Being Human Series 3 Episode 5 – The Longest Day.

Sundays, BBC Three, 9pm.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

My expectations for this week’s episode of Being Human were high, various places previewing it as being the best episode yet helped to build the sense of anticipation. Knowing as well that there were some great guest stars and we were finally going to be finding out what happened to Herrick meant I sat down to watch the episode with a real sense excitement.

The episode began with George discovering that Herrick was currently a psychiatric patient in the hospital. Panic stricken at seeing the vampire he’d killed now alive and kicking George called in Nina to help, together they smuggle him out of the hospital under the lie that Herrick is actually Nina’s Uncle Billy. When they got him back to the B&B they summoned Mitchell from his continued brooding in the attic, after staring at Herrick in shock Mitchell snaps and attempts to stake him before Nina stops him.

Whilst tensions are still running sky high the doorbell goes, Annie investigates and decides that the woman standing on the doorstep must be a social worker. Nina takes the opportunity to move Herrick to safety, leaving the others to deal with Wendy, a community psychiatric nurse. The foursome attempt to bluff their way though, whilst they make tea they have a tense pow wow about what to do with Herrick, Mitchell is convinced Herrick is hiding behind a well constructed act whereas the girls think he’s come back cured. When Herrick discovers he has no reflection it certainly seems to be that they might be right. Herrick runs away to the attic and Mitchell panics that someone is going to come across the dossier linking him to the train massacre.

Just when it’s all getting completely tense another arrival comes in the shape of Cara, the vampire who raised Herrick (along with Daisy). She’s distraught at Herrick’s absence, and the fact that since he came back he doesn’t know who she is or what he is, Mitchell sees this as a chance to find out how, as he sees it, Herrick survived George’s werewolf attack so he has a plan for after he’s been attacked by the ever present wolf shaped bullet. Annie lets slip to Cara that Herrick is there in the B&B, she races to see him and distraught at the way he reacts to her she stakes herself. Nina blackmails Wendy into leaving them alone by threatening to complain about the over worked and over stressed nurse’s incompetency (when in fact there is no trace of Uncle Billy because there are no records for him).

Mitchell, in his angst / guilt / anger / fear tells Annie there can be no them, leaving her distraught. Nina tries to challenge Mitchell over his plan to kill Herrick, he becomes convinced that she will be the wolf shaped bullet. He runs off to take care of Herrick, but George’s been spending time with Herrick and is less convinced that killing him is the right decision so he decides to protect him. Mitchell and George argue, with George taking the higher ground and explaining that whilst Mitchell is the best friend he’s ever had he can not condone the plan of killing Herrick and will remove Mitchell from his life if he goes through with it.

Herrick starts to show more and more glimpses of the old Herrick, though is this his careful cover slipping, or personality traits that he had showing through. Annie becomes convinced that he is the old Herrick and tries to persuade Mitchell to let her do the deed. Herrick discovers the dossier and shows it to Nina. Scared by the fact that this seems to confirm all her fears about Mitchell she sneaks out and makes a phone call to the anonymous hotline set up for the train massacre. The episode ends with Mitchell sitting down in front of Herrick and beginning to tell him who he is.

There were so many brilliant bits about this episode – so much is happening in the episodes that I’m giving up on summarising them in a succinct manner, but my absolute favourite bits were:

  • Quick thinking Nina – here is a character who works so well under pressure, we saw it in Lia too, she can talk her way out of any situation and makes me laugh whilst she is doing it.
  • Cara – the way she talked about Herrick, and then her visible pain when he didn’t recognise her again was touchingly done. I found myself feeling sympathetic for a character I’d never considered it being possible to feel for.
  • Mitchell’s descent – episode by episode Mitchell is becoming more and more taken over by his fear of the prophecy coming true. In this episode this descent really kicks up a pace forcing Mitchell to act against his friends and to move to darker places.
  • Herrick – by the end of the episode I had as many questions as I had started with. Is it all an act? Does he actually not remember? Are his memories starting to return?
    • I thought this was a fantastic episode. Packed with action yet contained within the B&B for almost the entire episode, it was a tightly scripted and staged episode. It really feels like everything has kicked up another notch or two – I think we’re in for quite a ride in the final three episodes of the series.

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Outcasts – Week 2

I have spent a lot of time thinking about Outcasts this week, and what I was going to write about it. I’ve changed my mind more times than I can count, but I have finally come to the conclusion that Outcasts is not for me.

On Monday I settled down to watch the third episode, hoping that it would be moving away from the exposition and that more would happen. To a certain extent it did, there was certainly more going on, but for me it just didn’t work. Throughout the episode I began to realise that I didn’t really care about any of the characters or what happened to them. This point was driven home to me by the penultimate scene of the episode, an emotionally driven sequence that would typically have reduced me to tears – I watched it without even a lump in the throat. Once the episode had finished I decided that I was going to watch no more episodes.

