Being Human was easily one of the most intriguing pilots I saw last year (and probably the only thing I watched on BBC Three). The supernatural drama was broadly about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who end up in a somewhat unusual flatshare. Existential overtones abound as each of them is struggling to cope with their own condition, but together they find some balance of normality.
Given the silence that followed, I assumed it was unsuccessful and never picked up. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it appearing on the BBC’s schedule for the start of 2009, although it appears there have been some not insignificant changes. The premise remains the same, but of the main cast only Russell Tovey returns as the socially awkward werewolf George. The replacements for vampire Mitchell and Annie the ghost seem to fit a general desire to make the show more mainstream, losing some of the pilot’s gothic sensibilities.
Mitchell suffers particularly from this, morphing into a largely uninteresting good-looking charmer, albeit with a generic “conflicted vampire” struggle to control his bloodlust. This is, presumably, intended to draw in female viewers. In the pilot Guy Flannagan’s delivery had a strange precision that made his words seem like those of someone far older than he looked, while Aiden Turner never seems anything but a twenty-something. Meanwhile Annie seems less oddball but more unstable. Because these characters no longer all come across as outsiders (Mitchell is too socially adept, and Annie presumably was in life) the original group dynamic is lost and they do not seem to hang together quite so well anymore.
These negative (if more attractive) casting changes are not insurmountable if the scriptwriting can hold up, but if the changes do represent an apparent move towards the mainstream, this does not bode well, stripping the show of its uniqueness and relegating to a generic supernatural drama that is unlikely to last long in the wild before being put down.
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