‘Being Human’ is a British horror-drama series that ran from 2008-2013. The show focuses on a supernatural trinity – a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost – who live together under one roof as they attempt to lead normal lives. Throughout the five seasons the cast of characters changes, but the premise of the trinity remains the same, and is ultimately a key point to the bigger picture of the world this show exists in.
The vampire leads throughout the course of the show are John Mitchell (Aidan Turner) and Hal York (Damien Molony); the werewolf leads are George Sands (Russell Tovey), Nina Pickering (Sinead Keenan), and Tom McNair (Michael Socha); and the ghost leads are Annie Sawyer (Lenora Crichlow) and Alex Millar (Kate Bracken). With the exception of Hal, the replacements are introduced in the seasons before they become the leads, comfortably transitioning them into the story as they eventually take over for their counterparts.
In my opinion, this is a fantastic television show. It does lean a little drama heavy at times, but it never ignores its horror side in the process. It’s not a particularly long show; the first and fifth seasons only consist of six episodes, while seasons two through four have eight per season. And yet, despite the short season runs, the show is very successful in delivering strong characters and great stories. This show is one that I love.
Here’s my ranking of all five seasons, from least favorite to favorite:
5) Season Four
I struggled to get into the fourth season during my first time viewing this series, primarily due to the sudden change in the cast. I did expect some change based on the ending of the third season, in which one lead character died, but when this one starts another character has died between the seasons, and another by the end of the first episode, and all of that effected my positive enthusiasm for the series. That said, this most recent time going through the series I knew exactly what to expect and I enjoyed it much better than before.
There’s plenty to like in the fourth season, including the introduction of Hal, who is not just another vampire but instead one of the “Old Ones”, as well an earlier trinity that lived peacefully together since 1955. There’s also a decent subplot about George and Nina’s daughter, Eve, who the vampires believe to be prophesized as “The War Child”, and I really like the idea that everything we see of Hal living with Annie and Tom is an alteration of the would-be series of events due to the actions of Eve from the future; the season has a clever and complicated take on the savior figure that does make sense by the end, but it’s so complex and jam packed with ideas that it can be a little overwhelming as it’s compressed to just an eight-episode season. In some ways I feel like this particular storyline should have been expanded and fleshed out as a two-season arc.
Season Four is good, but it’s also over-stuffed with ideas.
4) Season Three
Don’t get me wrong here, I love the third season; it starts off great with Mitchell venturing into purgatory to rescue Annie only to be confronted by one of his victims from the boxcar massacre, who allows him to bring Annie back with him, but with a warning that his time is almost up and that he’s destined to be killed by a werewolf. One of the things that I love about this show is how each season deals with the characters facing the consequences of their actions from the previous seasons, and here it’s really amped up as the walls are closing in around Mitchell. This season also sees the return of Season One villain, Herrick (Jason Watkins), whose resurrection plays a significant part in Mitchell’s desperate efforts to escape his fate. The final two episodes of the season are also fantastic, as the intensity rises with Mitchell being arrested, which in turn could expose the world to the existence of the supernatural, and the conclusion to the story ending on a very emotional beat that is accentuated by Richard Wells’ powerful score. Annie’s story was okay; she falls in love with Mitchell after he brings her back from purgatory, and she becomes so desperate to prove Mitchell’s innocence that she accidently helps the special agent prove his guilt, and as a result prevents the vampire elite from covering up the truth. And finally, I like the introduction to the McNair’s, a father/son team of hardened werewolves who take the fight to the vampires – a nice change considering that up to this point the werewolves were depicted as being the victims of brutal attacks from vampires, and here are werewolves who are also warriors.
As much as I do love the third season, it places at fourth place on this ranking because it fumbles just a little bit in the middle. There’s a couple of episodes that feel a little too much like filler and have minimal to no impact on the overall storylines. Another disappointing aspect to the season is the involvement of George and Nina, who are reduced to a storyline involving them dealing with the fact that they’re going to become parents. Nina gets a little bit to do here as she learns the truth about Mitchell’s involvement in the boxcar massacre and tips off the police, but other than that, I was hoping for more from these characters, especially George, who only gets to shine in the final episode.
Season Three is a very good season with an excellent start and powerful conclusion. It’s not quite as good as the first two seasons, but it is certainly strong with the way it expands on everything that has come before.
3) Season One
Ah, the first season. The simple times for the trinity. Season One is excellent with the way that it lays the foundation for the series and establishes the characters and their relationships with each other. Here we are introduced to John Mitchell (referred to by his last name throughout the series), a soldier from World War 1 who made a deal to become a vampire to save his men; George Sands, an intellectual-yet-eccentric man who survived a werewolf attack while on vacation with his girlfriend; and Annie Sawyer, a young woman confined to the apartment she died in who has suppressed the event of her death. Mitchell, who lived as a savage vampire and right hand to the villainous Herrick eventually saves George from being killed by his fellow vampires, and forms a friendship with him. George’s positive influence ultimately leads to Mitchell vowing to kick his blood habit in an effort to live a normal life. The two end up moving into the Annie’s apartment, and because they themselves are supernatural beings, they can see and communicate with her. And thus begins the unlikely alliance of the supernatural trinity.
The biggest thing that I love about the first season is the characters themselves and their individual stories. Mitchell’s story is the most compelling as a pretty strong allegory for drug addiction, and Aidan Turner plays it to perfection; Annie’s story about still being in love with her fiancé, who is also George and Mitchell’s landlord, is standard at first, but takes an interesting turn later when she discovers the truth about the circumstance of her death, and there’s a pretty cool back and forth between the two in the last couple of episodes; and lastly, there’s George, who begins to learn accepting and managing his condition. Additionally, the season’s primary antagonist, Herrick, is a load of fun and oozes with personality.
While Season One isn’t my favorite of the five seasons, it’s certainly good with the way it establishes the characters and the world that it builds. I love it.
2) Season Five
While I had a difficult time adjusting to the newer characters during my first-time watching Season Four, by the time I got to the fifth season I was all in on them. But the thing that I love the most about the fifth and final season is the story. Here, Hal and Tom take jobs at the Barry Grand Hotel, and unbeknownst to them is the fact that the Devil resides in the hotel within the crippled body of a man known as Captain Hatch (Phil Davis), who attempts to manipulate a rift in the trinity, whose unity can bring about his end. Additionally, Hatch is aided by a human named Rook (Steven Robertson), who runs a secret government agency tasked with keeping the supernatural out of the human consciousness, but when his department is on the verge of getting shut down, he becomes desperate to save his job and works with Hatch to organize chaos by igniting a feud between vampires and werewolves, beginning with Hal and Tom. Meanwhile, Alex becomes suspicious of Hatch, and in turn he of her, as she is key to the trinity.
Just like the first season, the fifth consists of only 6 episodes, and the overall story arc is tight. I feel like creator Toby Whithouse did a fantastic job of building up the friendship between these characters so that when they do turn against each other due to manipulation, you feel it. I also feel like this has the most action in the series, and it’s done very well. Finally, the final two episodes are among my favorite episodes of the series.
Season Five has a tight and engaging story, and is a solid ending to this one big story. While I personally would have wanted it to continue on because I love this world that has been built, they clearly ended on their terms, and I suppose that’s better than the show getting axed without having a proper conclusion.
1) Season Two
Season Two is the peak of ‘Being Human’ for me. As I mentioned when I talked about the third season, one of the things that I find great about this show is how each season has the characters facing the consequences for their actions in the prior seasons, and Season Two is when it was done the best. For Annie, closing the door to the other side in favor of fighting for her friends has put her at odds with the spirit world; for George, not only has turning into a werewolf and killing Herrick brought out the inner animal in him, but he also has to deal with the fact that he inflicted Nina with his curse; for Mitchell, his participation in the death of Herrick leaves him no choice but to pick up the pieces and re-organize the vampires who have sprung into chaos since being leaderless. Indeed, Season Two is the best of the entire series because all three of the leads are given a lot of fantastic material to work with.
Expanding onto the consequences is their individual story arcs; for Annie, she learns to fight back against the other side and closing the doors, as well as helping others cross over; for George, after losing Nina because of his “wild streak”, his attempts at suppressing the beast within him leads to violent outbursts that effects his social life, especially including a great sequence where he begins to transform during a parent-teacher conference with his new girlfriend and her daughter present due to daylight savings time; and for Mitchell it’s probably the most tragic as he tries like hell to guide the vampires into a better direction in an effort to prevent their exposure by organizing and training them to not kill and be better, but his efforts are undermined by a secret organization of humans whose actions bring out Mitchell’s dark side, leading to the slaughter of an entire train of humans. Additionally, the human villains of the season, former priest Kemp (Donald Sumpter) and Professor Lucy Jagget (Lyndsey Marshal) are solid with how they’re utilized in the season, and how they disrupt and ultimately destroy the peaceful co-existence that Mitchell was building – and it’s their actions that forced his hand and sealed his fate.
Overall, the Second Season is my favorite of the show. The story, characters, and arcs are phenomenal here, and this is the season that was never topped.