Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'Being Human' loses something in translation

Courtesy Syfy.com
It sounds like a joke: A suave vampire, a nervous werewolf and a cute lady ghost rent an apartment together — but there’s no punch line. Instead, that’s the basic premise of “Being Human,” promoted as a new Syfy channel “original” series.

The only thing new about it is the accent. The series, which premiered Monday on the cable channel, is an Americanized version of a BBC series that has been a hit for the past two years on BBC America.

It concerns three of the ultimate outsiders trying to blend in — i.e., desperately working at “being human.” The premise sounds corny, and while the original Brit series milked the comedic aspect from time to time, it was a full-on drama, with plenty of blood, death, sex and yes, even love.

The U.S. version appears to be following the lead, updating and Americanizing the jokes (there’s an obvious “Twilight” reference that falls flat in the premiere). The action is moved from London to Boston.

“Being Human is a smart, contemporary, young and imaginative series that reflects Syfy's new brand positioning,” said channel president David Howe, quoted in promotional materials for the show. “We are very excited to adapt this for an American audience and bring it into Syfy's family of programming.”

The series stars Sam Witwer (“ Battlestar Galactica ” ), Meaghan Rath (“ The Assistants” ), Sam Huntington (“ Superman Returns ” ) and Mark Pellegrino (best known as Jacob on “ Lost”) .

Syfy has ordered 13 episodes for the first season, which premiered on Jan. 17. That initial outing scored nearly 2 million viewers, making it the most-watched scripted mid-season premiere for the channel in five years.

(Read the rest of this News Herald review, including info on other British shows that became American hits and links to clips of 'Being Human,' at this link.)

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