Views from the Stalls and Views from the Sofa - My reviews and thoughts on all things theatre and television. Follow me on Twitter @LikeTheMonth_

Monday, 24 January 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 1 : 'Lia' - Review

My love of this show is one of the things that has inspired me to create this blog so it is only right that it should be the subject of my first proper post.

What's the story?

The show that singlehandedly justifies the existence of BBC Three is back and possibly better than ever before. After the heartbreaking Series Two finale saw Annie dragged to purgatory, this series opener centres on Mitchell's quest to bring her back where she belongs. Crossing over into purgatory himself, he is guided by the mysterious Lia, where he must confront his own past. Meanwhile, George and Nina prepare for their first transformation in their new home of Barry Island and we are introduced to new father and son werewolves McNair and Tom and the macabre practice of werewolf cage fighting!

What's the Verdict?

Wow, Being Human is back with a bang! After criticisms that Series 2 was a bit too dark, pre-publicity promised us that Series 3 would restore the balance of horror and humour. On the evidence of opening episode, 'Lia', the show has done just that, balancing the terrifying and tragic with the genuinely funny, in a way many shows attempt but few achieve. The opening scene showed expertly how to switch between the two tones, from their assurances that the house was not haunted, to George's Sybil Fawlty impression to Mitchell's despair when Annie made her first appearance of the episode. From that point on I knew the episode wasn't going to disappoint.

In previous series, much of the light relief has been down to Annie but with the character absent for the majority of the episode George and Nina ably took on the mantle, hopefully evidence that each character will be given their share of tragedy and humour this series. Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan work so well together and I am delighted Keenan has finally been promoted to series regular. Frankly, after watching the hilarious 'seduction' scene and the madcap prison break, how could anyone not love them?!

We were also introduced to two very different werewolves in the form of McNair (Robson Green) and son Tom (Michael Socha - brother of Misfits actress Lauren, possibly the most uncannily alike brother and sister duo I have ever seen!). It's always difficult to introduce new characters into an already established show but these two look to be an interesting new addition. Robson Green proved any doubters wrong with a solid performance as hardman McNair and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this pairing. I assume we won't be seeing any more of Paul Kaye as the deliberately over the top ringleader of the cagefighting group, Vincent. This world was wonderfully realised, from the spectators in suits and bow ties to the scantily glad girls counting down to full moon. It was nice to see a very different band of vampires to the suave, brooding vamps like Ivan and Mitchell and it was a surprise to see Vincent literally bite the dust so soon. This served as a definite statement of intent from McNair and Tom though and leaves us to worry about what will happen if/when they meet Mitchell.

Speaking of everyones favourite wearer of fingerless gloves, Mitchell's story in purgatory was wonderfully written. Lacey Turner was a million miles away from her Eastenders alter ego and really excelled as the flirtatious, sarcastic and enigmatic Lia. Turner had a wealth of brilliant lines and delivered them perfectly, really coming into her own during the train carriage confrontation with Mitchell. Being Human never lets us forget that our hero's can sometimes be anything but heroic and Mitchell's despair here was heartbreaking but necessary after his massacre in Series 2. It looks like the 'Box Tunnel 20' will be playing a major role in the series and I'm glad that it hasn't been forgotten.

The return of Annie could easily have been dragged out for a few episodes, if not the whole series, but Being Human has never been a show to drag it's feet and personally I found it a relief to see Annie back making tea by the end of the episode. Her monologue could in lesser hands have been cheesy and cringeworthy, but such is the depth of the writing and performances in this show that it became beautifully poetic. I defy anyone not to have a smile on their faces, watching our 'awesome foursome' having fun together again (and I particularly loved Annie's unimpressed expression upon seeing the mural!). Watching those scenes you can't help wishing they could remain that way forever, but of course as Annie says, outside the monsters are prowling and the presence of Lia's funeral grounded the scenes in the reality that things will never be quite normal for our gang.

Overall then, a brilliant opening episode that has hopefully set the standard for what is to come. Lia's revelation has added a sense of jeopardy and mystery to the show and I'm certainly left hoping that all is not as it seems! Welcome back Being Human!

Best Scene -

So many to choose from in this episode, Russell Tovey crying remains one of the most heartbreaking sights on television, the guest stars continue to make a massive impression even in small roles (hello and goodbye Sean Hancock) and Sinead Keenan's wonderful facial expressions while fending off the transformation made a desperate and terrifying situation laugh out loud funny.

But despite the many contenders, Mitchell coming face to face with his victims in the tunnel surpassed them all. The unflinching nature of the dialogue, Aidan Turner's remorseful Mitchell and Lacey Turner's powerful performance and final revelation may well make this one of the scenes of the series.

Best Lines -

'It's you, me and Count Dupree upstairs' - Nina to George, getting her own back for last series 'Inch High Private Eye' line!

'You chose the door. Next time pick one where you're building an orphanage on the other side' - My pick of Lia's many wonderfully sarcastic lines!

'What are you doing? Why have you got a chicken on a string?' - George to newcomer Tom.

'No this isn't anything to do with ...what was going on....' - Bob (Torchwoods' Kai Owen) when a police officer opens the cell door to find George howling on all fours.

'The time and cause of your death have already been set, but there are things that need to happen first. You see, you're the final piece in someone else's story. They need to complete their journey and in order to do that they have to kill you. You're gonna be killed by a werewolf. A wolf shaped bullet. Bang.' - Lia to Mitchell. Insert own DUN DUN DUH noise here.

Annie : 'Where are we? This isn't Bristol.'
Mitchell: 'No thats the other thing, we sort of moved to Wales'.
Annie: 'Oh I wanna go back.'
Mitchell: 'To Bristol?'
Annie: 'No to purgatory.'  - Just genius.

'In this little enclave of the lost, I witnessed the very best of being human.' - Indeed Annie, indeed.

'Stake and chips anyone?' - Vincent's emotional final words.
Questions -

Oh, so many questions! Most importantly though, is Lia a liar? Or will a werewolf really kill Mitchell? When she says they are playing a long game, how long exactly have they been playing it? Did 'the other side' only want Annie last series to lure in Mitchell? Why does Lia seem to be pushing Annie and Mitchell together? Do Nina and George have the same 'spidey-sense' for each other as McNair and Tom? And finally, do I hear the howling of little werecubs or is it just a fun red herring?

Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog for chat and behind the scenes videos at and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter!

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