The transmogrification is complete. Across a brilliant fourth series Being Human clawed away its original cast with the kind of brutality and raw emotion of a lycanthropic transformation, and now at the beginning of its fifth year it stands before us in the moonlight as an entirely new beast.
So you’d expect it to feel a little different, more feral; a show finding its feet in a new landscape now that the final ties with its origins have been severed. But Series 5’s opener defies such expectations. It may look different, but the crucial DNA of Series 1 persists. From sexy start to ominous finish it feels quintessentially Being Human; as cheeky and macabre as running butt-naked through a graveyard.
Familiar then, yet far from tired. And that feeling is almost entirely down to a focus on the dynamics of the Honolulu Heights trinity: a group coping with evil on a supreme scale, but only once the job applications are written and a house-cleaning rota has been drawn up. It’s an impressive feat that Episode 1 can expand the borders of the show’s mythology so greatly (and there’s much revealed here that will have people talking) yet still fit in a jokes about Marigold gloves.
Would it work so well if it didn’t have three talented actors to work with Toby Whithouse’s guts n’ giggles script? Absolutely not.
Michael Socha’s Tom is even more adorable and anachronistic than you remember. Hal, all rock hard abs and regret, has lost none of his intensity. Damien Molony negotiates the haunted charm of the vampire so beautifully that even a trickle of saliva running down his lip at one point becomes engaging. As for new spook Alex, Kate Bracken is such a natural talent that it feels like she’s always been part of the cast. Though many will rightly still miss motherly Annie, Alex is a welcome breath of fresh ectoplasm, acting like a big sister to the boys while dealing with her own (after)life.
Episode 1 is an exercise in setting-up a new series and its arcs by splashing a blank canvas with as much blood as can be taken in by the human eye (even by BH’s standards this ep is slaughterous), and then drawing portentous shapes in the gore: the sinister old man rotting away in a dilapidated Welsh hotel, an office irritant akin to The Fast Show‘s Colin Hunt, a mysterious but immaculately-tailored organization, an ancient Evil with a capital E.
It feels like there are some familiar tropes from previous years being replayed – making it feel like a stirring up of the show’s blood, rather than a transfusion of new ideas – but it all flows so smoothly it’s hard to resist being carried away by it.
Like a recurring villain monologuing his diabolical plans, this is Being Human announcing its return and its intentions. Whether you’re a long-time fan or strong-stomached newcomer, it’s welcoming you to take a seat, sip from a hip flask of blood, and watch the chaos begin. Because if it holds all the promises it makes, this series is going to be devilishly good.
Airs at 10pm on Sunday 3 February 2013 on BBC Three.
Are you looking forward to Series 5? Let us know below…