Being Human: The Complete First Season Review

In the last decade studios have charged ahead with renewed gusto and the “bright” idea to remake a British series for American audiences, but most of the time the American replica fails to capture the cultural zeitgeist that made the original so appealing or was misguided from the start. And though we were spared an American take on Spaced, we have had to endure a MTV-ized take on Skins (which got entirely lost in translation) and a (thus far) clumsily adapted Top Gear. Successful adaptations like The Office are few and far between, so when SyFy’s take on Being Human does a respectable job translating one of the BBC’s most recent successes you have to remember just how rare this really is. It may not be perfect, but the American Being Human manages to avoid the soap opera intrigue of other vampire and werewolf features and concentrates more on character development and decent writing.

United under a single roof in New York, there live a ghost named Sally (Meagan Rath) who died under mysterious circumstances and can’t seem to get over her fiancé (Gianpaolo Venuta), Aidan (Sam Witwer) the vampire who denies himself the rush of live meals so he doesn’t fall back into the brutal pack with the other vampires, and Josh (Sam Huntington) who left his life behind after getting mauled by a werewolf and must now deal with the curse himself every full moon. The three offer one another emotional and logistical support as they deal with family, malicious mentors (Mark Pellegrino, Andreas Apergis), a slowly building war between vampires and werewolves, and coming to terms with their specific circumstances.

Yes, the premise of Being Human sounds like a bad Halloween joke: “A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost move in together…” Or maybe it sounds like the sequel to the novelty classic “The Monster Mash”. All jokes and catchy holiday classics aside, Being Human could easily be accused of attempting to cash in on the current fascination with vampire and werewolf stories (undoubtedly stoked by Twilight and, before that, Underworld), and it clearly manifests a bit in casting the main vampire as something of a Robert Pattinson lookalike. Being Human, however, has plenty of things its predecessors doesn’t like some well-written dialogue, character-driven stories, and a central concept that actually makes you care about the characters: their humanity (or lack thereof).

With all Being Human has going for it, it still lacks something very important: depth. The characters might have it and the things they do make sense within the context of their self-discovery, but the parts never pull together to create that element that would keep you coming back for more on a week to week basis. The problem stems from the show telegraphing its most important twists before they ever hit the screen, sometimes multiple episodes beforehand, and when they finally do surface, it’s not a huge emotional payoff or a reveal that will bind us to the characters’ plights and consequently our seats. When you have the episodes available all at once, it’s easy to overlook that problem; the option to rapidly consume the show and not piecemeal with week-long breaks means that the points don’t have as long to gestate in our minds and that the wasted pay-off hasn’t forced us to wait weeks to get there, but that’s only half of it.

Perhaps the biggest crux of the series is its decision to rehash the vampire and werewolf rivalry. It doesn’t really receive a new angle by having one of each living together. All it does is remind us how worn out the subject matter really feels. It gets so tiresome at points that it just can’t compete with Sally’s story that slowly but surely gathers steam with each episode.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

The featurettes are decent, but fans hoping for audio commentaries are out of luck. First off is a straightforward “making of” piece as well as one discussing the pros and cons of each of the trio’s unique curses. The set is rounded out with a look at the cast that comes twofold in the forms of interviews as well as the Being Human Comic Con panel.

"Being Human: The Complete First Season" is on sale November 15, 2011 and is not rated. Drama, Fantasy, Horror. Directed by Adam Kane, Paolo Barzman, Charles Biname. Written by Jeremy Carver, Anna Fricke, Toby Whithouse. Starring Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, Gianpaolo Venuta, Mark Pellegrino, Sarah Allen.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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