Lytherus is happy to bring you our first dual review, of the US version of BBC’s popular Being Human. To help you see if this show might be worth your time, we discuss it as a stand-alone, and then compare it to the original. We hope it assists you in deciding whether the show is something you want to add to your repertoire. In case you want a little more, we’ve included the trailer for the US version at the end.
Being Human: Potential Winner
There is something appealing about the idea of a vampire, werewolf, and ghost living in the same house together. Maybe it is because most of the stories out there pit these creatures against each other, so the fact that they could choose to live under the same roof is intriguing. This core idea is what drew me to watch the pilot episode of Being Human, a new series on the Syfy Channel.
This series at its heart is about the struggles of life that people go through. Yes, they are supernatural people, so there was a large part of their efforts that involved watching them try and fit in. Even so, the characters were so human in their core desires and fears that I could still relate to them.
The foundation of the story revolves around Aiden, Josh, and Sally. Aiden, the vampire, played by Sam Witwer, is trying to fight the nature of who he is. He used to live the violent vampire life, but after a change of heart, he got away and is trying to live his life as normally as possible. He works with Josh, the werewolf, played by Sam Huntington, and suggests that they get a house together, so they can look after each other. His desire is to live as “a more dignified monster.”
Josh initially resists, but you see him struggling with his own issues, and even though all three characters were represented in the episode, Josh’s struggles felt the most real to me and seemed the strongest. His life’s a hot mess. He hasn’t seen his family in over two years, due to the fact that he disappeared when he was changed, leaving only a small note telling them not to worry. His love life is nonexistent, and he hates the daily stress of just trying to function, let alone be happy.
They decide to get a house, and on their first evening they meet Sally, the ghost, played by Meaghan Rath. She was living there with her fiancé and went to bed one evening to wake up as a spirit, having no idea how she died. She thinks she’s trapped in the house, but she’s also scared to try and leave; she doesn’t know if she’ll blow away into nothing with a small gust of wind, negating her entire current existence, tenuous as it is.
This first episode basically placed the groundwork for the characters, which will surely develop as the series continues. I thought they did a great job. Aiden, looks and mannerisms-wise, was a distinct cross between Vampire Bill and Edward. But it works for him—he definitely looked the part of the brooding undead. Sally was surprisingly refreshing and sweet, which was a nice contrast to the others. This didn’t take away from her personal struggles though– I definitely felt them. Of the three characters, however, my favorite by far was Josh. The actor played him in such a way that made him incredibly endearing, even though he changed into a mindless killer once a month. They were three completely different characters in their own right, well-written, and their diverse dynamics blended to create the unique balance that I believe will make this show enjoyable to watch.
I know this show was based off of a BBC show of the same name. I haven’t seen any episodes from that version, so I can’t compare, but I know that I really liked this version, especially the character development, the human aspect if you will, and I’m curious enough about where the story is going to watch future episodes.
Being Human: Disappointed is an Understatement
I’ll skip reviewing the show itself and stick entirely to comparing it to its original version, the British Being Human. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the new Being Human if I had never seen the original show – the acting isn’t bad, the story has potential, and the idea is interesting. It’s the adaptation that bothers me.
It appears that Syfy licensed Being Human for its name and character “types”, but nothing more. The differences between the original (and better) UK version and the new North Americanized version outnumber the similarities. Some of the changes are infuriating, others baffling, and very few are understandable. But hey, what have we come to expect from “adaptations”?
I immediately took issue with the show after realizing that the three main characters’ names had been changed. Why? What drove the show’s producers to desire such a ridiculous change? I soon discovered that changes such as these ran rampant; changes were made to the very core of the show, altering the values and quirks I loved most about the original series. I cannot fathom why many of these changes were made.
Having watched the episode twice, I am content saying that the adaptation of Josh’s character (known as George in the original) disappointed me the most. George/Josh was originally a nerdy, awkward, but loveable self-loathing werewolf, whose struggle with self-acceptance, nerdiness, and relationships was one of the most enjoyable plotlines in the series. The first episode of the adaptation was almost entirely devoid of this plotline, weaving a new (and less likeable) path for the character. His human version – his raw emotions, who he is at the core – no longer deeply contrast with who he is during a full moon.
The original series revolved around the lack of families for each character, focusing instead on the family-like relationship built between the three flatmates as the series progresses. They are each others’ very odd and quirky family. They sacrificed their relationship with their true families when they were “changed” and instead learned to confide in and love each other. Throwing this relationship — one I believe to be central to the original series – out the window on day one seems irresponsible. George’s family is never introduced, mentioned, or involved in the original series. It should have remained that way in the “re-make” to ensure the proper relationship between Aidan, Josh, and Sally. Introducing Josh’s sister in the first episode causes irreparable damage to the relationship that should be growing between the three.
We haven’t seen much of Sally (originally known as Annie), but from what I was able to gleam, the character remains similar to her remake. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Another major let-down was the handling of their apartment. In the original series, the trio’s flat was a character in and of its own. A large majority of the show’s scenes and storylines were focused in and around the house. The house was the group’s sanctuary, their one true harbor and the only place they could ever call home. In the reboot, the apartment is treated as a run-down pigsty that was in three scenes with no relevance other than it being where they meet Sally.
My last point may be argued as nitpicking but I couldn’t write an “I’m disappointed” review without mentioning the vampire’s coven. In the original series, the coven is located in a very stereotypical funeral parlor. The vampires act as tenants of the parlor, which is a front for their downstairs coven. It adds a fun cheesiness to the vampires and their home, one that I can’t seem to find in the abandoned warehouse they’re now located in. A bummer for sure, but definitely not a game-breaker.
In the end I feel that the producers of the North American adaptation cut the relationship between the characters from the show – a feature that made the original series lovable and enjoyable. I’m sure they have their own plans for their now-loose adaptation, but I can’t say I have any interest in watching to see where those plans lead.