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Being Human in America: Episode Three Reviewed

So here we are. Third Episode. We can do this. Deep Breaths.


Okay! So, if you’re just tuning in, what I was doing here was watching the first three episodes of the American version of Being Human, and reviewing what I saw from as objective a place as possible for someone who’s seen and enjoyed the original British series. We can have a discussion about what I’ve learned about objectivity and fresh eyes later, but for now let’s talk about what we saw this week.

[ad#rightpost]Overall Show Structure:

First and foremost, I want to make this perfectly clear: I WILL NOT PAY YOU FIVE DOLLARS. Which is to say, I’m extremely disappointed that they went back to Aidan for the voice-over, when they could have used this opportunity to bring Josh more to the fore. A cycling, three-stage voice-over fugue-thing could have been a really interesting framing device for the show, and they seem to have screwed all that up. That being said, while the somewhat annoying voice-over is still happening, and isn’t really being used in a particularly novel way, they seem to be using less and less metaphor, which is very good. I feel like the bluntness of the introductions should either precisely match the brutality of the events we’re seeing or stand in direct counterpoint to it. But that’s my aesthetic, and your mileage may vary.

The music was pretty unobtrusive this episode, with one major exception: The use of The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost In You,” during Sally’s “I can leave the house!” scene was actually pretty clever. Very Pretty In Pink meets Casper.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed the cinematography in this episode. The shot composition was phenomenal, especially in the scenes with Garrity and Bishop in Garrity’s apartment. Very claustrophobic, very maze-like, with just the use of a few well-placed corners and lighting. Similarly, the scenes with Sally out and about expressed a sense of openness and freedom. More on that later.


Aidan: The key difference in Aidan here was the part where we see him “going feral,” after being impaled in the alleyway. I really thought he was just faking his death at first…and they played that really well. That, plus his increasing desperation to not have anyone else turned into a vampire, were the two best points of character development for Aidan.

But, hey, they touched on the sunlight thing! Evolution to photo-sensitive? Really? Okay, I’ll give you that one–but if that’s the case, I’ll take some more dark glasses and heavy scarves, please.

Josh: He’s funnier this episode. Playing up his social anxiety seems to be a really natural angle for him, and it allows for his character to really shine. I did find that the whole “I Smell Something/chase after it/mad attack dog” was a little bit overdone. Just a note? I can smell fresh spray paint from about fifty yards, with the right wind; a werewolf shouldn’t have to breathe in that deep to smell a tagging in progress, less than a block away.

And my but that’s a sudden decision to shapeshift in the woods rather than in the hospital. I smell a plot device.

Sally: I’m still finding Sally deeply annoying, because she’s still self-absorbed with no real trace of caring for others. That being said, her ghost lessons were pretty interesting, even if Tony-The-Ghost’s mullet and eyeliner really threw me off. Anyway. His line “…don’t Get… the whole ‘dead’ thing” was cute, and it was a good note, but it still doesn’t feel like she really understands this At All.

Their explanation of the whole “Moving On” aspect of ghost-hood feels both dragged out and too shallow. How is that possible? The idea that apparently there’s a tally somewhere and as soon as you do that One Last Thing, you’re gone, regardless of whether you actually feel any connection to the event? This is how you use the word “closure?” That’s pretty annoying.

Final Thoughts:

So, here we are at the end of the three episodes I said I’d watch, and I did my very best to keep my biases out of the whole thing, but you know what? It was really freaking hard. Syfy has kept the majority of the interactions of the original show, while slightly changing the pacing and order of those interactions. The majority of the best scenes come when there are substantive departures from the original series, because it doesn’t feel like they’re aping and groping at what was already there, while trying to make it more “accessible” to American audiences. The plot points with Garrity were original and tense. The redone plot points were… not. But, if the first three episodes are to be any indication, the most severe departures will be used as background subplot, rather than significantly stepping away from the themes of the original show. This is a huge problem for me, because the longer I watch the harder it is not to notice the comparisons, and when I notice the comparisons I notice the wide gap between what went on in the original and what’s happening in the Americanization.

As I said, I love Jeremy Carver‘s work; I loved Sam Huntington in Fanboys; Mark Pellegrino always owns. But I just can’t get past the comparisons.

I’ve said before that I want to hear from the people who really like this show, and right now I specifically want to hear if anyone who enjoyed the original show has also been enjoying the remake. I mean, is this just me? Because unless and until the show starts to display some serious thematic differences, I don’t think i’m going to be able to watch past this third episode.

But if it does, I definitely want to know.


  • No, it’s not just you. And it does seem to be suffering from the fact that I’m watching series 3 of the UK version at the same time I’m watching season 1 of the US version. It just makes me realize how much more I like the UK version. Maybe it’s just because I already know where they’re going with the US version, having already seen a variation of it, while the UK version just seems fresher for being new to me. But I’m completely with you on Sally, she is not growing on me one iota so far.

  • @jbean: Yes, this is exactly what I’m feeling. There is too much of a gap between concept and execution, right now, specifically when it comes to redoing the main plot points of the original. And it doesn’t show much sign of slowing, any time soon.

    Thanks for the comment and, if you do keep watching, feel free to comment, here, if you find it getting any better.

  • I am a huge fan if the original show. My first attempt to watch the US pilot, I gave up after 20m mins.

    A few days later, I went back and tried again, this time I watched right through the two-part pilot, and then watched the third ep. Started to click with me.

    I am now up to date with all four episodes, and am totally hooked.

    I am also watching series 3 of the original Being Human on BBC3 (3 eps in) and am still loving that.
    You are so right that when the reimagined version deviates from the original in plot it seems to work better. It feels stronger when they are doing their own thing, rather than just porting something accross and americanising it; which generally feels clumy and sub-standard.

    The rhythm and flow of the two shows are completely different. But then they would be. British and American dramas and comedies do have a different pacing and feel to them. We work on different sets of conventions, we deliver the stories differently.

    I was very dubious about the remake. But I am actually really glad they’ve done it. This is no butcher job. They’ve done something pretty cool with the premise and they’ve given it a new feel. It’s likely, given that brit shows tend to have shorter runs, and given that British humour, pacing, and dramatic delivery don’t always translate to the US, that the original won;t be seen by so many people outside of its home base. In which case, it’s a good thing that this gem of a story will be available in a more accessible form.

    I found myself particularly warming to the team after episode three. And even more so in episode 4. Taken as its own beast it’s worth watching.