Being Human returns for its fifth series, with a new vampire-ghost-werewolf trio and a new Big Bad but still with the same wicked sense of humour. At the end of last series, Annie (Lenora Crichlow) destroyed the vampiric Old Ones leaving behind newly ghost-ed Alex (Kate Bracken) to look after werewolf Tom (Michael Socha) and vampire Hal (Damien Molony). The trouble is, Hal has been on the blood again and must go cold turkey in order to prevent further destruction. Upon his release, the boys head to a hotel to find a job. At this hotel, there resides a rather nasty pensioner, Captain Hatch (Phil Davies) who is hiding a rather dark secret.
Right from the flashback opening scene, in which Hal tumbles with werewolf Lady Catherine, this new series of BBC Three's supernatural success seems determined to make the mythology bigger and badder than before. Whereas the origins of Being Human was very much about the three supernaturals trying to make their way in the world as quietly as possible, the new cast is given a much richer world to inhabit, one in which the Devil takes form as the Big Bad. It's a bold move and one that may alienate those of us who have been with Being Human from its humble beginnings. I am one such viewer but the fact that this is happening to a new cast makes it a little more palatable. Had it been Annie, Mitchell and George facing down the Devil, I would have been more than a bit peeved.
The new trinity, as they are so called, have a different dynamic to the original trio, particularly through the way in which the traits of the characters have shifted. Whereas Mitchell was feral and weakened by addiction, Hal is controlled, calculating and crippled by anxiety disorders. Alex is the complete opposite of Annie, feisty and confrontational where Annie was nurturing and maternal. Tom's good-natured manners make him perhaps the closest figure to his predecessor as George was quite similar, though George was never capable of quite so much violence. The three actors share an easy chemistry too; Hal and Tom were already a pre-packed comic double act but with the weariness of Alex in the mix, we're set for some great moments.
There were a fair few of these in the first episode, mostly thanks to Damien Molony's Hal who doesn't view going cold turkey as torture, but rather being forced to sit in a room that is very untidy. Molony was the highlight of the previous series, bringing a dangerous edge to his performance as the OCD-suffering vampire. He's well-matched though, particularly by Bracken; the scene in which Alex finally breaks down and yells at Hal for being complicit in her death marks one of the true strengths that the series has always managed. The shift between comedy and drama can sometimes be something that jars in an episode, an awkward shift in tone. Toby Whithouse, however, always manages to find the ideal moments to slide from one to the other, aided with assured performances from his cast.
One of the strongest elements of the series has always been in its Big Bads. While Jason Watkins' Herrick or Andrew Gower's Cutler cast a long shadows over any who follow them, having Phil Davies appear as the devil himself will surely dispel any lingering memories. He's an actor who specialises in nasty, slightly disturbing characters and he's already made quite the stamp on the first episode. There is also the mysterious Rook, last seen mopping up and taking Alex's body away and the accidentally-created vampire Crumb, a victim given the power to become the bully. It will be interesting to see how the hierarchy forms with the latter two characters, but you can guarantee they'll make worthy adversaries for our supernatural trinity.
It's an excellent start to the series, reminding us all of the reason why we loved the it in the first place, albeit with a larger canvas than there was before. If it continues in this vein, then we're in for a cracking series. Though this is Being Human, so it's natural to expect a couple of dodgy filler episodes. Next week's looks like it has a Tom/Hal food fight, which if their cafe conversations are anything to go by from last series, is reason enough to tune in.
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