If its handlers are capable enough, we can only hope that a good character-driven drama like Being Human can coast for years on the chemistry of its actors alone. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder how long the writers can keep up the show’s non-existent pace before they run out of steam completely. “Adam’s Family” is a decent stand-alone episode but I can’t help but think that it’ll look weak by comparison once the entire narrative arc of season three is complete. It doesn’t try to push forward this season’s plot forward very much, and when it does, it seems forced, like when Mitchell is watching a news report and is reminded that a “wolf-shaped bullet” is coming to get him.
Then again, the fact that the show isn’t moving its inconsequential plot forward is not really why “Adam’s Family” is a small but significant step back from the season premiere. If anything, I’m glad that Mitchell’s story took a backseat to George and Nina’s, especially since series writer Brian Dooley did a fair job of foreshadowing attempts to be parents. It’s an obvious story, but where it and Mitchell’s arc both fail is in enunciating why our monster protagonists’ personal dilemmas Matter with a capital M. After all, Being Human revolves around the idea that being inhuman gives the protagonists a greater perspective on life and the human condition.
And yet for the most part, the show’s attempts at addressing class difference, sexual frustrations, and the petty foibles of modern life are fairly obvious and shallow. “Adam’s Family” is full of charming characters, and realistically, that’s the most important reason to keep watching and enjoying the show. But when a character tries to explain anything with a line as goofy as, “The depravity of the human heart knows no bounds,” I can’t help but laugh, even if that line makes more sense within a stilted and rather silly upstairs/downstairs, class warfare context.
But first, let’s talk about Mitchell’s story, since it’s still the part of Being Human UK with the most problems. Now that Annie’s back from Purgatory, she’s made it her mission to help Mitchell out. She starts by helping him look for a job, a search that she winds up hindering more than helping when she shows up during Mitchell’s interview and totally throws him off by talking to him. This, of course, automatically makes him look a bit crazy to his interviewer, but it doesn’t make the segment in question necessarily funny. Seeing Mitchell sweat and bark at Annie, a ghost that only he can see, is a fool-proof set-up designed to make you want to cover your eyes in discomfort. And yet, there’s no comic spark to it, especially when you compare it with Nina and George’s excellent chemistry.
Admittedly, there’s a different dynamic between Mitchell and Annie than there is between Nina and George, but I can’t help but feel like the former couple’s relatively more brittle relationship is made that much more frail by the limited range of actors Lenora Crichlow and Aidan Turner. Crichlow especially seemed to be off her mark this week. For instance, she waited a beat or two too long before replying nervously to the horny and inept advances of Adam, this week’s monster du jour. In better hands, the line where she tells Adam that she was definitely not thinking about his boner would’ve probably been funnier.
The one other major Mitchell-centric development in “Adam’s Family” also came off rather poorly, but in this case one, should blame Dooley and not the actors (come to think of it, most of my problems with “Adam’s Family” are with its weak script, so take that into account before commenting about how stupid I am for taking issue with Cricholow and Turner’s acting, please). The scene where he’s confronted by another vampire and told that he’s probably going to have to leave Wales was necessary, but again, it should’ve had more (ahem) bite to it and seemed less like a cliche-riddled attempt at laying out why the consequences of Mitchell’s actions are finally coming to bite him in the ass. I just didn’t feel like the scene mattered, and that stinks, considering how important it should be in the long run.
Thankfully, Nina and George’s story arc is still going on strong, for the most part. In “Adam’s Family,” they’re tasked with taking care of Adam (Craig Roberts), a 46-year-old vampire that still looks like a gawky teenager. After Adam’s father dies, Nina and George take it upon themselves to look after him, but Mitchell tells them that they can’t take care of Adam since having a vampire that needs to feed around him is the last thing he needs now. So Nina and George try to find him a new home with a rich vampire couple that are basically the blood-sucking blueblood equivalent of the community in Brian Yuzna’s Society. They’re pure cookie-cutter snobs (with fangs!), but they’re intermittently screwed-up in an enjoyable way, like when they slip newspapers on the furniture before letting Nina and George sit down or the fact that they have an obedient human in their basement that they feed on.
I’d emphasize how poorly Dooley handled this human character, especially since he’s made to spout klutzy lines like, “Better a short life looking for pleasure than a long one looking for joy.” But I feel that the problems I’ve had with “Adam’s Family” have already been blown out of proportion. Yes, it’s grating to hear the suburban aristocratic vamps spout blase dialogue like “ill-mannered trash… you mongrels” and sneer about Nina and George’s “ridiculous blunt morality.” But how could I not love the way George tries to look threatening armed with a potted plant and a line like, “Who wants some of my plant?!” Roberts’ line delivery is also spot-on, as when he denounces his vamp family in perfect deadpan: “I don’t want this. It’s completely fucked up.” Being Human is still good fun. I just wish it were more well-rounded.
- We’re still trying to figure out if Being Human UK coverage is something you, the reader, would like to see on a regular basis. Sorry to have to ask again, but be sure to comment that you want more coverage in the comments section. Thanks! Oh and do try to let Todd know you want more Primeval coverage, too!