I just finished watching the third season of the UK series Being Human. Note that now I have to differentiate between the UK series and the US series, because of course, the Americans, seeing something they like, have to remake it, thinking that Americans can’t possibly watch something that is from another country without needing subtitles, even if it is in English.
While I am all for remakes of foreign movies, because let’s face it, how many people actually watch a subtitled movie, I can’t wrap my head around the idea of remaking something that has already been done in English. I can’t wrap my head around remaking classic movies into modern movies, even if they title them differently.
The US version of Being Human is actually ok, if you haven’t already watched the UK version. The UK version is something that only comes along every now and again, something very special, where the classic tropes of vampire versus werewolf have been turned on their heads and spun around until you have no idea where things are leading.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the US version knows where the UK version is going and is trying to sneak there first with their Dutch vampires that are so old they only have to wake up every 50 years or so. The UK version ( the real version in my opinion) has just introduced the old ones into the story line, at the very end of season 3. I am not going to give things away but I have no idea what they are going to do in season 4, or if there is going to even be a season 4 with how season 3 ended. I was gobsmacked, I was crying, I was yelling at the screen, all in the hope that the intrepid trio would prevail against horrible odds. I was wrong.
The thing I like about series produced by British stations is that there is rarely a happy ending. Things are never predictable. You can never rely on the fact that your favourite character is even going to be there the next episode. While I hate the fact that your favourite might die, it is also far more dramatic when you don’t believe that you favourite is safe and the suspense of knowing they might die is much more dramatic.
That is why I like Joss Whedon. He wasn’t afraid to get rid of main characters. That is why Buffy was so popular. People could never predict what would happen, so you just rolled with it. I would have to say that Whedon’s series were the most British American series that I have ever watched. Does that even make any sense? I am typing this quite late at night and having just finished watching season 3 of Being Human am feeling quite emotional.
This is a television series I have come to quite late. I knew it existed and several people recommended it to me, but the whole vampire werewolf dicotomy didn’t really appeal at the beginning. I was reluctant to add yet another vampire show to my watch list as I was already really into True Blood and Vampire Diaries and I thought that yet another show with Vampires was really taking it a little too far.
How wrong was I? Very wrong. This show is far more about different people living together and what makes someone human than about the vampire thing. Also, the vampires in Being Human are certainly not heroic or nice, even the main character, although he certainly tries, he doesn’t succeed.
The US version has tried to be a faithful remake without slavishly devoting itself to the storylines of the UK series, but I just can’t get as involved in the characters. They are a little more shallow than the UK series, a little more safer, a little more PG. Somehow, I don’t think Aidan, the vampire in the US series, will slaughter a train full of victims like the UK Mitchell does. Somehow, I don’t think the US werewolf, whose character is so bland that I can’t remember his name, will do what his UK character George does in the last episode of season 3. (Trying so hard here not to do spoilers that it is not making much sense)
In any frame of reference the UK series is far superior to the US series, but I can’t put down the US series, as it is actually quite good as far as supernatural US series go. If only it wasn’t a ripoff of a superior series, it would stand along as quite good television. I only hope that what it does is bring a whole new audience to discover the UK series. I hope these people who only watch home grown tv, get curious as to what influenced this show and check out the original series, which is actually being shown in the US on the same channel as the US series, and discover what really good tv is about.
Bravo to those people at the BBC who have created Being Human. You make me laugh you make me cry and I can’t wait to see how the hell you are going to get yourself out of the hole you have written yourself into.