‘Being Human’: Series 4 DVD review

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After the first three series provided British TV with some of the best television it’s seen in years, Series 4 arguably proved to be something of a disappointment.

It was always going to be tricky, with the loss of three principal cast members in Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan as Mitchell, George and Nina, but surprisingly it’s not the replacement characters that are the problem.

New vampire Hal (Damien Molony) is a marked departure from Mitchell; calm, mostly together and rubbish with the ladies; while we’ve already met werewolf Tom McNair (Michael Socha) in the previous series. We never got to see the bond between Mitchell and George form, but the journey that Hal and Tom go on, with their initial hatred turning into an uneasy and eventually warm and believable bond is well drawn and they’re a likable pair.

Unfortunately, it’s remaining original cast member Lenora Crichlow who lets the side down. Her performance has always been broad, and the writers have always struggled with writing stories for a ghost, but here any residual good faith towards early Annie falls away, and we’re left with an unconvincing character, given annoying, largely peripheral stories.

Sadly, it’s not just the writing for Annie that’s a problem; the stories on the whole this year simply aren’t good enough. They’re either lazy and trite (vampires-as-Nazis allegory), or completely misjudged (anything involving Mark Williams’ nerdy vampire virgin), while the ancillary characters are little more than poorly drawn caricatures.

There are good moments, however; notably the return of Craig Roberts’ teenage vampire Adam is the catalyst for the only episode that truly feels like vintage Being Human – and Mark Gatiss is icily brilliant as evil head-vampire Mr. Snow.

Extras: While the series itself might disappoint long-time fans, this DVD release is actually pretty solid.

Special features include three short prequels; one for Hal, one for Tom and one for the Old Ones, the vampiric legends who are the primary antagonists this year, and they’re all of high quality – the Old Ones prequel arguably being scarier and more effective than anything in the actual series.

There are also interviews with cast members Molony, Socha, Critchlow and Tovey, along with creator Toby Whithouse, plus six featurettes detailing various facets of the series, including Tovey’s last day on set and Adam’s return to the show. The cast are all likable and speak passionately about the show, while there are glimpses of how things work behind the scenes.

Alongside these, there are a few deleted scenes, none of which are particularly worthwhile, other than a hilarious one in which the crew decide to see how long they can let a take of Molony doing press-ups continue before he collapses into a heap.

Released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 23rd April 2012 by BBC Worldwide.

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