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TV Review: Being Human Moves Into the Neighborhood

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SyFy premiered a new show, Being Human, last night. Not that it’s really all that new. Made in Canada, and also airing up there, the series is based on the British series of the same name, that is about to start a third series. As such, this isn’t exactly an original, fresh show. However, for most of us residing here in the states, this will be our first taste of the show, and it left a happy flavor in my mouth.

It was hard to miss the promos, so you’ve likely heard the basic premise: a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost share an apartment. But from the wonderful monologue that opened the episode, it was clear that this series was about so much more that kitschy comedy with popular monsters. Vampire fans, especially, are not hard up for material at present. From Twilight to True Blood to The Vampire Diaries, all of which I do enjoy to varying degrees, we seem inundated with the stuff. Luckily, this show appears (judging only by one episode) to be different.

We first meet Josh (Sam Huntington, Superman Returns, Fanboys), a werewolf who ran away from his family after the change. We’re told that because of his condition, he hasn’t had sex in two years. I don’t know why, since I thought werewolves only turned on the full moon. That still leaves plenty of free nights. But Josh is the soul of the piece, the one who voices the alienated feelings. He also seems to be a truly good person. He’s a dear friend to the vamp, finding in him a kindred outcast, earnestly suggesting they get an apartment together. Within moments of the pilot starting, I was hooked on Josh’s arc and character, completely identifying with his emotions, if not his monster-ness. A line about how most people get to wake up from their nightmares sealed the deal. Josh is the best.

Then there’s Aidan (Sam Witwer Smallville, Battlestar Galactica), the vampire. The audience is led to believe that Aidan is also good, having been off of human blood and away from his kind for some time, not unlike most of the vampire heroes modern audiences root for. Yet, his behavior in the first episode tells a different story. First he kills a girl named Rebecca (Sarah Allen) while sleeping with her. Then he allows his sire, a vampire named Bishop (Mark Pellegrino, Lost, Dexter), who would like to bring Aidan back to his roots, to lead him to some sort of feeding club, where he drinks more human blood for the source. In case you didn’t catch it, Bishop is a bad influence. I assume Aidan will turn out to be good, since he’s billed as one of the main characters, and never portrayed in a dark, sinister light in advertisements, but I didn’t see much to like about him this week.

Rounding out the central trio is Sally (Meaghan Rath, 15/Love), who already inhabits the apartment that Josh and Aidan make their home in. She doesn’t know how she died, can’t leave the apartment, can’t touch or move anything, and basically just spies on whoever comes in. She seems surprised that Josh and Aidan can see her, but whether that’s because they’re also supernatural beings, or whether she didn’t know how to manifest herself visually until they came, or some other explanation, it wasn’t made clear. In the British version, Sally was killed by her boyfriend, the owner of the building. Going by the small bit we’ve seen of the guy so far, I can’t see him doing that. But I could be wrong.

Sally is foisted on the guys more out of circumstance than want. In a personality swap from the rest of the episode, Aidan sticks up for her, while Josh wants her gone. Stuck in one place, Sally didn’t figure much into the first episode, and it’s hard to image she will truly ever be important unless she can leave the house and / or interact with her environment. As such, I predict she’ll accomplish both soon.

I felt like the first hour of the show was too short. Next week’s episode is called “There Goes the Neighborhood (Part 2)”, so I can’t help but wonder if this was supposed to be a two-hour series premiere. Don’t get me wrong, the cliffhanger ending where Josh is trapped in a room with his sister, Emily (Alison Louder), who has just found him, and he’s struggling not to transform and kill her, was intense. However, the lighthearted preview for future episodes that ran just after that scene took away some of the tension, as if Josh did kill Emily, surely we’d see his character a lot more depressed than he was shown. Sometimes, I really wish networks would consider story when putting together commercials! Still, Aidan and Sally were dealt very unsatisfactory, open ended endings, so I’m anxious for another hour.

Overall, I am quite pleased, more so than I expected to be, with this pilot. SyFy more often than not makes lousy or cheesy shows and TV movies (Battlestar Galactica and Caprica excepted), so I’m glad to see some high quality programming. I can get past some of the corniness of other series on the network, but I think Being Human is already the best made, best acted, best written show on the network currently. I look forward to watching some more, and urge you to check it out.

Being Human airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. on SyFy.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
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