Tuesday, January 18, 2011

US 'Being Human' is no UK 'Being Human'

Britain's "Being Human" is a cult sci-fi hit about vampire Mitchell, werewolf George and ghost Annie who share a flat and try to lead normal lives. It can be at times dark, scary, funny and touching.

Somehow with all the supernatural elements that fold into the stories, the show manages to feel heartbreakingly real. This is due to the chemistry of the show's stars. Aidan Turner plays Mitchell as a struggling addict who desperately aches for something he lost long ago. Russell Tovey's George constantly carries the pain of his curse around, going so far as to treat the wolf as a separate entity. Lenora Crichlow as Annie is the soul of the trio, she's the one that holds them together.

It is these characters and the chemistry between the three leads that keeps the show intensely fascinating and instantly watchable.

The American version has the same premise with a few changes, but it lacks the heart of the original. Unfortunately, that's the one element that it needs the most.

In Syfy's new "Being Human" Sam Witwer plays vampire Aidan as a smug hipster who tolerates Sam Huntington's uncool werewolf Josh. Whereas Mitchell appreciates George's nerdiness as one of those sought after human qualities. While the comparison is slightly unfair, they asked for it by doing a remake.

Possibly the most offensive part of the new show is the way Sally the ghost is portrayed. She seems more like a petulant child than a caring friend. And where Annie cares for Mitchell and George as her friends and contact to the outside world, Sally felt selfish and unlikeable.

The show's one saving grace was casting Mark Pellegrino as the sinister vampire Bishop. Every scene he was in instantly became better and gave me slight hope. Unfortunately, he would leave and then I was still stuck with impersonators.

And that's exactly what it felt like to me, impersonators pretending to be Mitchell, George and Annie.

Maybe I'm too close to the original to be objective, because other fans liked it, but for me it just didn't work.

The UK "Being Human" is slated to begin its third season in England Jan. 23, then will premiere on BBC America later in the spring. Interested fans should check out the original and not bother with a poor substitute.

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