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Being Human 4.6: Puppy Love

March 12th, 2012 (04:19 am)

Being Human is a tricky thing. iPlayer panders towards my indiscipline which means that I can stop and start at moments of awkwardness; whether this awkwardness is tribute to the programme's powers of observation, or the predictability of the episodes, I don't know. I'm also older than the target audience, being more Ceefax than Facebook in vintage if not at heart and in practice.

This week has a special significance in that Ellie Kendrick, much-missed (by me anyway) from Upstairs Downstairs, is the principal guest supernatural of the week, and is bespectacled too. (You may remember that Dorothy Parker quote about men, passes, girls and glasses? In my experience, it's not true.) Allison (perhaps a nod to that other vampire slayer’s companion, Alyson Hannigan) has much of the ideal love of the isolated youth about her, but real people are not ideals and this is something Tom learns more quickly. Kendrick’s performance often reminded me of sometime Doctor Who producer Susie Liggat’s comments (made on the online commentary track for ‘Love & Monsters’) concerning the difficulty confident, successful, outgoing actors have in capturing the shy and introverted. Her unworldliness was sometimes applied with a trowel, particularly in the museum steps scene, leading to the uncomfortable feeling that Allison was being laughed at by the episode rather than laughed with; but this at least emphasised Allison’s youth (she seems to be still at school) and her naïve belief in the power of reasoned argument in the face of brutal force. The ‘Puppy Love’ montage was somewhat cringeworthy, partly because it was rather obviously depicted but also perhaps because the characters were in a too-familiar emotional place.

It was a relief to see Allison survive the episode and go home to her parents; and to see Tom demonstrate the maturity to send her on her way instead of clinging on to her. While George could only cope by isolating himself from the world, Tom grew up on the front line of Michael McNair’s struggle against vampires, and this series sees him slowly process the experience. The reappearance of McNair’s letters in Tom’s hands indicated that this episode was a key episode for Tom’s character development, and so the manner of his letting Allison go proved. Responsibility doesn’t come with gender or with age, but with being able to weigh one’s own mortality with other people’s and exercise judgement; Tom knows that he is still learning and is not ready for his mistakes to become the model for someone else’s conduct, particularly when Allison is closer to the humanity the three at Honolulu Heights envy.

Leonora Crichlow seemed to have little new to do, though Annie’s plotline shadowed Tom’s rather well as she made a series of misjudgements, the first being fatal; though how far this foreshadows the fulfilment of the season arc in the next two episodes is of course a tease. Being Human’s step back from overt apocalypse towards old-fashioned guest-of-the-week storylining has succeeded in helping establish Tom and Hal as regulars and in distinguishing them from George and Mitchell. In the background, though, Cutler has been carefully delineated as perhaps the most interesting villain in the series; the look on Andrew Gower’s face as Cutler breaks a taboo and stakes Golda underlined the message this series has been keen to stress, that killing changes people.

As series four moves towards its climax there are more echoes of the past, with Alex recalling Mitchell’s ill-fated girlfriends and the gathering of vampire forces under the Old Ones amplifying the designs of Herrick in the first season. For now, though, ‘Puppy Love’ was a pleasing restatement of Being Human’s roots in the comedy-drama genre; and if television executives are in search of a series for Ellie Kendrick in a few years’ time, they could do worse than have John Jackson and/or Toby Whithouse develop a format about a werewolf barrister.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/494924.html.

Comments

Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: March 12th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)

Haven't seen this one yet so thanks for not been too spoilersie but I saw the season opener and felt dubious. The new season seems as histrionic as Primeval. Well, to be fair, so did some of the previous season. Not a reason not to watch it but not as moving somehow as seasons 1 and 2( you can tell I prefer noble tragedies here).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: March 12th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)

Once we are through the first two episodes which establish the new character structure and quickly tie up threads which are difficult to progress following the cast change, it settles down.