Appropriately for an episode set partly in a café, this felt like more of a bread and butter episode of Being Human – and yet, there are still elements in it to intrigue.
Chief among them is that pre-title sequence, which proves not only that Damien Molony looks seriously dodgy in a stuck-on moustache, but also that the BBC can rustle up a convincing historical setting out of a couple of period costumes and a stairwell.
It’s an inauspicious place for Fergus to deliver one of the most teasing lines of dialogue in the series so far: a roll call of eminent Old Ones that references not only vampires we‘ve already met, Ivan and Wyndham, but also several we haven’t. Of those remaining names, Hettie tickles the interest, while, if a certain agency website is to be believed, Mr Snow is someone we’ll be seeing a lot more of before the end of the series, in the guise of one of cult TV’s most ubiquitous actors and writers.
Still, despite the presence of Mark Williams’s horny soothsayer, Regus, this was an episode in which the story arc mostly took a back seat to more domestic matters: like what to do when nappies won’t pay for themselves, or how to get your end away when your flat is covered in hieroglyphics.
The answer, as it turns out, is resurrect a Goth J. K. Rowling wannabe as a vampire. Who knew it was that simple?
Full credit to the writing team – Hal and Tom have only been a partnership for two episodes now, and yet their double act is already proving one of the highlights of the show. Each, in their own way, is as out of step with modern life as the other.
Like all good rivals, they’re absolutely made for each other; so it’s pleasing to see the bromance step up a gear this episode, as macho posturing makes way for friendly competition – whether it’s comparing the horrors of jobs past, or ineptly competing for the number of the most self-centred woman in the room.
By the time the two of them reject the joys of The Real Hustle in favour of Antiques Roadshow, it’s clear that the show both is and isn’t the same.
One of the joys of Being Human remains how ironically self-aware it is about matters vampirical. So it’s a particular joy to observe Regus sporting his Team Edward t-shirt, or Michaela self-dramatise with all the deludedness of the aspiring vampire chick. If it’s a tortured soul in leather she’s after, does she not realise Mitchell left last series?
But while this episode may function as a placeholder – a chance for the new team to bond and establish themselves – that’s not to say it’s predictable.
When Fergus is killed, it’s a shock, as we’d have put money on him lasting to the end of the series. And then there’s the final scene, as actor James Lance walks out of the door marked Purgatory, looking every inch like a 1980s’ Simon Bates.
What ghastly punishments can he have in mind? Condemning Hal and Annie to an eternity of ‘Our Tune’? “And this latest request comes from George and Nina. It‘s ‘Bad Moon Rising’.”
If we say we’re more interested in him than in the ongoing story arc about the War Child, that’s not to denigrate the wider plot. It’s merely to assert that, as this episode proves, often Being Human most lives up to its title when it plays on a smaller scale.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 19th February 2012 on BBC Three.
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