People Underestimate the Value of a Good Ramble

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Being Sorta Human

Contrary to my original plan, I started watching Syfy's version of Being Human. Then I kept watching it. I didn't really like it, but I wasn't quite able to put my finger on why. Well, that's not exactly true either, cause I read this blog post after the first couple of eps at Rob Will Review (@robwillb)....this post..... and it basically said what I was feeling.

But let me explain a little more first.

I love, love, love the British version of Being Human. I love it. I even remember where I first heard about it, on SciFiMafia. (And let me just add right here that the reason I've found these two great sites and met some awesome people, like SciFiMafia's managing editor, Lillian @zenbitch Standefer, is cause of Twitter. Just saying.) Being Human is an amazing show. So when Syfy said they were making their own version, my question was why? We already have this great show, why make it over again? Additionally, I'm not generally a fan of American re-makes of British shows. I think they lose something in the translation.

Case in point, The Office. I know, I know. Every other person in the world thinks the American version is hilarious. I don't. I just find it embarrassing and uncomfortable. I can't even stay in the room when it's on. Seriously. But I've seen episodes of the British version and I think it's funny. It's like we take the humor (or should I say humour) out and just make it . . . wrong.

So, back to Syfy's Being Human. I saw the first couple of eps and decided I wasn't interested. I almost stopped watching. But I follow Craig Engler (@Syfy) on Twitter, too, and he was so excited by the show, I felt like a traitor. I watched another ep. I began to see how they were following the same basic script as the first season (although they also had the second and third season's scripts to look at, too) and just varied it a little, but increasingly more. At one point, as the changes increased. I began to think that if they just stopped trying to make it the same and made it completely different, maybe I could like it. It would be a different show that just happened to have the same title and premise.

In other words, if the story lines were new, not rehashed and slightly changed for some reason (to make it more American maybe? whatever that means), I might not hate it.

Since I felt like I didn't want to keep watching and I felt guilty not watching, I did the next best thing, I DVR'd the eps, but didn't watch them. I didn't erase them either, although I came close a couple of times, when I needed the space. So there they sat.

Finally, I realized I needed to either watch or delete (or, you know, both). So I did it. I started watching again. I still didn't like it. Even ignoring all the bits that they changed, and not for the better, there's the fact that they are taking almost three times as long to say half as much. The Brit first season had 6 nearly complete hours of well-written, tightly packed episodes. The American has 13 episodes that are loose and sloppy and overly dramatic, with way too much whining. (Much like Americans themselves, sadly.)

The changes they made aren't huge, but they are just enough to take away what makes the British show so awesome. Look, if you've never seen the BBC version, this one is probably OK for you.

But let me give you an example (with SPOILERS FOR BOTH SERIES).

In the Brit version, Mitchell (the vampire) befriends a neighbor boy who is being bullied by some other kids. He lets the boy borrow some DVDs and the child mistakenly takes a DVD that was sent to Mitchell of a vampire murdering someone during sex. (Of course, in the Brit version, the vamp doesn't show up on the screen, so it looks like something else.) The mother finds it and calls him some names, the neighbors all jump on it and think that he and George are pedophiles. The boy then gets hit by a car and becomes critically injured. Now Mitchell has to make a choice. He can save the boy's life by turning him, doing a good thing although with some consequences (and even though the mother and the other humans treated him badly) or he can let the boy die, doing a good thing by not making him into what Mitchell himself is, an immortal killer, haunted by his sins of the past.

In the end, to save the mother pain, Mitchell turns the boy and sends the mother and son off together, after teaching them what they need to know for the boy to not make Mitchell's mistakes. lovely and sweet and human is that?

The Syfy version starts out the same, but just goes to a bad place. The sex DVD that Aidan (this version's vamp) is sent shows the female vamp. She is having sex with a guy in a motel room, then she is killing him, covered in blood, gross and in your face. The boy doesn't take the DVD by accident, he purposefully removes it from the shelf in Aidan's room. Then the mother gets mad, but she doesn't attack Aidan, just tells him to stay away from her kid.  The kid has the accident, but Aidan doesn't turn him, the woman he killed...the woman in the video...the woman he is supposed to stay away from but isn't. She turns the boy cause she thinks she's helping. But she can't control the boy who kills the two kids that were bullying him before and, eventually, Aidan has to kill the boy.

Do you see what just happened there? Instead of making it touching and moving and about how our choices make us human, it was about blood and death. Basically.

I stuck it out until the end and I watched the entire first season. But I won't be back. I just wish Syfy had left a great show alone and not stomped around in it with their big dirty boots, making it all sullied and gross.

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