I struggled with the decision of whether or not to watch and review the US remake of Being Human, because I hold the original so near and dear to my heart that I hesitated to watch another version. Luckily, my partner, Thomas, did want to try it out, so he agreed to watch and review it for the site, and what he says basically confirms exactly what I’d expected of the show. Without further delay, here’s his take on it…–Rob
I just want to start out with my cards on the table here. I am a huge fan of the original UK version of Being Human. Huge. It might just be my favorite show of all time. That said, I felt that I had to give the SyFy remake a fair shake–as fair as I possibly could. No matter what anyone says, it’s impossible to put aside something you already know or have seen, and I’ve seen the UK Being Human three times through, at least. But I’ve gone into the Syfy version with as clean and unbiased a slate as can reasonably be expected of anyone, even a professional reviewer (which I am, admittedly, not). And so I did, and here is my take on the Syfy remake.
Things did not get off to an auspicious start, unfortunately. For a show entitled Being Human, the opening sequence immediately puts you on the footing that these characters are Other. Monsters. The line is drawn, not from monsters to humanity (as one might expect from the show’s title), but between them. The impression you get is not one of monsters who are striving to be human, but monsters who are trying to cope with being monsters, to find their footing in the dark place of a world in which they live, and that humanity may only sometimes visit.
And not to nitpick, but if the werewolf (wearing a dress scrounged off a nearby laundry line, of course, for maximum “comedic” effect) changes in the woods every month, why has he arranged for his vampire friend to pick him up, not on the edges of town, but in the middle of a street that’s got a number of early morning pedestrians walking up and down it? It just seems like lazy writing.
And then we get to the first cohabitation discussion, which only once touches on humanity, on “living like normal people.” The rest is about being a better monster, living a more dignified monster life. In fact, throughout the entire premiere of this show, there is no dialogue about what it means to be human, or what it might mean to try and rejoin the human experience. There’s just some bland humor, here and there, and an unhealthy dollop of angst all around.
I can’t shake the feeling that the writers of this show picked up the (surface of the) premise but completely dropped the point.
Now, admittedly, that assessment is somewhat colored by comparison with the UK original. But then, the show is still called Being Human, so one would think that dialogue might actually arise, at some point.
I will, however, freely admit that there were two things that caught my eye about this remake. The first is the inclusion of Mark Pellegrino as Bishop (the Herrick character, for those who have seen the UK version). The second is the glimpse of family we get when Josh (the werewolf character) is found (quite by accident) by his sister, who then confronts him about his disappearance.
Other than that, the writing is downright lazy, at points, and shows a complete lack of understanding about the actual premise of the show they are purporting to remake. At the cliffhanger ending of this episode, I’m extremely skeptical, from a viewer standpoint, that Sally has any real, emotional motivation, to come to Josh’s aid (given that they have, to date, exactly zero positive scenes together). It is just not convincing, from a writing standpoint. Add to that the fact that the three main characters have, at this point, only the barest sketching of on-screen chemistry, and we’re left with a show that has a lot of potential, but as of now, is just a fairly bland genre offering.
And that is speaking of the show on its own merits, without bringing in the inevitable (and yes, necessary, in this case) comparison to the original source material.
Do I think it could get better? Yes. Can I see how someone who hasn’t seen the UK version might think this one is good? Yes. Am I going to continue watching? Probably not.
Because, in the end, this show hasn’t offered anything more than the original (which is still ongoing and airing in Britain – Series 3, in fact, is starting this Sunday, Jan 23rd on BBC Three). This version takes longer to do less, and does it less well.
A show called Being Human really shouldn’t be so monstrously impersonal. These people were human, and in a lot of ways still are human, on a show called Being Human.
Failing to recognize that part of them, well, it’s just inhuman.