Thursday, October 11, 2012

Being Human, UK v. US

Smackdown: UK Being Human season 1 v. US Being Human season 1

Basic premise of both: a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost co-habitate in order to appear and try to live as humans.

In the original UK version we begin when vampire Mitchell (Adian Turner) and werewolf George (Russell Tovey) rent a place together and find ghost Annie (Lenora Crichlow) haunting it. She died in the house and can't cross-over; Mitchell and George are the first beings to actually be able to see her since she died 6 months prior. They form a tight trio and help each other out with their supernatural issues, which of course keep getting in the way of "begin human."

In the US version we follow vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) as they rent a house and find ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath). The beginning and basic plotlines follow those of the UK version, but there are some variations as the season progresses. One plotline in the US version doesn't even happen until the second series of the UK version, so the US makers seem eager to begin the separation fairly quickly from the original material.

I prefer the characterizations in the US version a tad bit better. Mitchell is well played as a struggling and exasperated vampire, however, I gravitated to Aiden's more stoic demeanor. I like Annie-- she definitely gives the UK version some levity. However, I really liked Sally's sarcasm. Also, I preferred Sally's arc better in the US version over Annie's. I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say Sally is more angry, as she should be.

The Brits did a bang up job accomplishing a cohesive and impactful season in only eight episodes (compared to the 13 US eps). But I felt there was a misstep or two. I take slight issue with the fact that Annie becomes visible to humans at times. I realize this helps with her storylines, but I felt is was a bit of a cop-out. Additionally, in the fifth episode, Another Fine Mess, Mitchell is accused of pedophilia. Up until this point in the series, he is campaigning heavily to George that they should befriend their neighbors because this will make them seem more human. His theory backfires in a big way in this episode, and I think the result is a bit over wrought. I felt like I was watching a whole different show with this episode. It's purpose was to facilitate Mitchell's regression back into his vampiring ways after being so bitterly betrayed by humans, which does move the season along, so I can't fault it's overall goal.

This was a tough decision (seriously, as I've written this post, I've changed the winner four times and I could probably be persuaded to change it again) ... but I'm giving a slight edge to the UK version. The Brits were better at connecting the real message of the series: in some ways we're all monsters, we just don't have the fangs to show for it.

Being Human UK, Season 1
Find it in the catalog!

Being Human US, Season 1
Find it in the catalog!