Monday, 20 February 2012
Being Human - Series 4 Episode 3 - The Graveyard Shift - Review
What’s the Story?
With baby Eve to feed, Tom and Annie ask a reluctant Hal to get a job. Working alongside Tom at the ‘Café on the Corner’, the episode explores Tom and Hal’s burgeoning friendship. Meanwhile, still unsure of how much she can really trust her new flatmates, Annie asks Regus to help her protect Eve.
What’s the Verdict?
The pace is slowed considerably this week as things seem to go ‘back to basics’ in Being Human, with a relatively low key episode compared to some of the action-packed hours that have gone before. Despite the laugh out loud moments last week, ‘The Graveyard Shift’ was the lightest episode of Series 4 so far and I have to admit that for the first twenty minutes or so, I wasn’t sure about it. Not that it wasn’t entertaining, but not an awful lot seemed to be happening. By the time we got to the end of the episode however, I’d revised my opinion. I still think that comparatively not a lot actually happened, but what did happen ended up making a huge difference to the relationships and bonds between the characters.
I think the reason I was struggling at first was that without all of the action and peril, it was far more noticeable that the three characters didn’t really know each other yet. Series 1 started with Mitchell and George already close friends but the lingering suspicion between Hal and Tom made for a very different dynamic. I’m really glad that the writers decided to acknowledge this problem and show that despite her desire to keep the rooms full, even Annie was still having doubts and still missing ‘the family’ she used to have. Although it initially seemed slow to me, I also realised that this episode was tonally similar to Series 1, and by the credits I was satisfied that we do have three strong individual characters that are starting to click together very well indeed.
Hal and Tom’s burgeoning bromance continues to delight and entertain in equal measure. Socha and Molony are both doing a brilliant job and putting them together in the café was a good decision. Molony has a disquieting focus and calm, by keeping things still and intense he maintains a constant sense of danger and is quite compelling to watch, with the ability to deliver a great deadpan one-liner too.
Pairing Tom and Hal at work allowed for some fun role reversal and for the characters to discover some common ground. Hal found with surprise that his old- fashioned values were met by Tom’s ideas on ‘courting‘, culminating in their amusing disposal of Nuts magazine (quite right too boys!). Then there was Tom, suddenly finding that despite Hal’s advanced years, he knew more about something than Hal did, even if it was just flipping a burger and scraping fat from an oven! Their attempts at wooing Laura Patch’s Michaela were hilarious but perhaps more importantly, very endearing, so you couldn’t help but root for them both.
I can see Goth Michaela polarising opinion, sitting a little too close to the line between ‘quirky-funny’ and ‘quirky-annoying’. The character wasn’t written with much light and shade and though she made me laugh on a couple of occasions, she was a bit too much of a stereotype for me personally. I would have been more convinced if she had shown fear rather than lust when she saw Hal’s fangs, but with the episode clearly designed to keep things fun and for laughs where possible, I can see why they went this route with the character. Still, if I’m honest, I could have done without her ‘kerr-azy vampire hair’, there one second and gone the next!
It also looks like we may be getting somewhere with Annie and her powers. It was nice that Mark Williams’ Regus pointed out to her that perhaps she shouldn’t be wandering around with baby Eve, in full view of the vampires, a plot point I’m sure a few of us may have been shouting to her too! By the end of the episode however, Annie seemed to have not only accepted Tom and Hal as her new ‘boys’, but we finally saw a glimpse of the poltergeist powers she possesses. With a knife stuck in the ceiling as a reminder, hopefully this is just the beginning of Annie rediscovering her strength.
With no Cutler this week, it was left to Anthony Flanagan’s Fergus to provide the menace, a role he seemed to be relishing. His history with Hal (or Lord Harry) was interesting (& great to hear the references to the likes of Ivan and Daisy). In some ways it was a shame to see him staked so soon but Being Human has never dragged its feet and with Fergus out of the way, perhaps now we will see Cutler stepping up his own plans.
When the credits came I felt that Chapter Two of Being Human has now started rolling into action. They have taken their time to build up the characters and establish the relationships which will hopefully pay off now for the rest of the series. Ultimately, The Graveyard Shift was a fun and humorous character study, largely abandoning the main story arc and starting our trio on the road from suspicion to friendship and exploring the everyday struggle of being human.
