously believes this will bring them both together, George is appalled. Tovey conveys this powerfully through facial expressions and body language. He's a very physical performer and it stunningly pays off in this scene. You genuinely feel sad for Tully because all he actually wants is to have a 'family' around him, just like George does. Ironically, just as George accepted Tully's superior knowledge about transformations, Tully just wants to be loved. Lennox Kelly's performance must also be praised as he clings to the tree and makes that heart-breaking call to be accepted and not be alone.

After George apologises to Mitchell and Annie, they settle down to watch a DVD of Casablanca. In perhaps one of the most disturbing scenes in the episode, the three friends watch dumbstruck as a naked man is seduced and killed by an unseen vampire that leaves its bloody footprints on the floor. A bit of home-made vampire porn courtesy of Lauren is offered as a challenge to Mitchell that he will never be able to avoid his true nature. And that's not the last of it, as we're provided with one final shock. George later goes off to the abandoned building in the woods that Tully found and finds Tully attempting suicide. He deliberates over whether to save him, eventually does, and they both transform into werewolves, fighting for dominance. The outcome, as in any battle between dominant males, is that one will be submissive to the other or be cast out, and the tables are turned with George now the victor and Tully reduced to victim. Very powerfully directed by Toby Haynes.

A stunning episode exploring the true natures of the characters and the masculinity of Tully, George and Mitchell, beautifully performed and scripted that definitely makes the series 'appointment to view'. It is difficult accept that this is being promoted as a comedy when it clearly is much more than that. It is black comedy that examines the fine line between the human and the monstrous, between good and evil.

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5 Responses to “BEING HUMAN - Episode Two”
  1. I think Lucy McG has nailed the subtext; this isn't about monsters at all, it's about people being people. If the characters were an addict, a schitzophrenic and an agoraphobic, or perhaps an abused woman (as I think we will find out), the series would be intense and very dark. Instead we have fantasy doing what it does best: taking the subjects we can't or won't talk about and placing them in an environment where they can be discussed.

    It's appointment viewing alright, even on this side of the Atlantic.

  2. This television series is better than some novels I have read for my degree.

  3. Spot on, Frank, again!! 'Being Human', in just two series episodes, has become the best, brightest and most exciting new TV show on the box in years!! This is absolutely what I want from my genre TV - good writing, great acting, superb characterisation...this is as close to faultless as I've seen outside some Dr Who episodes. I'm literally gasping to see the rest of the series. I'm glued to the screen, totally gripped, totally immersed...and that's great telly. Wonderful. It's hard to believe that this show and the dire 'Demons' (the failure of which has apparently cast a very dark cloud over not only the prospects of any other similar Saturday night family fantasy shows on ITV but also on the future of 'Primeval' beyond the next series - but that's another matter!) are made by the same species, let alone in the same country.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great episode - like the one before it, shame the actors are gonna be changing after this episode (see wiki) i think the original actors - especially annie (Lenora Crichlow) had real potential to build up their characters. Wikipedia also suggests a change in tone - fingers crossed itll stay as engaging as it has so far.

  5. Anonymous...I think you're getting slightly confused by the fact that they changed the cast after the pilot episode last year.

    I can't see anywhere on Wiki's 'Being Human' page that it says they'll be changing the cast mid-series. Producer Matthew Bouch did say they were lightening the tone a bit for THIS series after the pilot.

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