Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review: Being Human 1.0: The Pilot

The image you will find on all articles discussing the pilot.
Written 24/2/13

For the sake of completionism, seeing as Being Human is reaching its tragic and untimely end, I thought that I'd take a look at the Pilot that started it all. In 2008, BBC Three was undergoing a rebranding to appear less adult and more dynamic and cool. To facilitate this development, the channel chose to make three pilots for dynamic new series, two of which would be turned into fully fledged series the following year. These included the street-oriented West 10 LDN, the weird and wonderful Phoo Action and, as we see here, the original brief for a cheesy drama-comedy called Being Human.
     The only recognisable face in the cast (i.e. the only cast member to survive the crossover) is Russell Tovey, who is playing much, much camper version of himself. Mitchell actor Guy Flanagan is a much cooler and quieter take than Aiden Turner would later give it, feeling more like a stoner than a brooding heartthrob. Lenora Crichlow's position is taken by the much more Northern Andrea Riseborough, who I actually prefer in the role - she manages to capture the character's initial agoraphobia and loneliness in a way that's much more pulling than Lenora, whose Annie is much more awkward. There's little mention of her death, though, so it's debatable whether Riseborough could have gone forwards to work with that.
     Another interesting difference comes in the Vampires - the ones in the Pilot feel much more modern, hanging out in night-clubs and travelling by limousine, with Adrian Lester's much more subtle Herrick (I love Jason Watkins, before you all pounce on me) feeling rather weird. Lester's interpretation is much more of a PR guy, whereas Watkins' Herrick is called into so many other situations in which his madness and desperation are often brought to the fore. You believe that Watkins' Herrick is mad enough to try to take over the world from Bristol. Lester's Herrick... not so much. Elsewhere, and vampire Lauren (played here by Canadian actress Dominique McElliglott, Moon) goes from being this vulnerable and difficult woman in the main series to being the cheesiest performance I think I've ever, ever seen. (And that includes The Kandyman.)
The not at all scary and the scarily bad.
     It's a real shame, really, that the Pilot has been sorta hidden away for all these years. It has a feeling that's much more embryonic than that of the series proper, outlining a great deal of potential rather than developing anything too long term. It also doesn't have any predispositions - it works perfectly well on its own as an examination of humanity and our desperate desire for normality. It's also pretty funny, to boot. Simply put, it's as good an episode as any other and it more than justifies the lengths that many people went to in order to get the show a full commission.


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