After I’d made that decision came the news that Outcasts was going to be moved to a Sunday evening graveyard slot after episode 5. This news saddened me, and started me thinking about whether I had been too hasty in my decision. After plenty of thought I have decided to stick with my original plan, but I do it with plenty of regret.

Whilst Outcasts hasn’t worked for me and for many viewers it is not a programme without positives. The decision to make it was a bold one, I can’t tell you how much I wish it had paid off. I still believe strongly that the concept of the programme was sound. I have also been impressed through all three episodes with how the show looks – the South African landscape has been used wonderfully to create Carpathia and the effects based work has been excellent.

I’ve seen a few different commentators suggesting that if the UK tv schedules allowed for the double length or extended length pilot episodes that other countries give their genre tv the series may have panned out differently. I think there is of merit in this idea, with so much world building needed at the beginning of the series this may have allowed the dialogue and pacing to work differently and produced a more engaging show.

So this will be my final Outcasts round up. What do you think? Are you still watching?

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Masterchef, Wednesday 9pm, BBC1

The new series of Masterchef kicked off last night, with a new set, new theme music, and a new catchphrase for Gregg Wallace: “Let’s get fatter!” (sure to go down well with the National Obesity Forum, that). There’s a new format too – this time the hopeful contestants cook individually (instead of in groups of 6). They get 45 minutes in the prep kitchen then a further 10 minutes to finish and plate up their dish in front of Gregg and John. In an X Factor-aping move they’re accompanied by assorted friends and family, and they get to cook their own creation (rather than concoct something from an array of mystery ingredients). In these early stages the judges select a final 20 – if John and Gregg both give the thumbs up the contestant gets handed an apron and is through to that final 20, if they disagree the contestant gets a ‘lifeline’ and can cook again.

They have retained a few things from the previous series – the voiceover woman, Gregg’s propensity to repeat whatever John has just said, and of course, the endless shots of contestants walking towards the Masterchef HQ (later, thrillingly, we’ll get to see them perambulating toward various London eateries).

The first contestant to face the judges is Paul, who dishes up mackerel wrapped in thin slices of white bread (he clearly watched the Great British menu last year, as this is very similar to one of the winning dishes). John and Gregg love it and duly pass him the apron of success. Charity, for some reason dressed for her culinary endeavours in a low cut black dress (trying to secure Gregg’s vote?), opts to serve a deconstructed trifle. My notes say DO NOT MESS WITH TRIFLE, and lo, a lesson is learnt. The result (that’s it on the blue plate there) made me hoot with laughter (and needless to say Charity is sent home).

Other contestants of note are American Tim, who’s through with his cod tempura, and tattooed carpenter James, endearingly worrying about the consistency of his jus – happily, despite the fact the jus is indeed over reduced, he gets an apron. I also like Polly, with her “vibe that someone here likes a pud”. I’m pretty surprised that Gregg votes no to her peach upside down cake, especially as John likes it and praises the skill involved. Still, she eventually gets through after cooking pea mousse (WHY???) for her ‘lifeline’ dish. Ondine, possessed of the squeakiest laugh ever, goes through despite some knackered tuiles. Terry’s quail eggs surrounded by a hollandaise lake have John and Gregg in fits, while contestant John from Essex falls at the fonDONT hurdle – will people never learn?! Some familiar flavour combinations reappeared – scallops and black pudding, sodding minted pea puree – and some new ones made their debut: leeks with coconut and lime, anyone? Rather nice, apparently.

So, I hear you ask (indulge me), are the changes an improvement? Weeeeellll…..on the whole, not really. The hour really dragged (Gregg in particular took ages to deliver his verdicts, I guess because they’ve been told to ramp up the tension), and I don’t like the X Factoriness of seeing people sobbing on their rellies when they’re booted off. I’ve read that this new format is very similar to the Australian version, which is enormously popular. However, if it does mean that the preliminary round is over after tonight’s episode, then fine, because that always seemed to go on for weeks and it was always more interesting in the later stages anyway. I do kind of miss “cooking doesn’t get TUFFA than this!” though……

Being Human Series 3 Episode 4 : The Pack.

Sundays, BBC Three, 9pm.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

When the credits rolled at the end of last night’s episode it took a couple of minutes for me to be able to gather my thoughts. My first thought of “Wow, another great episode” was rapidly followed by the thought “how on earth am I going to summarise all of that?!”

Never one to back down from a challenge, here goes. I apologise in advance for how long winded this is going to be – feel free to skip ahead to my favourite things about the episode!

