Over the holidays I received a beautiful promo/reviewer package in the mail from the folks over at SyFy promoting their new series BEING HUMAN, premiering this coming Monday, January 17 at 9pm ET/PT. Besides containing DVD screeners of the first 3 episodes, the package also has a really impressive scrapbook-like feel to it as it introduced me to each of the main characters in the series. BEING HUMAN has been adapted from the hugely popular British TV show of the same name and plot for an American audience. I’ve never seen the original British version so I couldn’t tell you if it keeps the same storyline or not. But I think there might be something here. There’s a few areas that need to be improved upon, but overall I think this series has potential.
The first episode, “There Goes the Neighborhood, Part 1” is exactly what a good pilot should be. We’re introduced to the three main characters Aidan (Sam Witwer), who’s a vampire; Josh (Sam Huntington), who’s a werewolf; and Sally (Meaghan Rath), who’s a ghost. Aidan and Josh both work in a hospital and know about each other’s unique condition. Aidan is what you might call a “recovered active vampire” in that he doesn’t stalk and hunt down victims. Instead he gets his blood from the hospital’s blood bank. He and Josh are already friends as the show begins and they are both fighting to try and fit into society. They finally decide to move in together in their efforts to be as human as possible. In their new 2-story brown stone they meet Sally, a ghost, who used to live there with her fiancee until she fell down the stairs and died. Sally’s fiancee Danny (Gianpaolo Vanuta) still owns the brown stone, and there are innuendos about Sally’s death being a little suspicious (at least it feels so to me).
The pilot, as mentioned above, does a great job setting up the characters as well as introducing a bunch of subplots that will carry on throughout the series’ run. The biggest subplot concerns Aidan: As the episode opens Aidan, it seems, has fallen off the wagon. He goes out with a girl, Rebecca (Sarah Allen), and during sex he looses control and feeds on her like a tick on a dog’s ass. So he calls his old buddy (and I do mean OLD buddy) Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) to help him. Aidan was turned by Bishop over 200 years ago and they used to go hunting together, and recently Bishop has missed the “good old days” and wants to bring Aidan back to his violent ways. There are also a lot of hints that Bishop has been recruiting a lot of new vampires for some big event in the near future. But Aidan, who’s actually repentant about his violent past, stays true to Josh in trying to fit in with humanity. We get a really good balance as we’re introduced to the characters and are given a lot of subplots that are most definitely setting up future episodes.
The actors playing Aidan and Josh are terrific. Aidan plays the brooding, melancholic vampire nicely without ever becoming the whiny, annoying TWILIGHT-esque vampire. and Josh plays his role as a neurotic, OCD werewolf perfectly. He does a really good job in portraying a cursed man. He also has most of the shows comic relief and has good timing to pull off the funny scenes while at the same time never letting us forget he’s also a cursed man. And then there’s Sally. Compared to the actors playing Aidan and Josh, Sally really sticks out as not being that strong an actress. As soon as she’s introduced, you’re immediately aware that you’re watching a TV show. She pulls you out of the moment as you become aware that she’s acting in a role (and not doing a very good job at it). I assumed this was her first acting gig, but she actually has a string of TV movies and shows under her belt (including the SyFy movie 10.5: APOCALYPSE). I think Rath needs to get some more experience outside the TV realm to help her grow as an actress. She plays the “bubbly, energetic girl” part well enough, but there’s also the part of her hat is struggling to come to terms with being a ghost trapped in this world, cursed in being able to see her fiancee but unable to interact with him. Unfortunately Rath just doesn’t have the depth to pull this side of her character off.
Adam Kane (who directed a handful of episodes of HEROES) directed the first 2 episodes and does a good job. The writing, especially the dialogue, could have been tighter in spots but overall I think BEING HUMAN is off to a good start. I watched the first three episodes with my wife and even she made the comment, “This could be so good if they just did something with the dialogue.” I agree with her (and no; not because I have to). The dialogue often went for being cutesy and tried its best to be clever instead of being “natural”. I mean we are dealing with three supernatural beings after all … let the dialogue get dark at times!!
But if anything gave me hope about the direction of BEING HUMAN, it was the third episode, “Some Thing to Watch Over Me.” In it the guys bring in an older ghost to essentially teach Sally how to be a ghost, but the main story is about Aidan. A cop, who’s now in his 40’s, recognizes Aidan from his childhood. It seems Aidan killed the cop’s dad when the cop was 10 years old and now he’s obsessed with proving that Aidan is the same man. What I really liked about this episode is that is ends on a dark and depressing note. It’s nice to know the writers aren’t afraid to explore such territory.
Overall I think BEING HUMAN has a lot of promise. Besides some of the supporting cast members and the actress playing Sally, the acting is strong, and the writers have demonstrated they aren’t afraid to explore darker themes. Given time I think BEING HUMAN will hit it’s stride and become a really compelling TV series. I’m gonna be tuning in every Monday night to see where it goes!! Check out the pilot this upcoming Monday night, January 17 at 9pm ET/PT.
Director: Adam Kane (first 2 episodes)
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 (for first 3 episodes
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains (for now; I bet we’ll see a zombie or 2 in the future)
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer