Shows worth watching: Being Human UK version

Tell me if you’ve hard this before: a werewolf, a ghost, and a vampire all live together and try to pass themselves off as humans.  In the saturated world of werewolves/vampires, etc., this could be a boring concept.  However, Being Human is so much more than a show about supernatural beings. Annie the ghost, played by Lenora Crichlow, is sad and lonely and wants desperately for other to see her.  Her flatmates can see her but that’s not enough for this ghost in limbo. George the werewolf, played by Russell Tovey, is so far removed from his werewolf side and deeply struggles with his full moon transformations.  Mitchell the vampire, played by Aidan Turner, has the confidence and sex appeal to be the vampire but he’s sworn off human blood and struggles to not give into his blood thirst. None of them want this life.  They all are lonely, sad, and yearn for a normal life. Their shared loneliness and sadness bring them together and they form a deep bond that helps them through the most difficult and dark times.

The focus of Being Human is on the emotion of the three main characters.  It’s about their relationship and their shared experiences about being outsiders who want nothing more than to be seen as normal humans.  It’s about how finding the right people at the right time can help a person overcome feelings of vast loneliness and despair and make someone feel normal the way they are. Yes the supernatural aspect plays a big part of the show but it’s not the only aspect of the show.

What I like about Being Human is how well these three, original actors and characters fit together.  The chemistry of all three actors is evident from the start and helps to make the character’s situation believable. Russell Tovey is perfectly cast as the werewolf.  He plays Georges’s mild-mannered disposition with incredible nuance, making his werewolf self such a vast contrast in personality that it’s shocking George could even be a werewolf. Lenora Crichlow plays Annie as a somewhat naive young woman who eventually finds her strength via her relationship with George and Mitchell.  And Aidan Turner plays the smoldering Mitchell with utter conviction you can feel his pain at being a vampire who struggles against what he is. These three fit very well together, making the show strong on their relationships alone.

The series did a decent job of intertwining the three roommates lives and story lines.  Mitchell was a bit of leader in the vampire community despite his attempts at swearing off blood.  Mitchell had a continuing battle with William Herrick, a vampire who has been in his life for long time, and Herrick ends up playing a big part in all three of the main characters lives.  George’s struggle to hide his werewolf side becomes harder when he starts to date Nina.  Nina is a good balance to George and seeing their relationship progress throughout the series is both fun and sad.  Annie, being a ghost, has the hardest time acclimating to her life, but even she gets involved with both Herrick and Nina, as well as achieve closure for her own past experiences.  This makes the series more solid for me since the three do live separate lives but yet are closely meshed to each other.

The series goes through some big changes in seasons four and five, with Turner leaving at the end of season three, and Tovey and Crichlow both departing in season four.  Each of the episodes where these characters left were highly emotional and fitting send offs.  Hal (the vampire), Tom (the werewolf), and Alex (the ghost) were the replacements and were played by good actors, but the series didn’t quite capture the same chemistry or appeal of the original cast members or stories. Of note of these three replacements to me was Michael Socha, who played Tom the werewolf.  He was a worthy replacement of George’s emotional werewolf.  Tom fit well with everyone and had an endearing quality that made him very easy to like.

I will briefly mention the SyFy version of Being Human.  I watched one, maybe two episodes of this rendition, but thought it paled in comparison to the original one (even seasons 4 & 5 were better than the SyFy version).  The SyFy version lacked the chemistry and interest of the original series and I didn’t think the actors were correctly cast.  Note that this opinion is from a very biased love of the original series so it’s not really a fair reflection of the SyFy show.

Being Human ended after the fifth season and I thought the writers did the correct thing by ending the series at that time.  The story of Hal, Tom, and Alex, while not as compelling as the original trio, had run its course, and the series came to a fitting and emotional end.  Of the myriad supernatural series out there, Being Human is one of the better ones, in my opinion.  It wasn’t only about being a werewolf, a vampire, or a ghost.  It was about what makes that person human, even though they have an inhuman quality. It’s also about relationships and how they can help someone through a difficult or trying time.  And that no one should be all alone – everyone needs someone to be there for them, whether it’s just someone to talk to or someone to share similar experiences with.  If you are looking for a grown up version of the supernatural, this show is one to check out. Being Human is available on DVD, via Amazon, or via iTunes (according to the BBC America website).

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FX’s The Strain

Last night The Strain premiered on FX and it did not disappoint.  The Strain is adapted from the book series written by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.  I have not read any of the books nor did I come into this show with much knowledge about it.  I knew it was about vampires and that’s about it.

The show starts out with a plane getting ready to land.  When the airport tower tries to contact the plane during landing the controller doesn’t get a response.  He then sees that the plane is sitting on the runway with nothing running.  After initial investigation by the control tower, many government officials and agencies converge on the scene with the CDC taking ultimate control.  Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a/k/a Eph, and a team member, outfitted in haz-mat suits, board the plane to check things out.  They find all the passengers are dead.  Further investigation under black lights show all kinds of fluids on the planes interior as well as passengers.  Eph’s team member, Nora, checks out the front of the plane while he heads for the back.  While Nora is looking around the cockpit door opens (never a good sign).  Nora goes in to take a look and suddenly the pilot opens his eyes.  Ends up that four passengers survived while all others are dead.  The CDC moves all the bodies to a refrigerated area so they can continue their investigation.

We get glimpses into the Master and the people who, I’m assuming, are his caretakers.  The best part was during the medical examiner scene.  Gross and creepy highlighted by a musical choice of Sweet Caroline with a beating heart.

I think the biggest complaint about this show will be that it has some typical clichés – the crazy guy who knows what’s going on, the main character whose life is falling apart and that story is easily forgotten,  etc.  I’m fine with all of that.  The Strain brings back the creepy, scary vampire stories I liked to watch when I was a kid. It also gives a different take on vampirism being a virus rather than a blood sucking origin.  Vampires being a threat is the focus here, not how sexy and good-looking they can be.

I do think the show teters on the edge of being good vs being campy.  If someone other than Del Toro was involved,  it would most likely fall on the campy side. Luckily that’s not the case.  I’m intrigued by the virus plot and like having the CDC involved.   I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the Master and what he/it is all about.  I have the first book but will hold off on reading it until the season ends.  Not knowing what’s going to happen makes me look forward to future episodes and I’m hoping things only get better.  Anyone else watch this show?  What are your thoughts?

Eight week reading challenge – Day Four

Day four – one book down, seven to go.  Just completed World War Z by Max Brooks.  A surprisingly compelling read with interviews from the survivors of the Zombie war, World War Z is a telling of how the world managed to beat the ever-growing zombie hoards  Somewhat disturbing to think what has to be done to many in order for more to survive.  If you are a fan of zombies, this is a book you must read.  Will be interesting to see how the movie turns out.

So, big question is: what book do I read next?  Strategic planning is paramount to my success in this eight week challenge.  Choosing to read the wrong book at the wrong time could spell doom and set me up to fail.  I’m drawn to each book, but which is the right choice to read now?  I think I’ll go with the YA novel by Heather Brewer – Second Chance (The Slayer Chronicles).  Reason behind this selection is simple: ease of reading.  I throughly enjoyed the author’s first series Vladimir Tod and read the first book of this Slayer series in one day.  Not to say that “ease” equals a lightweight book – sometimes simple means pure enjoyment, which is what I’m hoping for in my second selection in the eight week challenge.

Hopefully selection two will be enjoyable and moves me along to book three in just a few days.  Happy reading to all and hope anyone else working on their own challenge plots a successful strategy as well!