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'Being Human' Series Premiere Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Jan 18th 2011 12:15PM
being human syfy pilot['Being Human' – 'There Goes the Neighborhood']

Syfy's new spin on 'Being Human' isn't straying too far from the original cult BBC series ... yet. The setup -- a vampire and a werewolf share an apartment with a ghost -- hasn't changed, and, like the original show, the new version follows the three supernatural twentysomethings as they attempt to live "normal" human lives.

Several scenes of this new pilot played like they were carried over from the the UK version's first episode, but with new actors taking on the lead roles. But that won't be the case for future outings; word is that 'Bieng Human' U.S. will start to stray from the events of the original series later this season.

This is probably a good time to tell you that I've only seen the first episode of the original show. I always meant to catch up with the BBC series, which ended its second season last February in the states, but I never really made time for it. So I don't have any firm expectations about the new 'Being Human' living up to the UK version, which means you won't hear me grumbling about how the Brits did this better or did that differently. Like a lot of you, I'm guessing, I'm mostly experiencing this show with a clean slate.

So on to the episode. 'There Goes the Neighborhood' introduced the main characters and set up their problems and the world they inhabit pretty well. I'm loving the quirky bromance between vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington), and I'm excited about exploring the show's version of a vampire underworld and learning more about the ins and outs of ghosts and werewolves.

The pacing was a bit slow here and there, and the tone was a little too dour and existential at times, but that's gonna happen when your show is essentially about three people endlessly bemoaning the state of their lives. I wasn't expecting the insane, campy fun of 'True Blood,' or even the guilty pleasures of 'The Vampire Diaries' here, but, judging by the pilot, 'Being Human' is gonna be a pretty gloomy show, which is kind of a surprise. Syfy's early promos for the show made it look like a lighter and goofier version of the UK series, but things got pretty serious from the start here with Aidan essentially murdering his date in a bloody fit (Or did he?) and Josh screaming in pain as he wolfed out alone in the middle of the forest.

I enjoyed Aidan's opening voice-over narration comparing his supernatural plight to how humans keep secrets and hide their darker desires. Aidan's opening words asked a very macabre question that set up the central characters' issues and the themes of the show quite nicely: ".. All we do is spin little lies ... What's the penalty? What are the consequences, really? 'I'm only human,' you say, and all is forgiven. But what if some cruel twist of fate makes you something else? Something other? Who forgives you then?"

Is there salvation for the damned? Can monsters that kill innocent women and woodland creatures be saved? Can they live "normal" lives and play nice with the rest of us? Pretty heavy stuff for a show with one of the silliest-sounding premises to come along in years.

Thankfully, 'Being Human' isn't all doom and gloom. There are funny jokes and silly sight gags, good music and clever lines (the 'Twilight' remark was a lot cuter than it had any right to be), and there's an underlying sense of hope that moves everything along here. These monsters might be damned, and they might complain about their lives, like, a lot, but they're also constantly trying to become better versions of themselves. What holds everything together is the bond between the three central characters.

We don't know exactly how Aidan and Josh found each other, and they don't seem to have a lot in common when it comes to personality -- Aidan's a calm and cool ladies' man while Josh is usually a quivering, awkward mess -- but it's fun and rewarding watching them look out for each other. The boys had differing reactions to Sally the ghost (Meaghan Rath). Aidan accepted Sally's presence in their new apartment almost instantly (she's not his first ghost), but Josh freaked out and mostly whined about how he'll never be able to be alone ever again. Josh wasn't completely OK with living in a haunted apartment by episode's end, but he was definitely on his way to learning to appreciate Sally before the credits rolled.

Casting is key here, and I think they nailed it with Witwer, a familiar face to fans of 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Smallville.' His performance is a nice balance of cool and brooding and, thankfully, he didn't overplay the "woe is me" aspect of the character. Huntington is a different story. He's not bad, but his performance was my least favorite of the three. Maybe it's just the nature of his sensitive, nerdy character, but the guy came off way too nervous, dorky and rude to be likable. It didn't help that Josh is the one who's constantly complaining about life, the world and everything. I lost count of how many times he told us his life sucked. Rath is bubbly and fun despite the fact that her story is probably the saddest one on the show. She died, but she doesn't know how. And she's seemingly destined to haunt the apartment where she once lived with her fiancé.

