After two very different but very strong episodes The Graveyard Shift feels as much like a warning as it does a title: just as with a real graveyard shift, this is an episode of long stretches where nothing much happens, punctured by sporadic moments of interest.
Hal, now part of the Honolulu Heights trio, is forced to learn how to be human and, as part of that, get a job. Like a square peg in a greasy spoon, he starts work at the backstreet caff with Tom, and it’s through his reaction to the tedium and ignominy (as he sees it) of work that we learn a little bit more about Barry’s belligerent bloodsucker.
Just a bit though. What we get to understand about Hal is sparse and drip-fed; skimmed off the surface of conversations. It makes sense not to completely strip Hal of his charisma and mystery so early on but none of what we’re given is particularly interesting because none of it is particularly surprising (except for the fact Hal would look great come ‘Mo-vember’).
The one big piece of information that is interesting – and it’s a doozy that’ll likely prove pivotal later on – isn’t treated with quite the grand reveal you’d expect it to be. Hopefully it’ll be explored more in the future.
The Graveyard Shift has all the right ingredients – Critchlow, Socha and Molony’s performances are all excellent and don’t deviate from the high standard they’ve already set themselves, and scenes such as Tom and Hal competing at ‘courting’ or Annie sharing a particularly intimate memory with Regus (Mark Williams) are excellent – but the plot’s thinner than a poltergeist’s knickers, and so Jamie Mathieson’s script feels like a lot of great dialogue exchanges stitched together rather than one story flowing smoothly.
Much like Hal in the cafe, the uneven pace may leave you wondering where all this is going.
It doesn’t help that new character Michaela (think the love-child of a Goth and one of those people who hang out in Starbucks all day with an iPad) is a pain in the neck. She’s meant to be, and Laura Patch does a fantastic job of making her so, but you’re left wondering just why she’s so needlessly aggravating.
The final ten minutes are extremely good, but let down by the preceding fifty, giving you the feeling that the show has been dragging its heels for an hour. It’s an episode which is full of good moments but they don’t stack up to the sum of their parts, resulting in a mixed bag which lacks the bloody frenetics of Eve of the War and the quick-fire comedy of Being Human 1955, and comes to rest in a no-man’s land: not bad, just not as good as we’ve come to expect Being Human to be.
Don’t worry though, there’s enough foreshadowing and tasty tidbits tucked away in this episode to ensure that you’ll be back next week, and with five episodes to go Series 4 still has plenty of room to knock our socks off. Given what’s happened so far, we fully expect it to.
Airs at 9pm on Sunday 19th February 2012 on BBC Three.
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