Is it Worth Being Human?
- Friday, February 04, 2011
Here's a fun fact, did you know that many of America's highest grossing TV programs were adapted from British television?
The Office had its beginnings on BBC, while American Idol's notorious Simon Cowell initially judged for the British original, Pop Idol. Even Showtime's new hit series, Shameless, can trace its roots across the ocean.
It's likely the Syfy Channel wanted to cash in on this success when they first aired Being Human in January 2011, a North American adaption of a British drama. Whether the move will be as lucrative as they hoped remains to be seen.
Being Human revolves around three, twenty-something, roommates living together in a Boston townhouse. Aidan is a vampire trying to live out a "vegetarian" diet with little success. His best friend Josh is a werewolf who endures his annual transformations by retreating into the woods where there are plenty of deer to snack on.
With their double lifestyles wreaking havoc on their self-esteem, the two guys decide to invest in a small townhouse where they can be themselves in relative comfort. However, once settled, they discover their new home is occupied by a ghost named Sally, a former tenant of the house until her untimely death. Together the three misfits attempt to live normal lives, (or afterlives in Sally's case), in the form of dating, pursuing careers, and joining the neighborhood watch. All while helping each other cope with their darker natures.
Right now Being Human's biggest strength is its characters. Aidan (Sam Witwer), the de facto leader of the group, could easily have taken the Twilight road of handsome brooding that defines vampires today. Instead, the show has allowed him to display the leadership, wit, and depth becoming of someone over a century old. The bumbling, nervously-neurotic Josh (Sam Huntington) provides humor despite the shows serious overtones. Finally, the most impressive performance must go to Sally (played by Meaghan Rath) who deftly juggles the emotions of someone trapped in limbo but overjoyed with the rare delights it provides.
Unfortunately the shows acting talents don't extend to the rest of its cast. Emily (Alison Louder), Josh's sister, gives a rather wooden performance despite seeing her brother in the throes of supernatural agony. Another disappointment is Rebecca (Sarah Allen), Aidan's ex-girlfriend, who after being romanced, killed, and transformed shows near indifference to everything, including her placement among the undead. (Let's go eat some people, yeah!). It's these supporting characters that can really pick at the framework of Being Human.
Being Human also feels like it lacks direction. The characters all express their desire to live genuine, human lives. Yet despite this they seem to spend more time disposing of corpses than they do trying to fit in. In fact, watching the shows rising body count one may suspect their master plan is to kill off everyone until there's nobody left to pretend for.
In the end, Being Human is a toss up. If you're willing to be patient and wade through the first impression you'll be rewarded with a solid cast that takes full advantage of the interesting premise. Otherwise, Being Human may not be worth the effort.
*This review first published 2/4/2011
**Watch Being Human Mondays 9/8c on Syfy
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