Each of the main characters got their own, mostly independent story arcs in the pilot. Aidan's plight with the dead girl and his creepy connection to Mark Pellegrino's Bishop was the most intriguing one. Pellegrino is one scary-looking actor – another example of good casting. We got a lot of info about Josh in the opening hour. It seems he disappeared and left his friends and family behind after he became a werewolf – self-inflicted exile. The fact that Josh chose to leave his life behind tells us a lot about him – his feelings of guilt run deep, but he doesn't want to put anyone he cares about in danger. Unfortunately, thanks to a sudden turn of events in the final act, Josh's worst nightmare might come true.

Episode one ended with a cliffhanger that will probably hook most genre fans into tuning in next week. (I've seen episode 2, but I'm not giving away any spoilers here.) I'm looking forward to following our supernatural trio and learning more about the show's mythology this season. But most of all, I'm looking forward to watching the three leads play off each other and seeing the characters grow as their friendships become stronger.

Other thoughts/observations:

- I really liked the subtle style of the vampire transformation, especially the way the whites of their eyes go black.

- Aidan's take on Josh's werewolf curse: "Useless condition."

- I hope Josh walking down the street in a dress becomes a running gag.

- Great use of The High Dials' 'Osisin, My Bastard Brother,' a favorite of mine, in the move-in scene.

- So vampires have Jedi mind control powers? Pretty cool.

- "Are you trying to scare us ... with Bon Jovi?"

- "This isn't Burning Man, you can shower!"

- "At least I don't masturbate to NOVA!"

'Being Human' airs Mondays at 9PM ET on Syfy.

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Being Human certainly didn’t hook me in right away but it grew on me and now I haven’t enjoyed a paranormal show this much since Buffy. Being Human has a great blend of wit and drama. As much as I love this show, I have to say I don’t know that I’d would enjoy it as much if I had to pay the inflated rates the cable companies charge for this programming. As a subscriber/employee of DISH Network I try to stay up on, not just the current shows but also competitor prices and offers; I can tell you that DISH has the lowest all digital prices in the nation. Rates that cable companies just can’t compete with. If you want to get the same programming for less, you should consider giving DISH Network a try. Check out DISH’s website for more information.

March 02 2011 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this U.S. version is practically an exact copy of the UK Being Human.
it has all of the same strengths and weakness.

two interesting actors (vampire & werewolf guys)

weakness; everything else;
basically the idea of the show was never really though out.
otherwise they would have realized that it did not work.
the UK show went nowhere, the two actors had to carry the show.
and it looks like this is true of the U.S. show as well.

ghost girl is plain and boring.
remember shes a ghost, she cant really interact with anyone,
for most of the show she can only be seen by the two main characters.
the only thing she can ever do is talk.
she should at least have been better looking. and she is the only girl in the series.

just take the most boring possible version of a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost.
through them in an apartment, and make them try to be norm.
thats the story.

January 18 2011 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I did not watch it as I preferred to watch the new episodes of Chuck and The Cape. I did catch the second showing of the episode after watching Kathy Bates in her new series. Thought Being Human was worth staying up late for.

January 18 2011 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Krista H

I am a huge fan of the original BBC series and so it was hard to watch this one without comparing it. It pales in comparison to the original both in terms of story and acting. I don't think I'll continue watching the US version; it's frankly just not all that good.

January 18 2011 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't say I had high hopes for this show, so I wasn't necessarily disappointed. But I gotta say, if you're expecting to have fun with this series (at least from what I can tell so far) forget it. It lays on dark human condition issues pretty thickly. It's almost grueling at times. But on the plus side, it's a pretty inventive way to deal with what normally would have been a slapsticky premise.

January 18 2011 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved it, and agree Sam Witwer's the strongest of the three leads, at least in this series' opener. And he's cleancut! which is a big, big improvement over the BBC version. Here, his vampire's named "Aidan", whereas over there, the character's named "Mitchell" and played by Aidan Turner whom the show runners evidently forced costumers to consistently make appear as if in desperate need of a bath. Huntington's "Josh" isn't Tovey's adorable, put-upon and oft naked "George" by any means; however, Rath's ghostly "Sally" was weakest/blandest, though, to me. Pellegrino's "Bishop" is near perfect casting, and here's hoping the powers that be at SyFy give Being Human US time to build an audience. If Haven can get renewed for a second season, anything's possible.

January 18 2011 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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