I was tempted to go with the sheer genius of the Nuts magazine disposal scene and discussion of ‘courting‘; their equally inept attempts to ‘chat up’ Michaela; Tom’s adorable reaction when Hal was ‘babbling’; or our new heroes first fight together. I particularly liked that as the fight began, they stood virtually in the same position and stance as George, Nina and Annie in the final shot of the last series.
Ultimately however, I’ve gone for the moment I found the most touching. Hal and Tom sitting at opposite sides of the sofa, switching from ‘The Real Hustle’ to ‘Antiques Roadshow’. A simple moment that might not have any meaning whatsoever for occasional viewers of the show. For us fans however, it said so much with so very little. The time of ‘The Real Hustle’ is past, as Annie nestled between them I think she realised this too, but still the show goes on and the very choice of the The Antiques Roadshow as ‘their’ programme is so appropriate for the old-fashioned Hal and Tom.
Tom - ‘It’s not stealing if it’s a big shop, McNair said’
Annie - ‘I used to blush when I took a free sample!’
Hal - ‘Tom, are you sure you haven’t killed me already, it feels a lot like hell’
Annie - ‘You do know I’m dead, huh? So you can try biting me but all you’re gonn
a get is an ice-cream headache’.
Tom - ‘Someone’s left something on one of the tables’
Hal - ‘God not more sick!’
*cut to Nuts Magazine on the table*
Tom - Do you want it then?
Hal - why would I want it? You have it.
Tom- I don’t want it, it’s demeaning to women.
Hal - We should throw it away.
*gingerly picks it up through plastic & puts it in the bin*
Tom - What must their mothers think?
Hal - What?
Tom - Those ladies on the cover, showing everything to everyone. No-one’ll want to court them.
Hal - Sorry, “court” them?
Tom - You know what I mean.
Hal - Only because I was around during the Coronation. No-one says court anymore.
Tom - No, they use “chatting up”. But we don’t say that because it’s disrespectful to the lady, even if they are in the nuddy.
Tom - ‘I like your tights, you look like a bee and I like bees’
Hal - ‘I cannot sleep in a barn. Or a tent. Or a caravan or anywhere without central heating, carpets and Radio 4. That should be on my list, really it should’.
Hal - ‘Look, I’m not sure what you were used to when George and er…er…Tina..were around but -
Annie - ‘-their names were Nina, George and Mitchell. And this was their home. And they were my friends. And they would have listened to me’.
Hal - ‘I used to ride a horse once. I had a sword, I was respected, better than that I was feared. Peasants had their backs flayed for looking at me funny.’
Tom - ‘Are you all right, Hal?’
Hal - ‘It was brutal, but it worked. We had order, we had respect, and now we have this.’
Tom - ‘Ok, then mate. Let’s go in the back and have a bit of a chat, shall we? Come on.’
Hal - ‘And I had a shield! A red one!’
Michaela - ‘I assume you’re taking the piss?’ *points at Team Edward T-shirt*
Regus - ‘Well, they started it’.
*Regus comes in with the hoover’
Regus - ‘I think I missed a few bits of them, under the sofa’
Regus - ‘Most of my friends are arseholes. There’s a couple of them in the hoover’.
Michaela - ‘Reborn into this dark infinity with crimson fuel and eyes of ebony’.
Regus - ‘Have you heard her poetry? It’s really good. It nearly rhymes and everything’.
Tom - ‘What we watching?’
Hal - ‘I dunno. Something about con men’.
Tom - ‘Anything else on?’
No Cutler this week and no sightings of The Woman, what are they up to? Who is the mysterious 70s ghost that looks set to stir things up next week? Will we be seeing Regus and Michaela again? (I suspect so!). The gang were surprisingly happy to let them both depart knowing they were off to kill people, better the devil you know? Will Cutler now take complete control of the vampires or will Hal still be pressurised into taking the position? How will the Old Ones react now that we know Hal is one of their own and what other misdemeanours lurk in his past? Does Eve have a nemesis as Regus suggests? Will we be meeting someone with a burnt arm in the not too distant future? And will Tom ever get to build his swimming pool?!
Watch Being Human, Sundays 9pm BBC3 to find out. Follow @bbcbeinghuman on twitter and check out the Being Human blog at www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/beinghuman for chat, some excellent behind the scenes videos and exclusive web content. As ever, comments welcome below or tweet me @LikeTheMonth_
Annie - ‘Can’t believe that I’m a thief now, common criminal. I feel sick. Can I even be sick?’