This review may contain spoilers.
"We just want the same things that you do. A chance at life. At love. We're not so different, in that way."
What happens when a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost stop being polite and start getting real? You get what, on paper, sounds like the setup for an awful joke, but it's actually an hour of quality television.
When the Syfy remake of the British horror series "Being Human" was first announced, plenty of people were weary. American remakes often have a stigma, and since the original had just barely even ended its second season, it seemed like another unnecessary remake.
It may not be necessary, but it's definitely good.
We can thank the showrunners Jeremy Carver ("Supernatural") and Anna Fricke ("Everwood") for making a show that definitely holds up to the original while also managing to stand alone as its own series. The reason that "Being Human" works in the first place is the balance between the horror elements and the straight drama (and, at times, comedy); so having two showrunners known from their respective work in those genres just makes sense. Also, Carver wrote some of the best episodes of "Supernatural," and while it's a loss for that program, it's a great gain for this one.
Plus, the actors and characters are worthy of the material.
If there’s one thing Sam Witwer knows how to do, it’s brood and kill and still make us feel sympathy for him -- he proved that in the eighth season of "Smallville." So casting him as the vampire Aiden was an obvious choice. Unlike the U.K.'s Mitchell, Aiden’s (and vampires’ in general) bloodlust is driven by necessity -- instead of it being the drug metaphor, it’s actually essential to his life. And it’s much easier to feed off of someone you actually have romantic interest in than discretely steal blood from the hospital you work at. Sam Huntington’s Josh is nowhere near as spastic and bumbling as Russell Tovey’s George, but he still pulls off quirky and awkward. For example, he meets a pretty girl and instead of saying a simple hello, he has to pull out an accent and say "Hello, m'lady." Meaghan Rath is more of a newcomer in the acting game, and if the character of Sally goes the same direction as the U.K.'s Annie, it’s probably best to say less for fear of spoiling the massive plot surrounding the character.
What remains to be seen as of right now is the "Syfy style" of the series that some critics have pointed out as beginning with next week’s episode. The filming of this already looks different (in a good way) than anything the network already has airing, so if it starts to look like "Warehouse 13" next week, their might be a problem.
Points Of Interest
1. The amount of nudity in the episode was surprising, even for a cable site like Syfy. Is it going to be a mainstay on the series, or was it just an easy way to keep the female audience watching?
2. So far, the performances haven’t been carbon copies of the British counterparts. Maybe the fact that this cast had only seen two episodes of the original series, at most, was a good idea.
3. Aaron Ashmore was also up for the role of Josh. We still got a Jimmy Olsen to play the part in the form of Sam Huntington, but sometimes you just can’t help wondering what would have happened if both Sam Witwer and Aaron Ashmore had found post-"Smallville" bliss on the same show.
It probably has to do with Carver’s "Supernatural" past, but the interaction between Aiden and Josh almost borders on brotherly, with Aiden as the (more worldly -– but still, not all together) older brother. In fact, Aiden’s "You little slut" to Josh in the beginning of the episode sounded like something Dean Winchester would say to Sam (if he hasn’t already). The bromance between these two characters is something that was rather appealing in the original series, but it sadly disintegrated over time (especially in the second season). Sally asking the boys if they were going to go “all ’Twilight’ on each other” is something we’ve come to expect in these types of stories (not even just recently); so their strong friendship is one of the most important aspects of the series.
In the Bishop (Mark Pellegrino)-Aiden relationship, both showrunners could also take credit from using what they know, specifically in the dysfunctional father-son relationships of their aforementioned shows. Family is emphasized here in a way that it isn’t in the original series, and that might just make it something special. Bishop is evil -- there’s no doubt about it -- but his interactions with Aiden came across as those of a father awaiting the prodigal son. Pellegrino’s acting is superb, as expected, as is the writing for him.
What Didn't Work
Despite the humor of her introduction, Sally is currently the weakest link of the trio. Half of this has to do with the lack of material she was given in the pilot, but the other half is the fact that Meaghan Rath’s resume prior to "Being Human" isn’t very expansive, nor is it very impressive. While, even in the original, this character is a bit underrated compared to the boys since she can’t really do anything, Meaghan’s British counterpart, Lenora Crichlow, makes the character work with an extremely captivating (and at many times, heartbreaking) performance. It remains to be seen if Meaghan can fill those shoes, especially when her emotional scenes in this episode left much to be desired.
Also, while Josh’s sister was a refreshing change from the original (where it was an ex-girlfriend), the character sadly wasn’t all too interesting. Or, from the closing scenes, very smart.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“There Goes The Neighborhood, Part 1” was written by Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke. It was directed by Adam Kane.
"Being Human" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.
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