Being Human outscores True Blood on Supernatural Sunday

The British show drew first blood last night as two paranormal dramas returned for new series, says Paul Jones

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**Spoilers alert!**

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It was Super Bowl Sunday in America but here it was Supernatural Sunday (or perhaps Vampire Weekend), with two fang-heavy shows returning for that difficult fourth series.

Having lost head vampire and arch smoulderer Mitchell (Aidan Turner), as well as one half of its werewolf couple – Sinead Keenan’s Nina – BBC3’s Being Human looked like it could be in trouble. There were rumours that Russell Tovey’s George the werewolf was to take a back seat, too.

Meanwhile, its US counterpart, True Blood – airing straight afterwards on subscription channel FX – had all its main personnel intact (bar the occasional puncture wound).

Telepathic heroine Sookie Stackhouse, hunky Norse vampire Eric, brooding Southern bloodsucker Bill, plus the assorted shape-shifters, witches and werewolves, were all there.

But last night’s episodes demonstrated three things: change can be good; quality writing will out; fairies suck – and not in the cool vampire way.

Being Human managed a moving – if shocking – farewell for George, and established Annie the ghost, the remaining original member of the supernatural house share, as the heart of the show. It also sensibly promoted Tom (Michael Socha) to a central role (after all, it would have been a crime for someone with eyebrows that thick to be deprived of playing a werewolf).

Best of all, it introduced us to another vampire-werewolf-ghost household and showed us what time could do to such a trio. It was sweet, sad and very human.

True Blood, meanwhile, started badly. Like Being Human, its success comes from planting supernatural beings in an earthly setting (albeit hot and steamy Louisiana rather than the cooler climes of Barry Island).

So when it opened with Sookie’s adventure into the fairy realm, complete with toga-clad characters wielding tacky lightning bolts and closing CGI portals, it lost its perfectly poised tongue-in-cheek chic and began to look like something the SyFy channel might draw the line at.

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To labour that Super Bowl analogy just a little further, Being Human fans can celebrate an early touchdown for their team, but True Blood’s return so far seems more like an obscene gesture in the direction of its loyal followers.