On Being (More) Human

Previously, I’ve mentioned how fans always want more, and sometimes should be left wanting more (instead of actually getting more and not being happy with it).

It won’t shock you to learn I’m a fan of (the UK series) Being Human. While I won’t reveal too much on the plot, all you need to know is the premise: there are supernatural beings and some of them share a rental property together. Hijinks ensue.

What I want to comment on is the pace and its themes. Being Human is a little show (I mean a short run of episodes per season/series), but it explores big ideas: revenge, purpose, love, difference, forgiveness, change, friendship, belonging and death. Sometimes in the same episode.

There are times I want more Being Human and I’ve been thinking about why and I believe the answer has something to do with the pace. Some programs linger over the plot and extract every last bit of story. Like Dexter (some of my friends find it so very sloooow), while other programs set up a life, a mystery and solve it in 45 minutes (CSI/Law and Order et al). All the rest fall somewhere in between.

Being Human, for all of its fantastic goings on, is melodrama, things build up, crises occur but then, voila, solved-ish. Onto the next thing underscored with eerie/melancholy music (by the by I love the score and the song selection).

 What takes half a season to build up in other programs is over by the end of the first episode after the cliff-hanger in Being Human. This is not necessarily a flaw, mind you. It may reflect the 140 character, instant status update kind of world we’ve evolved, or it may reflect budget constraints, writer or actor availability or the fear of sudden cancellation. Whatever the reason, it means really interesting moments of revelation about a character’s motivations are explained in one minute’s worth of dialogue and not referred to again. Peripheral characters do crucial things for the main character/s and seemingly disappear forever.

Perhaps, Being Human is more like real life in that the person on the street who picks you up when you’re knocked over by a … postal worker/ skater / clone bear / cyclist orc / jogger / ninja granny … doesn’t become your forever Yoda. What happens, is you thank the person, dust yourself off and go on your separate ways. It’s your friends that help you, after you get home. Yeah.

Like real life, Being Human characters deal with issues – badly. They get crazy over-emotional (George and Annie) or run away and don’t talk (Mitchell and George) or get arrogant and conceal the truth (Mitchell) or just get scared (Annie) or act out and/or hurt the ones they love (all of them). They work and fight and love and hide and look in all the wrong places for answers. They’re stupidly brave and seriously funny.

Maybe it’s this *realness* I have a problem with. Maybe it says more about my problems than whatever problems I think the program has. Maybe I want fantasies less like real life and more like, um, fantasies.  No.

That’s not it.

Am I making sense? I don’t want a solve-a-problem-an-episode world like every mystery program and I like the arcs explored over the course of each series. I like that it’s just about a bunch of people and sometimes like Mitchell says, things get shaken up and then they settle again. But sometimes the program packs big emotional punches and then…. I want more pay off for the punch.

I’m curiously sympathetic to Mitchell, which again reminds me of Dexter (and Angel and Spike), admiring of George, scared and proud of Nina and always onside with Annie.

I don’t mind they got rid of the narration. I think it was shorthand in the first series in the place of a longer lead up. The narration gave us entre to a world where the story kind of plonked the viewer. Here’s a house and here are some people, by the by….narration to set everything up so you understand. Sometimes it sounded a bit pretentious, but it was kinda ok because all of the characters could be a bit pretentious (and I don’t mean just George). Without the narration I don’t feel like anything is missing. And I don’t want more narration, but I still want more.

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