Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pilot Review: Being Human

Being Human (Syfy)
Premiered January 17 at 9pm

The first of two American remakes of British shows I haven’t seen that premiered this past Monday night is Syfy’s extremely supernatural “Being Human,” the story a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost who all live together in the same house. It sounds a bit silly, and it sure is. It’s like “The Vampire Diaries” tweaked for the Syfy brand, made to stand out just enough from relatable, accessible television so as to be genuinely uninteresting and relatively off-putting. In comedy, big can often be a problem, and subtle implications can often be far more effective than sheer volume. In this case, that’s also a wise cautionary tale to which the show doesn’t adhere. Werewolf Josh is as over-the-top as can be, and it’s hard to watch any of the scenes featuring him as a human, let alone a werewolf, since Sam Huntington overacts like no one’s business and seems intent on turning what could be a rather dark, haunting show into an all-out comedy. Sam Witwer, a veteran of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Smallville,” is the complete opposite of Huntington’s werewolf as vampire Aidan, who has to be the most depressed-looking vampire I’ve ever seen. He’s joyous on his initial date, but after feeding from her and realizing he’s got nothing to live for (a pun, of course), it’s impossible to cheer the guy up, making his friendship with Josh seem all the more…peculiar. And then there’s Meaghan Rath’s Sally, who is utterly useless as a ghost who can’t do much but offer advice and chastise her two roommates for letting their supernatural situations get the best of them. Sally would work much better as a foil to the two more active boys, yet she’s equally unhinged, and confining her to the house may not give her much of an opportunity to grow. Mark Pellegrino, last seen on “Lost” as Jacob, should be good in the role of Aidan’s vampire mentor, yet his work in the pilot leaves much to be desired. The fact that Josh’s sister just happens to follow him as he visits his secret werewolf-proof lair for the first time is awfully happenstance and a bit much to be believed, and I found myself rolling my eyes well before that took place. Perhaps someone who’s seen the British original can enlighten me – how does this one stack up? On its own, it’s quite unimpressive and unengaging.

How will it work as a series? With three distinctly unique characters with plenty of drama in their personal lives further complicated by the existence of their powers, there’s quite a bit of ground for the show to cover creatively. Having the three as co-leads of sorts should enable the show to evenly spread plotlines between them so that the show doesn’t focus too heavily on one particular superbeing. It’s not for me, but for some, especially those who watch other Syfy shows, it may appeal.
How long will it last? The BBC original is just about to start its third season, and the ratings for the Syfy pilot were extremely high. The Syfy network has been able to sustain a number of shows with eccentric characters for a few years now, and so I have little doubt that this series will quickly join the ranks of the multi-season dramas that it has on the air with a season two renewal.

Pilot grade: D+

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