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Another vampire series? Yawnsville, right? I’ll admit, my mind may have drifted toward that thought when I first found out Syfy was adapting BBC’s Being Human for a U.S. audience. Way to cash in on the ever-growing craze of blood-drinking sexy people and manly, furry beasties. Having seen the first three episodes of Being Human, I feel I may have misjudged the series by its furry, fangy, ghosty cover and would like to appeal to those of you who did the same.
This is a relatively spoiler-free zone. All references to the show and characters are fairly vague.
Steve posted his early review this week, and while I think he did a fine job in laying out some of the key points in the series, I have a few more reasons to add to why you might want to give Being Human a look when it premieres this Monday night.
The short and skinny on the premise is this: Aiden’s a vampire. Josh is a werewolf. Sally’s a ghost. They’re young, pretty and saddled with secret identities due to their supernatural natures. They all end up living in the same house together and are friends despite their differences. It sounds very sit-commy when put that way but I assure you, this isn’t Three’s Company with claws. The tone of the show is fairly serious with snippets of humor and lighter moments laced throughout.
At one point, Sally’s voice-over says, “We find ourselves in an eternal nowhere, between human and thing.” This pretty much sums up the introduction to this show in a nutshell. Without giving much away as far as specifics, these three characters aren’t willing to embrace their supernatural nature enough to abandon what makes them human or the people they were. It puts them in an in between place where they’re no longer “normal” among regular people but they aren’t fully immersed with their own kind either.
The use of metaphor isn’t all that veiled here and that’s one of the things that works so well as the characters are introduced to us. Aiden’s thirst for blood is like an addiction he’s constantly fighting. Bishop is in some ways his dealer, constantly trying to coerce him into forgetting his humanity and diving head first into a pool of delicious, bloody carnage. Josh, the werewolf, is full of rage. His “monthly visitor” turns him into a monster but even during his better days, emotional control proves to be a challenge. And Sally is dead. Sure, she’s a ghost and with that comes a few perks but it also means detachment from the life she had and the man she loved.
Being outsiders among humans and among their own kind is what brings these three characters together. I mentioned that they are all friends despite their differences but the more I think about it, it seems more that it’s because of their differences and their shared sense of detachment from humanity that they fit so well with one another. They’re the misfit toys, unfit for their old lives, unsafe for the world and unsure of the choices they need to make or what kind of futures they can have. There’s a budding sense of family that is starting to emerge between Sally, Aiden, and Josh and that’s one of the things that’s most intriguing to me about this series.
There are bits of violence, some personal drama, and even scenes that sexify the whole vampire, blood-drinking thing but the characters’ stories are what come through the most. Since Battlestar Galactica ended, I’ve been waiting for another great, character-driven Syfy show and so far, Being Human has all the makings to be just that, albeit on a somewhat quainter scale (with a much smaller cast).
These actors are all somewhat recognizable without being major celebrities. In other words, they’re experienced, established and talented but not overexposed. We’re dealing with a show about vampires, ghosts and werewolves. Between that and the inner struggles of the three main characters, there are moments that are written in such a way that overacting could destroy the tension of a scene and quickly launch the series into campy territory but all of the above mentioned actors have a solid handle on subtlety and timing and that comes through nicely.
On the subject of potential, I’m thinking it’s likely that the writers will eventually take Syfy’s Being Human in it’s own direction from the story laid out in the original series, should the show be a success. Given the starting point, I’d say they have plenty of opportunity to do that and as long as they stay the course in focusing on the characters’ stories (and not resorting to relying entirely on the supernatural elements to sell the show), this version of Being Humancould really come into its own.
Syfy’s Being Human has an opportunity to explore the best and worst of humanity through the eyes of three former humans who aren’t quite ready to let go of who they were. I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
Being Human premieres Monday, January 17th at 9:00 p.m. ET on Syfy.
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