Thursday 16 February 2012

bad moon....

A little while ago, I started watching a charming British sitcom that was screened on BBC3. It has a killer pitch: a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost share a flat. What do they do? Well, they mainly make endless cups of tea. “Being Human” was very popular (by BBC3 standards) and spawned a US remake (the posters for which, when I saw them in New York last year, featured the pitch prominently. Well, it is a great pitch. They also featured a rakishly handsome vampire… well, if it ain’t broke…).

As is often the way though, as the series got bigger, I started to drift away. It wasn’t so much that it was becoming popular – I wasn’t on board right at the start, after all – it was more that the plots themselves were becoming bigger. The domesticity was, for me, getting lost as the vampire and werewolf politics got bigger and bigger and instead of tea being made, whole scenes were now awash with blood. It’s not that I object to the blood, it’s just that I thought the initial pitch was much more interesting and original. After all, vampires v werewolves has hardly ever been done…. *yawns*

I sat all the way through the third series when it was screened last year, but increasingly this wasn’t for me. I didn’t even notice the fourth series was starting until I spotted that it fell into the convenient little gap in my Sunday evening before the new series of True Blood started (C. loves True Blood… for some reason she finds Alexander Skarsgard irresistible….). So I sat and watched.

At the very beginning of the programme, the BBC displayed the hashtag #BEINGHUMAN and the voiceover guy encouraged us to tweet our thoughts as the programme was going on. Well, I thought it was shit, and tweeted as much. Writer Toby Whithouse cut his chops working on programmes like Doctor Who, and I’m starting to seriously wonder if the BBC actually have any writers who aren’t part of the Stephen Moffat/Russell T Davies/Mark Gatiss clique. What used to be a breath of fresh air is rapidly going stale. Russell Tovey (of Doctor Who and Sherlock fame.. .because apparently there aren’t many other actors around the place either) is capable of being brilliant, but he just seemed to spend most of this episode bellowing and BEING UPSET… just as he did in the Hounds of Baskerville episode of Sherlock earlier this year. The plot veered wildly around, occasionally zooming forwards in time several decades to a future that looked to have been stolen from “I Am Legend” with Welsh actors attempting American accents. New facts that seemed extraneous at the time were casually dropped into dialogue and then *gasp* became significant later on (obviously, werewolf blood is toxic to vampires. Who doesn’t know that already after three series? Tsk.). I thought it was ludicrous, culminating in a scene where George, Tovey’s character and a werewolf, managed a partial transformation after STARING REALLY HARD at a picture of the full moon. Well it stands to reason, after all, we all know that pictures of the moon can cause local tidal anomalies….especially REALLY BIG PICTURES.

…a quick look at the hashtag comments on Twitter quickly revealed that I was apparently in a minority of one in disliking what I was seeing. Literally every other person on there was GUSHING about what they were seeing.


I thought that Twitter was where the lynch mobs came out and identified candidates for the latest witch hunt…. What’s with all this positivity? If you read a comments thread underneath a TV review on a newspaper online – or, indeed, under ANY article published online – then you usually only see a torrent of complaints (the BBC “have your say” threads are one obvious example of this where people never get tired of complaining that their licence fee has been spent on x, y or z….but you can pretty much pick anything online and see much the same…except maybe the recipe pages of the Guardian, which are a blissful haven and a surprisingly useful resource for tips on how to make the best damson gin or beef stew….).

When did Twitter get so positive? What happened to all the snark?

And over something so crap, too? What a missed snark opportunity.

People are weird.

As a footnote, in spite of deciding that I wasn’t going to bother with Being Human any more, I actually watched the next episode too (it is such a convenient TV watching slot in our house). It was lots better. I didn’t bother with the hashtag this week, mind. Maybe they all hate it now.


  1. I'm just going to um, stare at a picture of the moon. Yes. That is what I'm going to do.

  2. Um, a cheery "hello" to those of you coming here via the link that the BBC have kindly put up on the Being Human website. I have two additional comments to add to the above:

    1) If you still love this show, then good for you.

    2) You'll notice that I'm still watching it.....

    That's all.

  3. I agree. All the little things that made this series so exceptional have been eaten away by bigger and bigger plot lines.
    I thought the first episode of series 4 was awful and nearly gave up on the show altogether.

    But the second episode is a real step back to the "good ol' days". The second episode, although awash with hints as to how overwhelming the plot line is soon to become, has managed to recapture something very British and wonderful that was evident at the beginning of their run. Too much force fed plot is what you watch American TV for (and American TV has it's moments of glory too)... but it's not what you watch a proper good British show for.

