A werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost walk into an apartment. No, there's not a punchline, that's the premise of a BBC show that's being imported to the
Over 90 years ago Mitchell (Aidan Turner) was turned into a vampire on the battlefields on WWI Europe. Today he finds himself sharing a flat with George (Russell Tovey) who was bitten by a werewolf six months earlier. The apartment itself is haunted by Annie (Lenora Crichlow) who fell down a flight of stairs a little while back and woke up to find herself dead, invisible, and unable to communicate with anyone. Being supernatural creatures, Mitchell and George can see and hear Annie, which is a great relief to her, and the three become the best of friends.
Things aren't so simple however. While Mitchell can go out in the daylight he does struggle with his urges to drink blood, and George has to lock himself away one evening a month so that he won't kill anyone. It's hard to live a normal life under circumstances like that, but the alternative is being hunted like a monster.
The three all have different personalities, but generally they get along well. Annie is still in love with her fiancée (who own the flat but moved out after Annie died) but hates his new girl friend, George just wants to be as normal as possible, and Mitchell just wants to avoid the vampire group that lives in their city. Circumstances have a way of interfering however. A fellow werewolf with a different outlook on being a lycan tracks George down, the vampires are planning something and are forcing Mitchell to choose sides, and Annie needs to find out what she needs to accomplish before she moves on.
This is one of those shows that gets better as it goes, with each episode being better than the previous one. It starts out a little bit odd... there's no introduction to how the three came together or why, it just gives viewers the basics and starts with the first story. That's probably because there are only six episodes in this first season. That's the show's greatest weakness because the overall plot zips along at breakneck speed and the characters don't have much time to develop at a more natural pace. That makes some of the changes that the leads go through seem a bit abrupt and unbelievable. Annie, for instance, goes from being invisible to people, to being able to be seen, to transparent again and back to visible over these six episodes. Yeah, there are reasons given for each change, but it seems like the writers are just changing her to suit the current plot. That's not the case. It was all part of the characters evolution and it there had been three or four episodes between changes it would have seemed fine. That was just one of the compromises that had to be made when having such a short season. If you just assume some time passes between episodes, the show flows much better.
While I didn't like some of the changes that they made in vampires (they can go out in daylight, they are not especially strong, but they still have to ask permission before entering a house) the way werewolves are portrayed is excellent. One episode begins with George transforming along with narration describing what's happening to his body. He basically has a heart attack and his organs stop functioning as they double in size, his bones are broken and reformed, and he feels it all. The only time he stops screaming is when his lungs stop functioning and he can't manage a breath. The transformation is well done too, relying on makeup and prosthetics rather than cheap CGI. That was a great decision. Much of the budget SF and horror shows/movies are using CGI for their monsters and it doesn't look nearly as good as well crafted old school costumes.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Being a recent series, this show was recorded in HD and the 1080i (why not 1080p?) VC-1 encode looks very good but isn't a reference disc. There is a lot of detail in both the foreground and background, and the flesh tones and colors come across well on the screen. The image 'pops' a good deal, especially in the exterior scenes, but there is some loss of detail in low light scenes or areas where black predominates. There image is a bit soft at times, and there was just a tad of digital noise in a few places (the sky, large areas where one bright color is present) but this was very minor. Overall a nice looking show.
Viewers only get a stereo mix, which is fine for this type of show. Though there's three supernatural being as leads, there aren't many action sequences and the lack of a subwoofer channel isn't a big deal at all. The show makes some use of the front soundstage but the dialog is mainly centered on the screen, which is too bad. Aside from that the show sounds about average. There are optional English subtitles.
There are several light-weight extras included in the set (all in SD), but the main thing I was looking for, the pilot show that has a different cast, is sadly missing. Including that would have really made this an excellent set and its omission is a grave error.
So what do we get? There are a series of deleted and extended scenes, a couple of which were quite good and should have been included in the final show (I assume they were cut due to time), and a series of video diaries (15 min.) where the cast talks about the show between takes. There are also a series of short featurettes, which were all worth watching but none of them really raised above the 'mediocre' level. These include some character profiles, Vamping it Up (four minutes on the way vampires are portrayed in this series), and interview with creator Toby Whithouse (7 minutes) and bits on the locations, costumes, stunts, and a nice look at the werewolf transformation (which I though looked pretty good.) These run from 2-10 minutes.
When I first popped this show in, I thought it was a bad joke quickly cobbled together to take advantage of the current craze for nice vampires. A couple of episodes in however I realized that I was wrong and that Being Human was a well-crafted, carefully thought out show. The biggest problem is that the season is only six episodes long and the plot gallops a little too fast because of that. If you can look past that minor flaw this is a great show to get lost in. Highly Recommended.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.