Being Human: from strange to stranger

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So, for me, who likes monsters of all kinds, Being Human is a good series for me to watch. Vampires, ghosts and werewolves. And a zombie, in season 2. But the series seems to be losing its way. Once there was the stable trio of Annie, George and Mitchell, who despite being supernatural, had normal worries about dating and watching The Real Hustle. But Toby Whithouse seems to have gotten a bit overexcited with this series and the plot lines are sprawling, over-elaborate and just, well, tedious at times. 

The new line up looks like this: 

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We still have Annie, the ghost, but there is a new vampire and a new werewolf. The way it was set up feels clumsy and a little bit too contrived (I understand all plot lines are contrived, but this one seems to be stretching itself a bit too far). There’s now Hal, a vampire who is so irritatingly uptight that you could see why some of us hate them. There’s also Tom, the werewolf, who appeared in an earlier season. Instead of focusing on what made the previous series great – the combination of the trivialities of modern living with the search for a basic concept of humanity, this series has prophecies, and so much more backstory that you quickly lose track of who’s who. There are some great performances so far, mainly from Mark Williams (you’ll know him as Arthur Weasley) who plays Regus, the ‘vampire recorder’. He knows about all the stereotypes and lives up to them, showing us a refreshing take on the vampire (at one point, he’s seen wearing a ‘Team Edward’ t-shirt…). 

The elaborate plot lines feel like they’re trying to develop the series into something more. George and Nina’s baby, Eve, is known as the ‘war-child’ who will bring about the destruction of the vampires and save the humans. It all feels a bit too Battlestar Galactica for me. 

Whether it’s because the writers have run out of ways to explore the contradictions of ‘humanity’ and ‘normality’, or because they’re trying to steer the show in a more supernatural direction, the writing seems to have gone from just strange to something of a stranger. It doesn’t have the same feel as previous series, and the concept of ‘humanity’ has seemingly been completely abandoned. So if it’s not about being human, what is it trying to say? And do we care?

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Alternative histories/Monstrous pasts

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So, I’ve just seen the new trailer for Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter. Firstly, I had no idea that Tim Burton was involved. Which I should have guessed really, but he’s already involved in another vamp project this year, Dark Shadows, so one assumed….anyway. The other thing the trailer (and the whole film) made me think about was why there is the current trend to take historical figures, or classic texts, and add an ‘edge’ to them by adding monsters. This suggests several things:

1. The historicity of the texts and figures adds an authenticity of sorts to the monster tales.

2. Monsters are still capable of adding something ‘interesting’ to the mix.

3. We’re running out of new ways to present monsters in texts (particularly vampires) so we’re recreating past histories, but in a more monstrous way. So, history isn’t gory or gruesome enough as it is – add some vampires, and you have a story worth telling to the audiences of today.

I’ve seen many others: Android Karenina, Jane Slayer, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies….there’s quite a list. Another vampire series that sees an alternative history is Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula which adds a bloody twist to all the usual historic events. With all these remakes and retellings of past events, it seems like we need a new way of looking at monsters….

Death Valley: Monsters on MTV

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So, reading various articles, it came to my attention that there’s now a show on MTV called Death Valley (the promo for which cleverly zooms in on the words ‘eat all’ of the name) Mmm, tasty Although there is a seemingly never-ending waiting list of films that have been green-lit for production that feature vampires, it’s not until the former-epitome of cool, MTV, weighs in that you know the market is really getting saturated. Especially the genre they’ve picked. Death Valley is part True Blood, part Office, and part…well, MTV. It combines all the elements of the hideous ‘reality TV’ we’ve gotten used to seeing or hearing about on these channels, like Jersey Shore and its counterparts. It follows, in a ‘mockumentary’ style, the ‘Undead Task Force’ as they try and deal with the influx of the undead. The lighting and setting is reminiscent of True Blood at times, but sends it up in a very crude manner. The vampires are described as the “douchebags of the undead community” and are shown primarily as prostitutes or individuals looking to exploit the human fascination with a fairytale come to life. Although all tongue-in-cheek, the series proves that there is still enough of an interest in the gore and spectre of the undead to find a new way to represent it. See the trailer for more details…