Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2011-01-31 Entry: "being human - "Episode 1""

Starting a long run of "vampire" shows, we begin with a BBC show from a couple of years ago that only made it to air due to fan support...

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (1080i, in the slightly bizarre BBC fashion).
Audio: Dobly Stereo.

Mitchell - Aidan Turner
George - Russell Tovey
Annie - Lenora Crichlow

We open on a dead girl giving a voice over. Then we're back in World War One with Mitchell, and some vampires. And we establish the first interesting thing here - vampires don't care about sunlight. The girl? She's a ghost, haunting the house where she died, but no-one can see her or hear her. Mitchell can't control his bloodlust (killing a girl during sex). And then there's George, who survived a werewolf attack when he should have died, but now he too is a werewolf.

Mitchell and George work in the same hospital. And they move into the house of the ghost (Annie) without knowing she's there. Annie likes making tea (that she can't drink) and the flat is filled with old mugs of tea. It's a fun character quirk - she's finally able to touch things and be seen occasionally by normal people and she likes feeling helpful.

Now, it's slightly distracting that this is the first episode when it really isn't. It glosses over the introductory stuff where they meet because for unknown reasons the BBC haven't released the original pilot for this show; we just get the recast first series and plenty of exposition to try and gloss over the missing episode (the one that successfully got the show picked up for a series).

Ah, vampires don't appear on video cameras... but they do cause static in the picture. And there's Herrick, the head of the local vampires... or at least, he gets a mention here as one of his minions, Seth, has come to the hospital for "recruitment" purposes. Mitchell's making the hospital out-of-bounds to Herrick... and he's no longer drinking blood. It's George's "time of the month" and he's got to lock himself in the hospital basement to avoid hurting anyone.

Except they're doing renovations on the basement room and time's running out for him to make alternative plans. George won't take the werewolf back to the house... but running around the woods trying to find somewhere to change is a comedy of errors of families picnicking, kids having sex, people walking dogs and creepy guys looking for sex... so back to the house is the only option. Annie's clearly disturbed by watching the transformation (and it certainly sounds pretty painful).

The house is a mess, and their landlord (and Annie's ex-fiance) is coming to visit. The guy's a creep but at the moment Annie's death is a nasty accident (she fell down the stairs in the dark). Herrick's visiting Mitchell at the hospital - Herrick was the vampire in the forest who turned Mitchell. Herrick has a plan... to take vampires public and offer immortality to everyone... yeah, that's a good idea!

There's a memorial at the hospital for the girl who Mitchell killed - Lauren - except he didn't actually kill her... he turned her, and she visits George in the hospital to try and scare and eat him... but he's a werewolf and doesn't exactly scare easily. Mitchell claims he's not like George - he can't control what he is... so then making a date with the nurse who wants to go out with him probably isn't a good idea!

Annie invites the fiance around to fix the leaky tap so she can talk to him... but when he shows up, he can't see her. Meanwhile, George finds out that Mitchell's out on a date and rushes to try and save the girl... but Lauren shows up before George does. Lauren wants to give into her bloodlust, and that persaudes Mitchell that he should call off the date before he gets out of control. Lauren's ripped the girl's throat out... but the only way to save her is for Mitchell to turn her... and he can't do that... he won't make anyone else like him...

It's a pretty good set-up - getting all the basics across without making those who barely remember the pilot (or haven't seen it) feel like they've missed anything. They've left plenty of stuff hanging for the series - what's Herrick's big plan, what's Lauren going to do, what's going on with Annie's creepy ex-fiance, who's the mysterious guy in the hat watching George wash up - so they've got places to go. Herrick doesn't really feel all that villainous at the moment, but Lauren's got smokin' hot vampire seductress down pat and she's clearly going to be trouble.

Vampire checklist: Can't be seen by video cameras, can withstand daylight, drink blood (but appear to be able to go cold turkey and survive without it), turned by other vampires (by drinking their blood). There was no sign of holy items that I recall, so we don't yet know if crosses are an issue, and methods of killing them haven't come up yet.

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