MLD Recommends: Being Human

Posted by under *like, Television |

So a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost walk into a bar…

All I kept thinking while watching the pilot episode of the American version of Being Human, which airs on Syfy, was that the basic premise of the show should be a bad joke or silly sitcom from the Sixties. In the new series, a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all come to reside in the same apartment as they struggle to hang onto their humanity and look towards each other for support. All they needed to do was throw in a zombie or a creature from some dark lagoon and hilarity would surely ensue. Instead, the series has proven surprisingly intense for Syfy; a network better known for bad made-for-TV/DVD movies like Mega Snake than compelling series. Dave Maietta, sci fi fan and guitarist from Bleed Radio Bleed, joins MLD for a discussion of the show.

KevinMLD: I stumbled onto the show via Comcast’s On Demand out of boredom one afternoon without knowing anything about it. I think I had previously read a press release that indicated it earned better ratings than MTV’s overhyped Americanized-version of Skins and that was about all I knew about it. I found the pilot particularly intense in that it had yet to establish any rules for the show and with the cliffhanger ending it felt like anything could happen. I don’t know if the episode would have made the same impact on me had I known the premise going in.

I have to say that in the end I was a little disappointed by the resolution of that cliffhanger. It reminded me of the cliffhangers you’d see in a tv series from the ’80s when a car would fly off a cliff before commercial and then when the show came back from commercial the situation would prove to be far less dire than it originally appeared.

Dave Maietta: In general, I think this has been a lousy season for serialized dramas. The past few years have seen the end of some really amazing TV, and I feel like the networks have been struggling to replace them. With the exception of a few under appreciated gems (Rubicon comes to mind), they haven’t been doing well. So when several of my friends praised Being Human – I finally decided to give it a try. (Those same friends also being huge fans of shows like Battlestar Galactica certainly helped convince me!) I sat down this past weekend to watch the first episode which was streaming on Hulu, and needless to say I was sucked in pretty quickly.

KevinMLD: I definitely agree this hasn’t been a good year for new dramas. The one possible exception in my mind being AMC’s The Walking Dead. The first three episodes of that series were remarkably strong. Though they may have lost me with the finale.

Dave: Being Human has done a great job thus far with keeping things grounded (once you get past the obvious vampire, ghost and werewolf thing) and made the focus about the friendship between the three roommates. I really feel the bond between them, which has been getting stronger the more the show progresses, and it has made me relate and empathize with the characters.

The fantasy elements are also done with fairly good taste. I’ve enjoyed the few moments where the show puts a new spin on the traditional vampire-isms – a casual mention of sunlight, a short but sweet moment regarding garlic, etc.

KevinMLD: One of the things I really like about the show is how straight they play everything. While there are moments of levity (usually involving Josh, the werewolf), it’s mostly a show about people battling the monsters within. Especially in the case of the vampire, Aiden, since Josh only has to worry about his monster once a month.

I’ve also enjoyed seeing Jacob from Lost as the villain. I’m interested in learning more about the vampire culture that exists in the city.

Dave: I have also been really into the casting choices. It’s great to see Jacob playing another Jacob-like character and Aiden is played by a Battlestar Galactica alumn (who coincidentally also played a vampire in an episode of Dark Angel).

KevinMLD: I think one of the strongest performance on the series… (at least the four episodes I’ve seen)… has been from the character of Rebecca. Her story has clearly portrayed the concept of vampirism as a metaphor for addiction.

On the other hand, one of the dangers the show faces is the way brooding vampires who don’t want to be evil have been explored so many times in recent years with franchises such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Forever Knight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and presumably Twilight all focusing on this concept. Personally, I tend to prefer my vampires to be monsters more like what you see in 30 Days of Night than mopey heroes like Angel. So far I don’t think Aiden feels like a character we’ve seen a million times before.

You mentioned the references to garlic and sunlight earlier, that’s something that really bugs me about the show. Monsters like vampires and werewolves have always been governed by laws and I want to know more about what rules govern the characters here. I definitely feel like I know more about Sally’s abilities than Josh and Aiden’s. I’m afraid they are going to gain abilities and weaknesses from episode to episode as they are convenient for the writers. The writers should have laid out the laws from the start so viewers understand the characters’ limitations. I particularly don’t like that Aiden can spend time in the sun and apparently has super speed. As I said, I just prefer my vampires to be more traditional.

Dave: There’s not much that I don’t like so far. Granted the show is still only a handful of episodes in, so my biggest fear is that they will resort to more diluted plot lines if it gains popularity. Considering Syfy has only bought 13 episodes, there is decent chance the show could finish the season strong. I don’t know much about the British version, but I do know that now in its 3rd season they plan to introduce a zombie into the mix… cue the impending hilarity! So I watch with skepticism that it will continue to hold my interest.

KevinMLD: I hesitate to recommend the show just because I know some TV snob is going to promptly tell me how much better the British version is. I get it. Michael Scott is the worst and Ricky Jervais is the greatest. Lets face it though, if that were really true would there be 133 episodes of the American Office and only 14 of the British one? Clearly the American version is always better. Maybe I’m being slightly facetious, but at least you don’t need subtitles to watch the American version.

Dave: I would certainly recommend it. As I mentioned earlier, I think this has been a bad season for the serialized drama – so when one comes along like this (even if it is only going to be 13 episodes), I feel it’s certainly worth checking out. As for the hardcore British fans? I took a look at the BBC version’s website, the blond chick’s hair is enough to keep me away. I’m sure the original is great… but for now I’m digging it’s American cousin.

KevinMLD: The British version of Being Human has done just 22 episodes in three seasons. So the American version has already shot more than half as many episodes in a single season. By the end of the second season, the American version will be well into uncharted territory. Here’s hoping it doesn’t involve a zombie moving in.

Related Posts with Thumbnails