Last night, the world finally got to see the U.S. version of Britain's monster hit, Being Human. We've given you our initial reactions, but now let's get down to the nitty-gritty details. What worked and what didn't? Spoilers ahead.
The premise is exactly the same as the original BBC series. A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all wind up sharing the same apartment. Together, they forge a fast friendship and find out that it's a lot easier "being human" while in the company of other monsters. Like the title, the show is full of obvious metaphors — and plenty of hammy moments — but that doesn't make it any less fun.
All in all, I loved the pilot — there's a lot of work still to be done, but I ended the premiere episode eager to visit with Aidan and Josh again. And hopefully, Sally will grow on me as time goes by. But the most important question that everyone has been asking is, how does it compare to the original?
Luckily, there are a lot of similarities between the two versions. Mitchell (the BBC vampire) and Aidan (the Syfy vampire, who has the same name as the BBC's actor) both treat their need to suck blood more like a sex addiction. Oh and they're both insanely hot and show a lot of upper thigh. George (the BBC werewolf) and Josh (the Syfy werewolf) both stumble through their day-to-day routines, making fools of themselves and getting swatted on the nose by society over and over. There's a secret vampire cult that wants Aidan back, they both work in a hospital etc. etc. The framework that holds up both Being Human series is almost exactly the same. And yet, these two series couldn't be more different.
The Americanized series spends a lot of time laying the ground work for each character, in a much more Munsters-esque manner. Hell the audience is even treated to a "moving-in montage," where Josh and Aidan do all sorts of roommate things like bringing in a table, mopping, and making eggs! Ah, monsters — they're just like us! It also seems like the US version is dedicating a lot of time building up each character separately, before playing around with the group dynamic. Possibly not the smartest move as the main draw of the BBC version is the trio's rapport with one another, but hey, it's the first episode. Also this slow burn of single character development could be due to the fact that the group has yet to gel on screen. This clip pretty much sums up everything I love and dislike about the new Being Human series:
Sam Huntington (Josh) and Sam Witwer (Aidan) have this scene nailed. The banter, the blocking, the timing — it's perfect, and it feels totally unrehearsed. Sadly, Meaghan Rath (Sally) is out of step when she tries to keep pace with these two. That's not to say that she isn't delightful (she has a few great moments when asking the boys if they're about to go all Twilight on one another) but she still feels out of place. Perhaps it's the new US characterization of Sally. The UK ghost girl (Annie) was a bit of a flakey ball-buster, peppered with moments of motherly kindness and wrapped together with a sense of tragedy that was fostered by being ignored in her own home since the time of her death. She felt like a good friend, albeit a complicated one. The US version of Sally feels more like a little sister. Completely sweet, but also a little needy, and clearly overcompensating for something. We seriously hope she can veer away from this "Wesley Crusher/Dawn Summers" territory.
But as we said before, it's still the first episode. What did work, worked exceptionally well. Josh and Aidan have instant chemistry, and both fulfill their all-important roles as adorable nerd and walking sex magnet. They're a perfect pair, really. Josh can make any joke funny — and trust us there were some bad jokes getting lobbed around this episode. (Was I the only one who didn't find the masturbating to Nova joke funny?!) And Witwer is so ridiculously handsome, you could just watch him make faces at the camera for hours. And they're damn good faces too.
Another shining star in last night's premiere was Lost and Supernatural's Mark Pellegrino. Playing Bishop, the leader of the secret underground vampire club, Pellegrino managed to do the one thing we've never seen before: sell this character. We've read and watched hundreds of bad guys with a never ending vendetta to snag the show's hero back into the fold of evil. But for the first time in the long history of this stereotypical character, we saw something new. Watching Bishop and Aidan trade words, you could really see the love coming from Bishop. It was less nefarious, more heartbroken ex-lover, and we love the way Pellegrino is playing it.
Will Syfy's Being Human ever be as gritty as the UK version? Probably not. The original is infinitely darker. Who could forget when George "changed" in front of a horrified Annie? She goes from chirpy roommate to terrified girl shuddering on the front steps, and meanwhile George is stuck naked, ashamed, and helpless to her prying eyes (even though he does give her permission).
What the American version does have is Aidan and Josh, two characters that not only play off of each other wonderfully, but can switch from playful to dead serious in an instant. The last few moments of the premiere lock Josh and his sister alone in his werewolf cage — moments away from the big transformation. It wasn't the werewolf claws that gave us chills, but the look in Josh's eyes when his sibling slammed the door closed, locking them in together, followed by the frantic phone calls he had to make, in hopes of saving her life. It was really well done, and had the desired "oh shit" result for the viewer.
So no there's no naked-roommate shaming happening, but there is a bit of darkness in each character separately. Aidan murders his date, and keeps it a secret from Josh, instead he calls on his old vampire buddies for help. It should be interesting to see just how risque the US version will go with Aidan's future and sex/blood addiction. We know the actors can pull it off, we guess it all depends on what material they're given.
Also, we have to give props to the music and a few exceptionally gorgeous exterior shots (an example below). We touched on the annoyance of the shaky cam and Syfy Look in an earlier review, but it wasn't as prevalent in the first episode (just in a few sequences shot in the hospital). The soundtrack really helped tie a handful of scenes together, and for a pilot, it worked. Not so sure they can keep up the sad songs throughout the year, but it was perfect for the first go round.
Overall the show found its own place among the world of paranormal TV shows, without retreading the same old tired shtick of star-crossed humans and their supernatural lovers. We're exceptionally excited to watch Aidan continue mugging for the camera, and we've got our fingers crossed for additional exposed vampire thigh shots, we're already committed to Josh and we're hopeful that Sally will come into her own. All in all, we had a good time with the US Being Human cast, and we'll be back next week.