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STUDIO: Anchor Bay Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 572 minutes
- ‘Making of’ documentary
- ‘What Would You Choose’ Featurette
- Comic Con Panel w/ cast and creators
True Blood meets Coupling.
Created by Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke (based on the UK series). Starring Sam Witwer as Aidan, Sam Huntington as Josh, and Meaghan Rath as Sally.
Aidan is a nurse struggling to turn his back on centuries of bloodshed; Josh is a lycanthropic orderly trying to manage his lunar transformations without killing anyone; Sally is a recently deceased young woman trying to come to terms with her untimely death and ‘move on.’ When these unlikely roomies end up sharing a house in the suburbs of Boston, they’ll find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real.
Every once in a while a show comes along that really breaks some new ground. That breaks down walls of tone and genre, throws out old cliches, and really makes you look at the material it’s presenting in a new and interesting way.
Being Human is not that show. It’s still pretty good, though.
Even discounting the fact that it’s a remake of a popular British series (which I’ve never seen, just to get that question out of the way), BH shamelessly recycles elements from half a dozen different shows… the snarky, self-aware tone of Buffy, the brooding addiction allegory of Angel, the gory over-the-top tawdriness of True Blood. It’s even got a few period flashbacks thrown in here and there, a la Highlander. Despite all this, it still manages to be a fun, involving ride… it kept me up at night, continually intending to watch just one more episode, and for my money that’s one of the marks of a great series, guilty pleasure though it may be.
Aidan’s storyline, focusing as it does on the byzantine politics of the vampire world, is the real backbone of the show. Like Michael Corleone, every time poor Aidan thinks he’s out… well, you know. Aidan wants a normal life; his vampdaddy, the current ruler of the Boston bloodsucker community, wants to bring his once-trusted protégé back into the fold; and the bad guy’s current lackey, a weaselly-looking fellow named Marcus, wants Aidan out of the way so that he can be the undead Godfather’s new favorite son. And on top of all that, he’s got a needy vampire girlfriend with self-control issues, to boot; Aidan is a man with a lot on his mind.
Despite the fact that it brazenly rips off Angel, True Blood, and even Forever Knight (!) by turns, Aidan’s plotline is my favorite element of the show. I like that he’s not a superhero; he’s not seeking redemption like Angel, or fighting crime like Nick Knight. He’s not even a love slave to some doe-eyed ingenue like Bill Compton or Edward Cullen. He’s just a guy trying to lead a normal life, and struggling with a lack of willpower and self-destructive urges along the way. (Who can relate?) He doesn’t want to stop the bad guys; he just wants them to leave him alone. It gives his character an interesting feeling of moral ambiguity, and I like that.
Werewolf-in-residence Josh also gets a pretty cool dramatic arc. He starts out wanting to stay away from other human beings (eschewing the company of his own kind, like Aidan); he’s reluctant to accept his undead co-worker’s invitation to move in together, and frequently complains about ghost girl Sally’s presence meaning that he can ‘never be alone.’ He comes around though, even getting some touching scenes with his family and a very fetching love interest along the way. Of course he also gets in trouble with the local vampire community, so you’ve gotta take the rough with the smooth, I guess.
What’s with all the vamp/werewolf hate, anyway? Underworld. Twilight. True Blood. All three franchises posit a world where, presumably among myriad other supernatural beasties, these particular two species seem to feel a marked lack of affinity for each other. Are the wolves just that tired of not getting any love from the goth chicks, or what?
And another thing about the wolves. I grew up in the era of kick-ass werewolf effects: the old Hammer films, the sadly little-remembered Fox series Werewolf, and so on. The best thing I can say about the wolf effects on Being Human is that, hell, at least it’s not Ginger Snaps. Not only is the CG quality passable at best; the creature design is just fundamentally flawed, from the ground up. These things look like a cross between Eeyore and the Egyptian god/anteater thing from Kingdom Hospital. And no, that’s not meant to be a compliment.
Sally is probably my least favorite of the main players. There are some interesting elements to her character… I especially like how the house is affected by her emotional state, with traditional haunting-type manifestations (strange noises, shaking, faucets spewing blood, etc.) occurring whenever she’s in a crappy mood. She mostly comes off as either distressingly cheery or depressingly emo, however, depending on the episode. Here’s hoping they find something more for her to do next year.
Luckily, the show has some great supporting characters to help balance things out. In particular, Mark Pellegrino (of Lost fame) is a highlight as Aidan’s vampire Svengali and former mentor, Bishop. Pellegrino is fast becoming the Sam Elliot of genre TV; like The Stranger, he’s by no means a complicated actor, but he does what he does, and he does it beautifully. I can’t wait to see him in his next performance as a seductive, quasi-mythic supernatural being with a God complex.
The show looks great, if a little on the dark side. The extras leave something to be desired, though… not a single commentary! What’s the world coming to? The featurettes are decent, especially the Comic Con panel… Huntington comes off as much more confident than his character, Rath acts like a ditz (so no change there, in other words), and Witwer does a hilarious Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. Good times.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars