Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vampires, Werewolves AND Ghosts?!?!? Oh, My!

I read the pilot script for the original BBC version of “Being Human” before I watched the series. It was pretty fucking terrible. The premise involves a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost all living together. Seriously, that’s what it’s actually about. It’s like someone decided to capitalize on every aspect of paranormal zeitgeist over the past couple of years in one go (all it’s missing is a zombie outbreak). Despite myself, I decided to watch the show and was pleasantly surprised. Based on the log-line alone, this show SHOULD NOT work and it almost doesn’t. But casting is such a beautiful thing and it makes this show very watch-able. In fact, “Being Human” is currently entering its 3rd season in the UK and has been Americanized for Sy-Fy (it premieres January 17th – same day as “Skins” for those keeping track).

The UK version stars the wonderful Lenora Crichlow as Annie the ghost. On paper, this character is Miley Cyrus level annoying, but Lenora is so downright charming that you can’t help but love her. It’s also really interesting to see the actress tackle the character’s story-arc, especially when Annie finally learns the truth surrounding her death. The American version will feature Meaghan Rath who has been a staple on Canadian television for years. While I enjoy Rath, I don’t know if she has the ability to pull off the sweetness of Annie/Sally (I never understand why Americanized versions of shows feel the need to change character names).

The other two leads are the brooding vampire and the angst-ridden werewolf. What I particularly enjoyed about the vampire character, Mitchell (Aidan in the US) was that he wasn’t particularly vampirish. Sure he had over a hundred years worth of problems, but his vampire characteristics were always understated, which is a nice change from the current batch of pasty-faced whiners (“Twilight,” I’m looking at you). However, the promos for the US “Being Human” seem to be ignoring this and are making their lead look like this:
Note to the entertainment industry: pointy fangs and white makeup are NOT attractive.

Finally, there is the goofy werewolf, George (Josh for the yanks). This character probably struggles the most with what he is, even though he only changes on the full moon. Now, I realize that I have described this character as both goofy and angsty, but that’s really the only way to describe him – he’s basically a geek who has been turned into a werewolf. Much like the character of Annie, played the wrong way, George’s storylines border on obnoxious and mopey; however, Russel Tovey manages to ground the character.

What I particularly enjoy about “Being Human,” is that it’s a character-based drama that doesn’t exploit its gimmick. The three leads are just people trying to cope. The characters are three-dimensional and very well acted. I guess we’ll see how the American version stands up.

Fun fact: the creator originally conceived of the show as a drama focusing on three roommates: one with anger management issues, a sex-addict and an agoraphobic…so maybe there was some capitalizing on paranormal zeitgeist after all.

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