Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Review of Being Human's 1x01: "Flotsam And Jetsam"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Toby Haynes

George (to Mitchell): “No, I’m sorry but we have to protect the household.”
Annie: “You’ve just smashed up the household.”

Let’s be honest, back in April 2008 two months after the original pilot for this show aired, was there anyone genuinely surprised that this would end up becoming a series? Out of all of the six would be made shows from pilots, this was the only one that you could actually envision running as an ongoing series.

That’s a good thing because the pilot was utterly brilliant and after the recent disappointment in Demons, it was high time that UK viewers got a decent supernatural drama. Just one other fear – the actors originally playing Annie, Mitchell and Herrick were replaced and the producers decided to opt for a more earthy feel.

This struck some massive alarm bells in my head because, extensive rewrites to any show can be alarming but not only does this first episode work brilliantly, but it’s an excellent starting point for those who missed the original pilot while staying relatively faithful to what has come before.

The first five minutes have Annie giving us the rundown on how everything came to be. Mitchell was in a World War and managed to get sired by Herrick. Mitchell’s dark urges as a result have seen him feeding and siring others, the most notably one being a girl called Lauren who factored big time in this episode.

Annie herself was happily engaged until fate took a nasty turn and she fell down the stairs to her death. Annie’s frustration and terror at not being seen by her loved ones at her own funeral is beautifully played. It also goes some way into explaining her penchant for making so much tea and joy when she is being seen by neighbours (even the one that called her a slag) and a surly pizza delivery guy.

George, who clashes with Annie frequently enough (her OCD drives him nuts, though he’s got control freak tendencies himself) was also happily engaged. Except in his case, a fateful encounter with a werewolf in Scotland turned him into and saw him have a breakdown. In the original pilot, he was forced to confront his fiancé and explain about being a werewolf.

I mention that because in this episode, Annie is confronted with her fiancé Owen coming to inspect George and Mitchell. Seeing as they’re the only people to stay in the house long enough, I suppose it was an inevitably. George’s bumbling through the sequence where he’s trying to get Annie to behave is amusing though.

The temptation for Annie to actually see her fiancé though does see her using a text to get Owen to fix the leaky tap George complained about. Unfortunately for Annie, Owen’s unable to see her and it doesn’t help that he moved on with Janey Harris, a woman that Annie isn’t particularly fond of.

One of the best moments in this episode is the scene where Annie and George discuss their losses. Although I did like Andrea Riseborough in the role, Lenora Crichlow does a brilliant job with Russell Tovey during that scene. You can really feel for Annie and George, especially given that the latter relapses and resumes being agoraphobic towards the end.

It’s not easy for George too having to suppress his werewolf nature. His little place in the hospital where he usually wolves out ends up being part of a new admin office and it’s pretty distressing to see him transform and tear the house apart as well. Then there’s also his friendship with Mitchell.

I think these two are probably good for keeping the other on the straight and narrow but unlike George; Mitchell’s dark urges aren’t only a month only period. Former sire Herrick seems determined to start a revolution and he spends a great deal of this episode trying to get Mitchell on board.

Out of all the persuasive methods going, Seth is arguably the least effective one. It’s clear that Mitchell can’t tolerate him and Seth does lack a certain effect. Nothing to do with the actor but probably more because Seth is pretty impersonal to Mitchell compared to both Herrick and Lauren.

Herrick also does his best to woo Mitchell but at least he plays on Mitchell’s good side. Still it’s nice to see that Mitchell doesn’t bite and there are some nice cat and mouse moments between Aidan Turner and Jason Watkins.

Lauren however is the best one of the bunch. You don’t have to be a genius to know that she had feelings beyond lust for Mitchell prior to him vamping her. She’s affronted that he didn’t turn up to her memorial service and even attacks George twice when she realises that he’s aware of Mitchell being a vampire.

However she really went for the jugular when she killed Becky in a frenzied bid to get Mitchell to turn her. It didn’t work due to Mitchell realising that he’d be dooming Becky if he turned her. That’s something that even George acknowledged to Annie during the end of the episode.

Lauren is certainly something of a key player and Mitchell even expressed desperation to save her. The interesting part of this whole episode is though is that everyone has a plot – what’s keeping Annie from crossing, will George accept being a werewolf and will Mitchell end up joining Lauren and Herrick? All interesting questions to be solved in a six episode first season.

Also in “Flotsam And Jetsam”

The credits aren’t anything fancy but there were more or less the same that we got back in the original pilot.

George (re tea): “You can’t drink it but you keep making it. It drives me insane.”
Annie: “I like my routine. It makes me feel normal.”
George: “But you’re a ghost.”

Bit of a contradiction but Annie met George’s fiancé in the original pilot episode, whereas here she did act like she knew nothing about the woman.

Annie (to George): “You’ve seen me since I’ve died. I think the rules of privacy got a bit muddled.”

George (re Owen): “Why didn’t you put him off?”
Mitchell (re Annie): “I tried to but she kicked me in the shin. The shin, George.”

Annie wanted to know if Owen had been with Janey Harris and if her sister had a baby. Janey is living proof that some people shouldn’t be allowed in tanning salons.

Mitchell (to Owen): “I believe people can leave an echo in a place where they were.”

Mitchell (about not feeding): “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
Herrick: “Good. I don’t. It’s mental. You’re a shark, be a shark.”

Herrick has taken on the role of a policeman in this pilot. Both George and Mitchell are still porters.

Becky (re hair shampoo): “Do you like it?”
George: “Yes, you smell like a polo. Have you got a hole?”

Lauren (to George): “I’m kind of new to this but aren’t you supposed to weep or scream or wee yourself?”

Who was that mystery bloke in the woods? He was watching the house as well, mainly for George.

Mitchell: “I’m not like you. I don’t have days off. This is who I am.”
George: “Then why are we even trying?”

George (to Annie, about losing a fiancé): “I know how it feels. It feels like losing everything all over again.”

Some comic moments in this episode included George the pigeon killer, Mitchell protecting the TV and Annie goofing about before Owen and Janey arrived.

George (re Mitchell/Becky): “Where did they go?”
Nurse: “Christ knows. I would’ve asked but then it would’ve looked like I gives a shit.”

Becky: “I’ve seen you before.”
Lauren: “I’ve had my face in the papers recently.”

Standout music: The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” stuck out the most for me.

Lauren (to Mitchell): “You did this. You made me, Mitchell. This is all your fault.”

Annie (re Mitchell/Becky): “Do you think he should’ve saved her?”
George: “I think he did.”

Chronology: I think it’s been a few months since the events of the original pilot.

On so many levels this could’ve ended up being a disaster but it’s brilliant that it didn’t. The new cast work effortlessly, the direction is fantastic and its mixture of comedy, heartbreak and creepiness is spot on. This is going to be quite a ride.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

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