Syfy Channel got its mitts on the amazingly dark and witty BBC series Being Human. And the network plans to subject this clever series to an Americanized reboot. We. Are. Not. Happy.
Syfy president Dave Howe explains to the Hollywood Reporter:
"We've always been keen on vampires and werewolves, and we loved the originality of Being Human, the fact that the fantastical creatures in it are very young, accessible and charming."
They loved the originality of it so much, they decided to remake it.
Syfy has ordered 13 episodes of a remade Being Human, which could appear on screens as early at next fall. Across the pond the original Being Human gears up for its second season this January. Howe promised this won't be a poor recreation of the series, seeing as most Syfy watchers probably have seen the original, but we've been burned before.
I was one of the loudest haters of the American-ized Office before it aired, because British humor and sensibilities don't translate well in the States. But the show hired good writers, invested in the production and found a wonderful cast. It's engaging, even though it lacks that dry British wit that made me fall in love with the original, and despite the lack of Ricky Gervais and the arguable fact that the American version has been around for far too long, it's still funny. (Though I shudder to think of Jim and Pam, "the baby years.") That said, for every successful Americanized show, there are many dismal translations, such as Life on Mars, Coupling, and a host of other terribly translated or poorly copied series.
Being Human is a completely different show from The Office. You can not translate the kind of dark humor that parallels the main characters lives, without the flippant British style that manages to just slip in a turn of phrase here and there. That humor is what makes the whole idea that a ghost, vampire and werewolf all living together in real life believable, the whole casualness of it all.
The writing is woven together so perfectly. Take the shocking weirdness that comes when we see one character's vampire porno, in which one person cannot be recorded because they're a vampire. The vampire porno itself becomes a whole other plot point, which I won't ruin here. But it's a good example of how Being Human blends darkness and humor together so perfectly. I highly doubt we can make these kinds of jokes on the Syfy Channel, with American writers and actors.
You can also bet that any and all edge will get stripped away, in hopes of garnering more viewers, so kiss the amazing sex scenes goodbye, along with violence, blood and realistic humor.
Plus you will never, never, never be able to recreate the chemistry and timing the trio over at Being Human have. It is by far one of the better ensemble casts working today.
In short, this is a disaster. The worst case is, we'll end up with just another CW-esque dramedy show about pretty white kids and their magical issues. To me, this is on a par with an Americanized Doctor Who, — it's not needed, and all but impossible to adapt properly.
How can this be saved? If Syfy decided to spend lots of money on hard working writers and producers that can actually Imagine Greater. Even then, they'd have to attempt at translating the dark humor without throwing in a green screen, adding reality-show components or trying to make it any darker than it already is. Then they have to cast three people who can sell this crazy premise. But they could always take that money and create new material, and just air the original Being Human along with said new series, instead of butchering a great UK show. Because if it ain't broke...
If this makes more people watch the original, then that's one thing this new reboot has going for it. Still I honestly just don't think it can be done. And now with the internet making foreign shows more accessible to the masses, I think there will be a surprising amount of push-back from U.S. fans.