Monday, January 17, 2011

Being Human

It sounds like the set-up to a joke: A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost move into a house together. But Being Human treats this idea with total seriousness, with the result being a supernatural drama that's a little too heavy on the angst. I've never seen the British series that this new American version is based on, so I can't say how faithful it is or how well it captures the feel of the original. But on its own it's a mildly interesting show that will probably stand or fall on how well it moves beyond the typical supernatural cliches. Right now I'm not really intrigued by the latest iteration of a secret vampire cabal or a bloodsucker trying to reform; the vampire stuff on this show often feels like a de-sexed version of True Blood.

The other two main characters have a little more potential; werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) is endearingly neurotic, and ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) has a sweet vulnerability and nice spunk. Still, there are so many supernatural-themed movies and TV shows out there that it's really hard to figure out a new direction for this material, and so far (I've seen the first three episodes), Being Human hasn't done it. The mythology is either rote or left unmentioned (there's barely an effort to explain why vampire Aidan is able to walk around during the day), and instead the focus is on the characters' struggles with their monstrous nature. In Aidan's case, it's a bunch of vampire cliches, although Josh has a little more complexity to his neuroses (he does get to be human for all but one night each month), and Sally's melancholy is more identifiable. There isn't enough yet to set this show apart from other supernatural-themed series, but there is enough that I'll probably watch it a few more times to see where things go.

Premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Syfy.

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