Being Human in the U.S.A.

Whoa. Déjà vu. I watched a show and then another one that looked just like it. How much like it? Was it the same show? Well, that’s still to be determined. I’m talking about Syfy’s Being Human.

When I heard Syfy was producing a remake of one of my favorite British shows I was less than enthused. Things like this rarely go well, one glaring exception being The Office, which has faired very well here in the states. But I will say this, besides the show taking place in Bristol, there isn’t anything inherently British about the plot of Being Human. It really is something that could be played in almost any local so I decided I’d give the new show a shot and try to keep an open mind.

I hadn’t kept up with much about the American Being Human before it aired so I was confused during the first episode when I realize they had changed all the characters’ names. Annie, Mitchell and George were now Sally, Aidan and Josh with actors Meaghan Rath, Sam Witwer and Sam Huntington. My only guess is this was an attempt to eliminate confusion when discussing the two different series because otherwise it makes no sense. I have not seen Rath’s work before, she hasn’t been in anything I would have watched, but you may remember Witwer from such shirtless roles as Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica and Doomsday in Smallville. He’s also the voice and likeness of Starkiller in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Huntington should be easily recognizable by comic fans, he played Jimmy Olsen in Superman Returns, he also starred in Fanboys.

With the first two episodes of the Syfy series watched I would have to say I got the same feeling from it that I did when I started the British series. Of course that’s because the premise is exactly the same, three miserable and lonely people (who just happen to be a ghost, vampire and werewolf) find each other and decide to live in the same apartment. Being a ghost, Sally can’t leave the apartment anyway so she didn’t have as much choice in the matter. Aidan, like Mitchell, is trying to be a good vampire and not eat people, while Josh is trying to keep his loved ones at arms lengths to prevent them from being hurt by his werewolf curse.

Besides the same premise and characteristics, there are some tweaks made to the American version. Unlike in the British series where Mitchell himself turns the character Lauren into a vampire when he slips up, the girl Aidan drains in this version (Rebecca) is unwittingly turned into a vampire by his “friends” instead. Speaking of friends, Jason Watkins’ Herrick, the lead vampire from the BBC series is played by a familiar actor here. You may remember him as Jacob from Lost, Mark Pellegrino. He’s called Bishop this time around and the respect/hate relationship between him and Aidan has remained. Sally’s story is identical to Annie’s so far (and I find it oddly amusing they gave her almost the exact wardrobe Annie wears) but Josh gets an added twist. His sister is brought into the show to signify his previous departure from family and friends.

Aidan not turning Rebecca himself is definitely a major plot change and similarly, Josh’s sister being added will also likely lead to the show taking different paths from the original show. It already has in a way. Even though the first two episodes were very similar, I don’t see the show continuing along the same path as the British version for too long. Or if they do, I don’t expect it to stay on the air. Without a doubt there are many people watching who have never seen the BBC Being Human but there are a lot like me who have seen both and simply don’t want to watch a copy when we could easily watch the superior version (which just began its third season).

There’s not as much blood and gore in the Syfy series, which the BBC show never shied away from. I expected that but bottom line, it’s still enjoyable. If you’ve never watched the BBC’s Being Human I would HIGHLY recommend it but for now Syfy’s Being Human is an acceptable substitute if you like ghosts, vampires and werewolves…being human.

13 Responses to “Being Human in the U.S.A.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ll have to admit that I never did watch the BBC version, but the SyFy version is definitely worth watching. It’s the whole concept of a vampire, werewolf, and a ghost all living together in the same house that makes it sound interesting to me. I do however have some great news for cable viewers here. You can get all of your favorite shows like Being Human in HD for less money than you are paying on cable by switching to DISH Network. As a DISH Network customer/employee I switched from cable TV to DISH, and have never been happier with my pay TV service.

  2. C says:

    I never saw the BBV version, but did start watching the SyFy version. I like it very much. Incredibly much more than 'The Cape' which is the other show I'm now watching due to my love for Summer Glau (but my god, is it awful!)

  3. Cubed_Link says:

    I unfortunately don't have BBC or BBC-A so I had never seen the original series. So I came into this series completely fresh and with an open mind. I must admit that so far I am enjoying it and as long as I do it'll be on my 'to watch' list. I like the give and take that the three main characters have with each other. I don't think that this show will stay on path with the British version. These American adaptations usually only stick the the original long enough to set the characters and main points.

  4. BDS says:

    Because I have access to this only thru, I have seen the pilot, but will have to wait 30 days to continue the viewing. I don't have access to BBC America and came in only with what I had read of the British show. For me it was a nice addition to my SyFy access on Hulu. I like the Sally story that has been shown. It looks good and I hope it can continue.

  5. Glucosamine says:

    really satisfied with the kind of review provided was looking for the same kind

  6. Eleni says:

    I haven't seen the British version (I'll try to check it out), but I've seen the first two episodes of the American one and I like it so far.

    Just this past month I watched the first season of Dexter which has both Sam Witwer and Mark Pellegrino in recurring guest roles. Though their characters didn't interact with each other on Dexter, it was still kind of funny seeing the two of them again.

  7. CDerosby says:

    good review Jill. I've never seen the original so I came into this with a clean slate and low expectations (not sure why we can't enjoy the original if it's so good, but whatever). I was pleasantly surprised. And I like the fact that this show doesn't shy away from the horror of their respective situations. A bad hair day down on the reservation or someone seeing you sparkle is the least of their worries.

  8. Macabri says:

    Good points all around.

    As far as the similarities in plot, they are really going to have no choice but to deviate sooner rather than later. SyFy is having a 13 episode season, and BBC's is only 6 episodes long. They'd be out of source material in a season and a half if they didn't make any changes.

  9. Psychotronic says:

    So far, I have found the Syfy version a bit of a letdown despite the added plot wrinkles with Josh's sister and Aidan having been turned during the Revolutionary War (as opposed to the UK's Mitchell during World War I). I'll stick with it for the time being, but I'm anxious to see the real thing when BBC America begins running the UK series again on February 19th.

  10. Arturo says:

    … I gave it a couple of eps. But the Whedon-lite dialogue and emo-montages just undercut the actors' best efforts too much for me. As for the Brit version, this year's 1st ep is already one of the series' best.

  11. I'm happy to see this review. I've only seen part of one episode of the BBC version, and none of the SyFy version. I intend to watch the BBC version at a later date, but what made me happy about this was the fact that I just had a conversation with a friend a few days ago on this very subject. He didn't know about the BBC version and was very surprised when I told him the SyFy one was a remake. He asked me questions to compare the two, but I couldn't answer him. Now I can just point him here–and I have–so that he can get his questions answered!

  12. A very good point Kat. It's still airing AND the DVD's are out. But yes, definitely add the BBC show to your list, I think you'd really like it.

  13. I haven't seen either (maybe the DVD set someday), but it seems strange to run an American version on SyFy when BBC America is currently running the one with the Brits. This isn't like days gone by when Americans had no access to the British shows that "Three's Company" etc. were based on.