We started the episode with McNair and his son Tom, and learnt that Tom was born a werewolf, and Mrs McNair was no longer alive. George and Nina went looking for Tom hoping he could tell them what happened when two werewolves made a baby werewolf. McNair hid Tom away and claimed to know nothing. After Mitchell had mistakenly attacked Tom thinking he was a burglar, McNair and Mitchell re-established their species’ mutual distrust and dislike. Nina and George tried to keep the peace, they still didn’t know what was going to happen to the wolfbaby or Nina during the imminent full moon, and insisted on Tom getting proper medical attention at the hospital. Whilst Nina started to suspect all was not quite as McNair had told Tom, Mitchell went to investigate McNair’s van and discovered his vampire hunting stuff. In anger he turned to Richard and Emma, Adam’s failed foster parents, and offered them McNair’s location so that they could restart the fight club we first saw in episode 1. Nina’s suspicions were all founded, Tom is not McNair’s son and he wasn’t born a werewolf – realising everything he knew was a lie (in fact it was McNair who turned Tom) he returned to the van getting ready to leave, closely followed by Nina and George and they were all kidnapped for the fight club. Mitchell had an attack of conscience, and went with Annie and McNair to save the day resulting in a huge fight and the death of Richard. Too late to escape the full moon, Annie and Mitchell locked themselves in the cage and waited out the night until the four werewolves all returned to their human selves.

Whilst all the werewolfy stuff was going on Annie and Mitchell weren’t idle. They continued to explore their new relationship, trying to find a way that they could make it work. When Annie realised she could experience sensations by using a human conduit they went out to find a suitable woman, but Mitchell reverted to type and realised that sex for him is about power and violence and that pursuing a physical relationship with Annie wasn’t going to work. They’ll carry on with the kissing though.

Phew. I think that covers most of the action… Onto my favourite things:

  • McNair – I never expected to find any role Robson Green played attractive, but there’s something rather fabulous about McNair. I’m loving the character, and the way Green is playing him – it’s a different sort of role for him and he seems to be relishing it.
  • Effects – Werewolf effects are always difficult to get right, I find they’re often the supernatural effects I find the least convincing. With each series Being Human is getting the werewolves better and better, last night they were their best yet. McNair’s partial transformation was particularly well done.
  • Annie – In an episode that was so werewolf filled Annie could easily have faded into the background. Instead she had more brilliant moments, her list of things to try with Mitchell left me laughing long and hard.
  • Herrick – And of course, the final scene where we see that Herrick is alive but seemingly institutionalised was the icing on what had already been an excellent cake.

I thought it was another brilliant episode, and I can’t wait to see what next week will bring.

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My TV week

Sunday

Confession time: I love Lark Rise to Candleford. Yes, it’s incredibly twee, and no, nothing much happens, but it’s just so soothing. Everything’s golden in Lark Rise (even though they’re all terribly poor). Having said that, I’m not sad that this series is the last – I think it’s run its course, and I’m finding Dorcas Lane monumentally irritating. Still, I’ll miss it’s bucolic charms and ability to lift my ‘end of weekend’ gloom. Being Human provides something of a contrast – I’m loving this third series so far (and I’m also loving Jenni’s weekly reviews :)).

Monday

I’m still watching Glee, although I’m afraid I can’t summon the enthusiasm to write a full review each week any more (as you may well have noticed. Ahem). I enjoyed the Duets episode (Will: “What’s a duet?” Brittany: “A blanket”), and this week’s Rocky Horror one was entertaining, song-wise, but from a plot point of view…pfft. I caught the first episode of Outcasts, the Beeb’s new sci fi series but have yet to see the second – read Jenni’s review here (I agree with everything she says).

Tuesday

CSI, again, of course. Last week’s episode, with a pvc-gimp-suited serial killer storyline that was gratuitously unpleasant and is clearly to be continued, was really disappointing. This week’s was better (no gimpery) but I’m not sure how much longer this show will be a ‘must see’ for me. I caught up with last week’s Brothers & Sisters, and spent most of that hour shouting at the telly. For some reason Norah is poor and in need of a job. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CANCER CENTRE? She and Sarah (and Kevin) ponder getting some cosmetic surgery. BLAAAH. Holly can’t remember who Rebecca is. WHY DOES HOLLY TALK LIKE THAT IT’S SO ANNOYING GAH WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST KILL HER OFF?* So far, this season has been a bit pants (and HOW schmaltzy was the end of the first episode? “Oh, we’re a bit sad that Robert is dead but he’s been more or less dead for, like, a whole year so we’ve had time to get used to the idea, let’s all laugh about the good times and hug each other”)…..but at least Crap Walker’s not turned up yet.**

*Nepotism, perhaps? **Tommy. And yes I know he’ll turn up like a bad smell soon.

Thursday

I was really looking forward to The Big C, and happily the first episode (yes, I know I’m a week behind) lived up to my expectations. Laura Linney plays Cathy Jamison, a 42 year old teacher diagnosed with terminal skin cancer. She decides to make the most of the time she has left, and this first episode saw her getting a pool installed in her tiny front garden, ordering “desserts and liquor” in a restaurant and pretending to be dead in the bath to get back at her son (the little shit had pretended to chop his finger off). Interestingly she decides not to tell her family about her diagnosis (although she comes close to telling her brother). Linney is excellent, and the script is spikily funny. I’m really looking forward to watching episode 2.

Outcasts – Week 1.

BBC 1, Mondays and Tuesdays, 9pm.

This week has seen BBC 1 venture back into the world of sci fi. With a great cast and an interesting concept I was intrigued to start watching, but wary as I remembered the last few attempts such as The Deep and Survivors. Sadly my niggling doubts proved to be true and by the end of this week’s two episodes I found myself wondering whether I was going to be able to make it to the end of the series.

I’m not going to attempt to summarise what went on in the two episodes, but I thought instead I’d highlight the bits I liked and some of the bits I didn’t like. So starting with the positives:

  • The setting – choosing South Africa as the filming location for Outcasts seems to have been an excellent move. The landscape is unfamiliar enough to be totally believable as an alien planet and it’s natural beauty is allowing for some gorgeous scenery shots.
  • It’s not Utopia – there is plenty of information so far to tell us that the move of the human race to Carpathia has not been a smooth. The hinting about tough decisions, and Mitchell’s intended mini revolution definitely adds to the intrigue.
  • Mitchell – Jamie Bamber’s portrayal of the rebel Mitchell was for me a highlight of the first episode.

The final point there leads me neatly onto the negatives of these first two episodes:

  • They killed Mitchell – I sat open mouthed after Fleur shot Mitchell, unable to believe that before the end of the first episode they’d killed off the most interesting character.
  • Exposition, exposition, exposition – the majority of the dialogue for the first two episodes was handed over to exposition to the point where I was resisting the temptation to shout “I don’t care” at the television. Despite the exposition heavy dialogue though I found myself still having so many questions about what was going on.
  • Haven’t we seen this before? – at various points throughout the first two episodes I found myself feeling a sense of deja vu, the influences of other sci fi shows are definitely clear to see at times.

I shall keep watching but that’s mainly because I always do end up sticking with stuff that’s ropey in the hope that it’s going to get better.

Did you watch this week? Will you be tuning in again?

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Being Human Series 3 Episode 3 : Type 4.

Sundays, BBC Three, 9pm.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Another week, another episode of Being Human and another supernatural treat.

This week saw the introduction of a new type of supernatural being, a zombie. After seeing Sasha come to on the autopsy table we next saw her staggering drunkenly out of a nightclub. She spotted Annie on one of her late night walks and followed her home, shouting abuse with every step. This lead to the B&B turning into the guest house for “differents” once again, whilst Annie and Mitchell tried to find a way to get rid of her. Investigation at the hospital found that it was their fault that she existed – whilst Mitchell was rescuing Annie from purgatory no doors were appearing for the dead to cross over. The hospital had experimented on their undead but Sasha had managed to escape. Feeling guilty they couldn’t possibly get rid of her, so Annie had a new pet project. After an unpleasant run in with Sasha’s far from grieving boyfriend, Annie and Nina took her for a girls night out when death finally began to catch up with her, leading to some surprisingly touching death bed scenes. Whilst all this was going on Mitchell had to stop a vampiric “fang boy” stalker from re-enacting his infamous train massacre, George and Nina discovered they were going to have a baby, and Mitchell finally cottoned on to Annie’s true feelings for him.

Whilst this was a fairly stand alone episode, it continued with some of the themes already seen this series and furthered established storylines. My favourite moments were:

  • Mitchell and George’s discussion about Annie – I love the interaction between these two, and it was nice to see Mitchell being the unsure one.
  • Sasha – I found Sasha to be thoroughly irritating, just like so many girls I know like her. Her real lack of awareness of what had happened to her, and her continued belief in her appeal to men made me smile. I found her last few scenes very touching, and liked the way they showed that there was more to her than the image she liked to project.
  • The music – one of my favourite things about Being Human is the way they use music, this episode was brilliant for it.
  • Consequences – Being Human is brilliant about showing that people’s actions have consequences, this happened again this week as Mitchell and Annie realised that his heroic rescue had come at a price.

Three episodes in and I’m as hooked as ever. There’s still been no sign of Herrick, and I think we’re due for a little more time with McNair and son – it sounds like the series is only going to continue on it’s brilliant run.

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