“Please, not you as well!” Boy, is that a case of a character speaking for the entire audience…
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Director: Philip John
THE ONE WHERE Nina’s dead… and by the end, George is too. Blimey.
VERDICT Being Human ’s fourth series kicks off with an episode which feels more like an episode three. Or an episode four. Or possibly a season finale. Those with flaky memories could be forgiven for wondering if they’ve somehow missed a couple of weeks.
Although it’s a hugely impressive piece of writing, which suggests that we’re in for another classic series, it’s inevitably somewhat hamstrung by the circumstances of its production, an episode over-shadowed by a cloud of what-could-have-beens. Nina’s death is shocking, but for long-term fans it’s hard not to feel cheated when it occurs off-screen. When the bombshell is casually dropped in a line of dialogue five minutes in it has incredible force, but still… it’s hard not to pine for what could have been. If only Nina could have had a proper send-off, perhaps tragically dying in childbirth. And the same is true for George – if to a lesser extent. At least he gets a proper farewell, albeit a rather short one.
Of course, slating the production team for the slightly indecent haste with which these two leads are written out would be missing the point on a epic scale. No-one would choose to write out two lead characters like that. We’re not privy to the inside details, but obviously Russell Tovey’s desire to move on to other projects meant he was only able to commit to the briefest of bow-outs - and we can’t blame him for that (good luck to you, sir! We’ll miss those magnificent lugs of yours). Similarly, for whatever reason, Sinead Keenan evidently wasn’t available.
All things considered, it’s pretty astonishing just how good the episode is. This year’s arc plot – the War Child – is immediately gripping. The flash-forwards to a resistance bunker in a 2037 ruled over by vampires are seriously cool (So, you enjoyed Dollhouse ’s “Epitaph One” did you, Mr Whithouse? Well, so did we. Mind you, they were ripping off The Terminator …)
Russell Tovey is superb as a George all but destroyed by grief. Michael Socha is downright hilarious, and looks like he’ll be providing many of the comedy highlights from now on (loved his sledgehammer-subtle hints about moving into Honolulu Heights). Damien Molony doesn’t really get enough screen-time to show what he can do (killing two characters, introducing another and launching an arc plot is rather a lot to cram into one episode) but shows considerable promise. But the character I really can’t wait to see more of is Cutler, Andrew Gower’s dryly humorous vampire. Tellingly, I didn't miss Mitchell for a moment.
Niggles? Well, some of the additions to the show’s supernatural lore do rather come out of nowhere. Werewolf blood is toxic to vampires now, is it? How come no-one ever mentioned that or made use of it before – you’d have thought McNair would know! And doesn’t that make the whole business of capturing werewolves and locking them in cages to fight to the death an insanely dangerous business? I’m kinda tempted to do a marathon rewatch of the first three series looking for incidences of vampires getting splashed with werewolf blood without any ill effects. The same goes for the way that George induces his own transformation, and ends up looking like he could only afford half of the Charles Atlas muscle-gain plan... Wouldn’t someone have tried that before?
DID ANYONE ELSE THINK… That the future-resistance woman must be Eve? Of course, she still could be, travelling back to kill herself in a temporal paradox?
REFERENCES First we had a vampire bad guy called Wyndham. Now we’ve got an equally short-lived one who, like HG Wells’s Invisible Man, goes by the name of Griffin. Hmm, we’re starting to suspect that the “W” section of Toby Whithouse’s book collection is directly above his desk. Mind you, the “S” section isn’t far away either, judging by the name Stoker Import/Export…
The vampire recorder Regus’s gibberish incantation includes, “Dead, for a ducat” – a line from Hamlet , of course – and a nod to the Cambridge Latin Course, the textbooks that also inspired the names of characters in Doctor Who 's "The Fires Of Pompeii".
Not one but five references to Rentaghost – surely a record?
And then there’s “It’s a trap!” , of course…
SO, HOW DOES SUPERMAN CUT HIS HAIR? Tsk, anyone who’s read John Byrne's 1986 mini-series The Man Of Steel would know the answer. In that, he shaves by bouncing his heat-vision off a fragment of the Kryptonian space-pod that brought him to Earth. So presumably he does the same with his hair. Next question!
IT’S WOSSISNAME! Louis Mahoney (Leo the werewolf) seems to be the BBC’s go-to guy for old-bloke-dying-in-a-bed roles: he was also the aged version of Billy in Doctor Who ’s “Blink” (and decades before that he was in classic Pertwee/Tom Baker tales “Frontier In Space” and “Planet Of Evil”).
NITPICKS Where did George hide in order to leap out at Tom? Surely there isn't anywhere in that corner of the attic where he wouldn't be seen?
COOL MUSIC As a Stone Roses fan I'm a bit conflicted about Wretch 32’s “Fool’s Gold”-sampling “Unorthodox” (heard playing in the café) – it feels faintly sacrilegious. I have no such qualms about Timbuk3’s "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" , though. That's just ace.
THEY SHOULD HAVE STUCK WITH THE BABY’S ORIGINAL NAME Then when it filled its nappy someone could say “Splodge mess abounds”. Splodge mes… it’s like the ‘80s novelty punk band Splodgenessabounds , y’see. Oh, forget it.
BEST LINE Cutler: “I bet the Magna Carta doesn’t have a nipple on it.”
Read our Being Human series four interviews .