Being Human UK Episode 1 Review
It’s the safe bet that the majority of U.S. audiences who have heard of Being Human is thanks (or no thanks?) to it’s American adaptation. The premise is simple enough: What happens when a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost split an apartment? It’s probably what lent it such an easy crossover onto American television screens. It’s not the first show that’s taken the route. Back in 2005 The Office came to America, inspired by the 2001 UK version. In 2011, Skins came to MTV based on the 2007 UK version while Being Human was a more successful American import on the Syfy network, adapted from it’s much more recent 2009 UK version. According to those who were familiar with the UK versions (or at least, according to the majority) the US adaptations are always lacking.
Luckily for all of us, ALL SIX SHOWS mentioned above–Being Human UK, Being Human US, Skins UK, Skins US, The Office UK, and The Office US–are available on Netflix. Oh, it is good to be an American (even if our adaptations don’t seem to be as good).
No matter what is said from this point on, there is one fact: the US version of Being Human IS lacking when places side by side it’s UK counterpart. With the average UK episode clocking in at 57 minutes, the US equivalent (44 minutes) is lacking about 13 minutes a viewing. For those who can get a little impatient, this will seem like a plus: UK episodes with the fat cut off and minus the funny accents. If you go American, you won’t have to worry about getting bored by the “slow parts”.
Except having seen the pilot to the original version, I can’t say there are any slow parts to be afraid of. In fact, I’m happy it had 13 more minutes of breathing room because I was definitely appreciating the world building it got to accomplish. I’ll be able to see later on, but I can’t imagine they were able to get as much done with the US pilot (for obvious time reasons). And to add an upside for you, the American writing team has kept a strict diet: they have abstained from watching the second season of the UK show. That means for lucky us (at least starting at the second season of the US version) we’ll be able to enjoy two varied stories. But I’m getting offtrack. What did I think of the episode? Is it another shining example of British television (ala Luther) or is it good that American writers were given a chance to redeem it by starting over?
Gladly for me (and the hour I spent watching) it was very good. It’s rare you get this, but it felt like watching actual events instead of TV on my computer. And remember, we’re talking about werewolves and vampires here. Of the three characters (Annie the Ghost, George the Werewolf, and John the Vampire) this first episode focused more on the Vampire side of things. But don’t get me wrong, they didn’t skimp on the Ghost and Werewolf plots.
I have say, I’ve seen the pictures of the US cast and I prefer this group of blokes (British television has an effect on my slang). From what I’ve been seeing, British television is much more focused on getting actors for their parts while US TV prefers stereotypical looks. For the comedic werewolf, the US got Jimmy Olsen from Superman Returns and for the handsome vampire, they gave us a… generic vampire faced guy. You know the type. Big cheek bones and the impression that he always puckers his lips for the camera like a bad male model.
Suffice it to say, the UK version makes me much happier. To give you a little nugget into the first episode, Annie the Ghost has to deal with seeing her (ex)fiancee for the first time after her death, George the Werewolf finds himself without his usual safe house for his “time of the month” when the hospital he and John work at put it under construction for some new renovation, and the previously mentioned Vampire has to deal with keeping his hunger in check (par for the course) and the dangerous repercussions of turning a friend of theirs into his kind. Also, it seems the vampire community really wants to creep onto his turf. So many dying people they could save, after all. One high ranking member even throws out the idea of making their presence known to the public (True Blood, anybody?).
To boil it down, this is a show that I am very interested in watching more of. I love a show that can nail it on the first episode. I’ll go so far as to hate a series when one of it’s ardent fans say an equivalent of “it get REALLY GOOD starting with the first season”. I know it’s not an easy thing, but good television should START as good television.
So, was Being Human great British television or should you hop over to the US version in hopes it got it right?
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If you’re still on the fence (or the pond) about Being Human, check out the trailer below.
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For those who like their Special Features and Audio Commentaries, here are some helpful links to physical copies of both versions: