THE ONE WHERE A ghostly little lad from Victorian times joins the household.
VERDICT “Sticks And Rope” is not a classic episode of Being Human , but it’s still pretty entertaining.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the basic premise – a ghostly presence turns up in the house, sent there as part of a masterplan – was used in last series’ “A Spectre Calls”, and James Lance’s spectral serial killer Kirby was considerably creepier than either little Oliver or his drowned little brother. It’s difficult to do haunting-related chills in Being Human , since we’re so used to spirits being loveable characters. Mind you, the infamous Men With Sticks And Ropes are pretty creepy, and it’s very satisfying to finally get a proper look at them. Plus the haunting is only part of the mix, and most of the other elements work well.
It’s an episode that concerns two different kinds of parenting. Alex gets a surrogate little brother in the form of Oliver, while Hal ruthlessly rejects his quasi-son, Crumb. Both relationships are interesting, and show us new sides to these regular characters. Oliver, with his high-falutin’ mode of speech, is a particular delight. It helps that the little boy who plays him (Benjamin Greaves-Neal) is a considerably better child actor than the girl who played Hetty the Old One…
Elsewhere, it’s a delight to see the return of the Hal/Tom banter which was such a highlight of series four. We feared we’d seen the last of that after they became firm friends and lost their jobs at the café, but thankfully not. Their food fight is enormous fun.
But the real highlights are provided by Phil Davis, who finally gets a proper chance to show off his acting chops as Captain Hatch strives to drive a wedge between Hal and Tom. The way he invokes notions of class and education to do so, presenting different faces to different people, is fiendishly cunning. It’s a magnificent, protean performance by Davis, and bodes well for the series’ climactic episodes, in which Hatch will come to the fore.
THE SHOPPING LIST In the hallway of the Barry Grand you can see a rather kitsch print of a girl playing a mandolin, by artist Georgette Nivert (see right). Good luck trawling charity shops for a copy – this kind of ’60s kitsch used to be worthless, but now tends to go for a tidy sum.
NITPICKS Given that they don’t have him restrained or controlled in any way, why doesn’t Crumb just attack the Men In Grey the moment they let him out of his cage? Secondly, politicians may be useless, but given that the MIGs are publically funded, surely the Home Secretary would know that vampires don’t show up on CCTV? Indeed, the whole subplot where Rook films Crumb killing his sister and niece to provide an argument for the continuation of funding doesn’t seem to make much sense – he has a whole underground base full of evidence of the savagery of vampires, stretching back decades! Finally, why are Hal and Tom so indiscreet about talking to Alex in the hotel, and why do none of the customers seem to notice that they’re having conversations with thin air?
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY Love this newspaper headline. Surely it’s only a matter of time before The Daily Express runs this one?
INCREASE YOUR WORD POWER Oliver comes out with some wonderfully archaic vocabulary. “Dollymop” is Victorian slang for a prostitute, while “Flapdragon” was a parlour game in which people had to snatch raisins out of burning brandy. However, considering that the latter is hurled at Alex as an insult, one wonders if Oliver is using the contemporary definition … In which case, this is surely the rudest thing anyone’s ever said on Being Human !
Alex murders Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube” on the organ.
REFERENCES Alex has clearly been watching Supernanny as well as Diagnosis: Murder . Hatch has seen ‘70s sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum , judging by his description of Hal as, “Mr Lah-de-dah Gunner Graham”. Finally, Alex’s torturous organ playing is pure Les Dawson !
Oh, and the bit where the geography of Honolulu Heights goes all MC Escher is rather reminiscent of the 1982 Doctor Who story “Castrovalva”. It’s almost as if writer Daragh Carville is a massive Doctor Who fan .
BEST LINE Oliver’s “Your madrigal singing is sub-par at best!” is a strong contender, but it has to be Hatch’s final villainous rant:
“I’m getting stronger every day. And when the time is right I will rise. And then I’m going to drain the world dry. I’m going to lap up every drop of hope and love and feel it run down my chin. I’m gonna turn men into beasts and ruin their women and spit poison into their children, I’m going to scorch the Earth with proper Old Testament despair and teach them that the Gods are there to be feared, and everything you love will die and everything you’re scared of will come true!”
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman