Friday, 16 March 2012
What We Have Been
Since we're about to start gearing up for the finale, this is probably a good moment for me to put down some thoughts on the latest season of Being Human.
Actually, the sheer fact that I haven't felt any need to say anything following the season premiere is probably a fairly major clue on my opinions, but to remove all ambiguity: m'eh.
First, the good news: neither Mitchell nor George has proved irreplaceable. Indeed, given the narrative arc of season three practically demanded Mitchell die, and since Russell Tovey became increasingly annoying with each passing year, the cast regeneration was entirely welcome (though I do both miss Nina and feel annoyed that she died off-screen). Damien Moloney is excellent as the necessarily anally-retentive Hal, and Michael Socha, despite my initial fears, has proven himself capable of being, if not exactly leading man material, more than capable of propping up his end of an ensemble. In fact, at this point, it feels if anything as though Lenora Critchlow is the sore thumb here. Maybe it's because no-one's ever really known what to do with Annie ever since she first gained closure in Season 1.
Not to worry on that score, though, since it looks like this will be her last season. I can't see any other reason why the writers would be happily pissing over previous seasons in order to give her a new door, if not to have her walk through it?
(Speaking of re-writing the rules, fuck off with this "toxic werewolf blood" nonsense, would you? It being poisonous to vampires was just about feasible. It being almost instantly fatal and toxic enough to burn skin? Bollocks to that. Werewolf blood is in danger of becoming, as someone pointed out on the SFX forum, of becoming Being Human's sonic screwdriver).
It's comparisons to the past that is doing all the damage, actually. It's not that I'm not enjoying this season - there's been moments of both comedy and horror that are right up there with the show's best scenes - it's that it feels like a gigantic step back. Season 2 was about the effects of a power vacuum, the violence we'll do in order to keep a greater peace, and the consequences of actions we had no choice in (also, there was a ghost in it). Season 3 was about the struggle for redemption and the danger in believing you can chart your own progress on that front, as well as about the nature of family and the impossible balancing act of protecting one's family in the supernatural world (also, there was a ghost in it). Even the first season, the most scattershot of the three, occasionally became about the nature of monsters in contemporary society (including domestic abusers, which meant that there was a ghost in it who actually had some kind of point to her).
This season was about how funny it would be if a vampire and a werewolf lived together, especially if there was a ghost in it.
There's nothing automatically wrong with deciding to take a less serialised approach, of course. One just needs to watch Season 8 of The X-Files to see how much new life can be breathed into a series by just playing around rather than hitching everything into some overlong and increasingly complicated plot.  Neither though is it automatically a recipe for success, though, especially when trying it apparently involves a cliched "saviour" plot, re-writing the rules for two thirds of your supernatural creatures (as well as introducing a new one with no more fanfare than if Tom's cafe had started stocking a new sandwich filling), and building up for six episodes to a reveal so horribly obvious I spent the whole time desperately hoping it would be a bluff.
I guess that sums up this whole season to date: there's nothing going on except what you can see. Which, it turns out, isn't quite enough.
 I know a lot of people don't like Season 8, but I'm of the opinion that in retrospect it's easily in the top three X-Files seasons in terms of overall enjoyment, mainly because once the mystery is removed by the knowledge that the show would damn near snap under the weight of its own accumulated bull-shit, all you have is po-faced posturing. Plus, as I say, bullshit.