By Paula Hendrickson
A ghost, a vampire and a werewolf decide to share a house. Sounds like the setup for a joke, but it’s the premise of Being Human, a fun and thoughtful series that just started its second season on BBC America. That’s one of two summer shows to premiere recently that are still worth watching, even if you missed the first couple of episodes. AMC’s Rubicon is the other show.
(The good news: not only do these channels tend to re-air episodes frequently, but episodes should also be viewable or downloadable online.)
About the only thing this pair of shows has in common is they’re both good.
Being Human is entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time. This odd trio of supernatural beings want little more than to be treated like human beings. Granted, the werewolf George (Russell Tovey) is human as long as there’s not a full moon, but he struggles knowing how dangerous he can be to those around him, especially his girlfriend, Nina (Sinead Keenan). Mitchell (Aidan Turner) is a vampire who’s gone “clean” and no longer feeds on humans. George and Mitchell pass as ordinary humans by working as hospital porters and being housemates. The house they decide to rent is haunted by Annie (Lenora Crichlow).
Juxtaposed against some of the actual humans these three encounter, it’s a wonder they still desire to be human. In one first-season episode, it’s the actual humans who behave like monsters by persecuting George and Mitchell—who they don’t even know are supernatural creatures—and trying to drive them from their home. (If the humans knew about Annie, they probably would have torched the place.) Being Human can be dark and serious, but it can be quite funny, too. I mean, you have to love it when a guy who’s a werewolf screams like a girl whenever he’s frightened.
Rubicon is another sort of series entirely. It’s a slow-paced, cerebral political conspiracy thriller. I’ve seen two episodes now, and can’t quite adequately explain it, but the series centers on an obsessive government analyst and brilliant cryptographer, Will (James Badge Dale), who lost his wife and daughter on 9/11. After his boss (and former father-in-law), David, is killed in a freak train accident, Will starts noticing small details that don’t add up: Why would a superstitious man with a triskaidekaphobia park in space No. 13 the day he’s killed? And what do the clues he’s found hidden in crossword puzzles really mean?
At first, you might assume Will’s a bit paranoid after working for the government too long. But recent events have pulled him into a world of intrigue where (unbeknownst to him) people are watching him and others may be trying to thwart his secret investigation into what really happened to David. Who can he trust? What’s really going on? Was Will promoted to David’s job because he deserved it, or so his higher-ups can keep tabs on him?
Don’t expect tons of action or quick answers. Rubicon’s slow pace is intentional and addictive.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Aug. 4-10, 2010 issue