    You don't have to fight for recommissioning on the BBC with ridiculous plot lines. That's why we pay our TV licence, to be heard as an audience.
    And as an audience member I say encore to the subtlety and down with the overbearing plot. Not so much rollercoster as being dragged through the corrupted mythology backward.

  4. I think the main reason George was able to transform is because he was taken on the 3rd night of the full moon (3 'full' moons a month, one where werewolves transform is the middle night) so he still had the force of the moon acting but not as powerful as usual

  5. Not going to try justifying most of episode 1 because I think you have perfectly valid arguments (though I enjoyed it well enough myself). The one thing I'll say for it though is that they had a pretty sharp change to make, and quickly: i.e. be rid of George and Nina, and establish the playing field for Hal and Tom to step into the holes left by the departures of Tovey and Turner (lol never realised how perfect their names are).
    Incidentally, I think they had to go somewhere other than tea drinking (and into the vampire v. were-wolf stuff) pretty much straight after season 1 because, let's face it, Mitchell had already dragged them into vampire politics. And if Baby Eve wasn't important somehow she'd be annoying. If she was removed we'd be suspicious, or feel cheated of a fitting explaination. Having Annie bounce around without someone there to guide her back to tea making would, likewise, have seemed rediculous... so though I see your point, I'm not sure what a better alternative would have been?
    Anyway, love that people are posting on this, and the fact that the BBC linked it! Go Being Human and Fans for being independant thinkers who allow for other people's opinions.

  6. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Sarah.... lots of good points, but I will pick you up on the one about all those characters leaving. My view is that the option is always there to call it a day rather than drag the plot along to squeeze in some replacement actors and to try to keep the story moving. Maybe it had just run its course? Why drag it out?

    That said, I do think it has picked up since that first episode, and I like Tom (and currently find him far more interesting and less annoying than George was becoming).

    That picture of the moon though Fullmetal... nice try, but I'm not having it!

  7. by the way.... come on people. Is no one else writing blogs linking to that BBC page? I can't still be top link, can I?

    Welcome, by the way...!

  8. also, the twitter hashtag is still the source of some of the *least* insightful commentary on the programme. OMG! Hal is an Old One, innit?

  9. I suppose I can see where you're coming from with the whole sci-fi trio business, but Gatiss did after all adapt and star in a television production of Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World; which couldn't really have been more different. Infuriatingly though you'll have to watch it in little bits on youtube should you choose to do so- can't find it any where else.
    I agree with you about how a lot of the originality of the show got eaten away at as the plotlines got bigger- I think it was inevitable from the start, but then so is the sludge you get at the bottom of a teacup when you start dunking biscuits in it and that's still a disappointment. I think the balance is being redressed now though which is great to see; the quirky comedy is back and I'm glad to see that the relationship between Tom and Hal is quite unlike the reltionship between Mitchell and George. Cutler is also a revelation.
    Haha yes I quite agree about the hashtag too- I cannot for one moment concieve of an explanation as to why someone would broadcast such a painfully un-insightful comment.

  10. A quick update for you: I'm still watching, albeit a couple of episodes behind on my Sky+.... I thought it was getting better and that the relationship between Tom and Hal - as mentioned above - is getting really good. Tom in particular is a great character. The last episode I watched was the one with Kirby, the other ghost, and I thought it was awful. Not because it was a bad idea, but because they made the decision to toss it away in a single episode rather than let it play out over longer, and perhaps as a result, they cast a most unsuitable actor to ham it up instead of letting his malevolence brew over a longer period of time, leaving us wondering for longer over his motivations. Anyway, still watching...although not reading the hashtag anymore. Am I *still* linked off the BBC website?

  11. Usually, the consensus is to find someone to pick on and snarkbomb that poor sod.

    It's no that they were being particularly positive or particularly negative. It's just that that day on Twitter, the target of the mass snarkbombing was you.

  12. Alex - what the hell are you talking about?

    Just watched the last episode: As I say in the main post, this show still works best at the most domestic level, and works the least well - in my opinion - when the plot is at its biggest. I very much like the interaction between Hal and Tom, and I like the new ghost, but casting Mark Gatiss? Oh please. Awful. All that warchild stuff just gets in the way of a good show.

    Seriously though Alex, what the hell are you talking about? No one was snarkbombing me, they were far too busy gushing uncritically at the show unfolding in front of them.

  13. at least we didn't get a tearful reunion between Annie, Mitchell and George. We were spared that.

  14. Oh, and as you can see, the vast majority of comment on here via the BBC site has been open-minded to someone else's point of view (I had no feedback via twitter at all when I used the hashtag). Still not sure what Alex is driving at, but everyone else has played very nicely.