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BEING HUMAN (Syfy)
(Mondays at 9:00/8:00c beginning tonight)
The network's description: "In Syfy's new original series Being Human, leading normal lives is a lot harder than it looks for three paranormal roommates - vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) - who share their secrets and a Boston brownstone. Together they try their best to be human while navigating the complexities of living double lives. Mark Pellegrino (Lost) co-stars as Bishop, Aidan's charismatic but menacing vampire mentor. Executive Producers are Michael Prupas (The Kennedys, Pillars of the Earth), Jeremy Carver (Supernatural) and Anna Fricke (Men in Trees, Everwood) who are both writers/showrunners, and Rob Pursey and Toby Whithouse. Irene Litinsky is series Producer and Adam Kane (The Mentalist, Heroes) is Co-Executive Producer. Muse Entertainment is producing the show's 13 one-hour episodes, which is based on the acclaimed UK series created by Toby Whithouse."
What did they leave out? That about covers it.
The plot in a nutshell: Being a monster isn't easy. For Aidan (Sam Witwer), it's a constant struggle to overcome the thirst that comes with being a vampire, not to mention the burden that comes with carrying several lifetimes of misdeeds around. For Josh (Sam Huntington), it's the horror that accompanies turning into a uncontrollable werewolf, coupled with the pain of pushing those he loves away to protect them. Thankfully they have each other to fall back on for support. As a nurse and orderly, respectively, at a local hospital in Boston, they've managed to spark the embers of a normal life. Josh even suggests they make it official by becoming roommates and soon enough they find a brownstone with an ask-no-questions landlord Danny (Gianpaolo Venuta).
Unfortunately, their newfound lives are fragile ones as Aidan continues to be lured back into his earlier, more violent ways by his sire Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) while Josh wrestles with wanting to tell his sister Emily (Alison Louder) the truth about why he went and disappeared. And if that wasn't enough, their apartment turns out to be haunted by a ghost named Sally (Meaghan Rath). She in turn has her own issues, namely how her death has torn her apart from her one true love - the aforementioned Danny. Together they'll hopefully find a way to work through their personal struggles and prove that monsters can have normal lives too.
What works: There's a core through line to the show that has the potential to be genuinely intriguing. Aidan, Josh and Sally aren't just roommates, they're like sponsors for each other in a figurative Monsters Anonymous. Since regular people probably couldn't handle their foibles - not just emotionally, but physically - it makes sense they'd seek solace in those familiar with their own private hells. The show even goes so far as to point out the reason Aidan and Josh can see Sally is that they're open to it, whereas the average Joe isn't. It's also quite refreshing to see a lack of burden to the show's mythology: pretty much every big question you'll have about our heroes and where they came from is answered by the end of the two-part premiere, including flashbacks to their respective origins.
What doesn't: On the flip side, all of the above comes across as rather vanilla. Anyone who's watched a show about vampires, werewolves and the like will see this as very well worn territory. The monster who can't control himself, the all-we-are-is-dust-in-the-wind curse of immortality, the constant guilt over having had to kill to satisfy one's hunger, etc. aren't exactly fresh threads nor is the way they are executed here. And while Witwer, Huntington and Rath are likeable enough, they just don't quite elevate things enough to make it particularly compelling.
Overall though, it's frustrating to see the show's thesis get thrown under the bus so quickly: Aidan and Sam rarely seem to share exactly what's going on in their lives, whether it's as big as "hey I murdered someone today" or as banal as their daily comings and goings - all despite their insistence that's why they're living together. Likewise each more or less throws their hands up in indifference over Sally's situation and when they actually do something - Josh introduces her to a fellow ghost in the third episode - it's only to pass her problems off to another person. In other words, it's a little hard to rally around the show's central concept when none of the characters seems to get behind it. The end result is a relative indifference to what's going on, an attitude that once again doesn't give a unique edge or flair to its more been there, done that elements.
The bottom line: It's watchable albeit not exactly compelling.