TV Review: Being Human Is More Munsters Than Monsters

By Josh Tyler | 12 years ago

beingThere’s a vacuum for decent genre programming on television and BBC America seems more than willing to fill it. They’ve already found success with Doctor Who and it’s subsequent spin-off Torchwood, and now they’re dropping a worm in the geek-crowd’s water again with Being Human.

Mitchell is a vampire, of the leather-jacket wearing variety. He’s roommates with George, who happens to be a werewolf. They move into a new flat where they encounter the previous tenant, Annie, who happens to be dead. She’s a ghost, though what kind of ghost is never entirely clear. Mitchell and George at least, seem to be able to see her and interact with her, even touch her just as if she’s a normal person. Annie also has no problem picking up objects and in fact, is apparently obsessed with making tea. For a ghost, she’s shockingly corporeal. Except of course, when it matters, then suddenly no one can see her. She’s a confusing character to say the least.

Mitchell and George have their own set of problems. Mitchell is trying to break the blood-sucking habit. Also, he’s the sort of vampire that doesn’t seem to mind the sun. George turns into a werewolf once a month, shredding everything in his general vicinity, and of course isn’t too please with that. When the three of them are at home together, there’s a lot of angst to go around, and it often seems like Friends without the monkey (which would probably only be eaten) or the laugh track. When they leave the house, suddenly it’s vampire world with fangs everywhere and danger around every corner.

aaaaIronically, Being Human is about anything but humans and it’s not really deep enough to justify a more philosophical definition of that title. Instead they’re all ex-humans and the plot, no matter how I’ve tried to make it sound otherwise, still seems more like the punchline to a joke than the setup for a weekly genre series. A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost share an apartment. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Even more confusing, Being Human itself seems unsure of what it wants to be or where it wants to go. At times it feels like a sitcom, like it’s two steps away from devolving into the Munsters. Other times it seems like a horror thriller, with vampire intrigue all around and dead loved ones weeping for lost souls. Those two tones are at constant odds with one another and in the first couple of episodes that I saw at least, they don’t seem to have figure out yet how to get them to mesh.

There’s potential here, but whether or not they figure out a way to make those two sensibilities work together, or barring that simply pick one and ditch the other, will determine whether Being Human is worth your time to watch. For now, or until the show’s chemistry improves with time, it’s probably not.

Being Human premieres in the United States on BBC America July 25th at 9/8c.

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