‘Being Human’: Series 5 Episode 3 spoiler-free review

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After a couple of episodes in which the series arc has been at the forefront of things, it’s a change of pace this week, and a story, written by series regular Jamie Mathieson, which features neither Hatch nor Crumb.

In their place come two plots strands, both of them as comic-pathetic as you’d expect in Being Human, but neither of them entirely successful.

In the first, Tom – doe-eyed and dutiful as ever – seeks a father figure in the form of former television personality, and fellow werewolf, Larry Chrysler (The Mighty Boosh star Julian Barratt). Of the two story threads, it is the one which feels more conventionally Being Human – the series having long had a suspicion of media charlatans, dating way back to Annie’s encounter with a dodgy spirit medium in Series 2.

Larry – posturing and delusional – is an unworthy sage to Tom, whose innocent trusting nature may constantly be on the rack, but, we are reminded, is also a redemptive quality, for him and the group, in the face of so much cynicism and horror.

In the second plot strand, Hal meets up with a Georgian lady ghost with abandonment issues and a distinctly Jane Austen vibe. But, this being Being Human, what follows is closer in tone to 24 Hour Party People than it is to period drama.

Lady Mary, the Georgian ghost in question, is harbouring a secret from her sometime suitor, Lord Hal, and he, in turn, is not being entirely straight with her. But if this ever has pretensions of being a comedy of manners, it abandons them in favour of something which seeks to channel the anarchic spirit of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

It’s a storyline which gives more good material to Kate Bracken’s Alex, in confronting her with a possible future. But, unusually for Being Human, it does not quite skewer the tone. Lady Mary may be the sort of spirit who introduces herself not with a bang but a simper, but the irony needs to be more mordant and dripping than this.

As Austen-Whithouse mash-ups go, this is one that could only have been improved by the presence of Phil Davis. However, in his absence, Steven Robertson’s Dominic Rook goes some way to stealing the show with comparatively little screen time, and a quiet portrayal of a man driven by increasing desperation and fear. Robertson’s performance may be one of the best things about the programme at the moment, but he and the rest of the series arc are very much in the margins.

Airs at 10pm on Sunday 17 February 2013 on BBC Three.

> Order Series 5 on DVD on Amazon.

> Buy the complete Series 1-4 boxset on Amazon.

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