This January, SyFy will be premiering their re-imagining of Toby Whithouse’s popular BBC series Being Human. In it, Sam Witwer (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica), Meaghan Rath (The Assistants) and Sam Huntington (Cavemen, Superman Returns) star as the loveable, but supernaturally unenthusiastic characters Aidan (vampire), Josh (werewolf) and Sally (ghost) with Mark Pellegrino (Lost, Supernatural) rounding out the cast as Aidan’s minacious mentor Bishop.
Like it’s UK counter-part, Being Human will follow these three paranormally conflicted roommates as they attempt to shield the world from their metaphysical secrets, all while trying to live double-lives and assimilate themselves into a world that they feel alienated from. Unfortunately, their quest at “being human” is more difficult than any of them could have imagined.
As any purveyor of television can attest, American audiences have been victim to some of the worst, most convoluted adaptations of UK television series known to man. From the 1978 horrible interpretation of the iconic Fawlty Towers with Betty White, to the most recent abomination that dared to call itself Life on Mars. American television has become the proverbial dumping grounds for over-produced drudge that serves no other purpose than to fill time before its imminent cancelation, while sullying the name of the original series from which it sprang.
Fortunately, SyFy’s Being Human appears to be the exception to that rule. During last week’s SyFy Digital Press Tour, we were able to take a look at some clips from Being Human and talk to the show’s stars Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, and Sam Huntington. During the panel, they discussed the pressures of remaking an already beloved series (that’s still airing on BBC America), the differences between SyFy’s version and the original BBC series and how they’re not trying re-invent the series, but to supplement it by expanding specific storylines and providing further back-story to the characters.
To be completely honest, the Being Human panel was one of the most exciting, entertaining and reassuring panels of the entire event. Upon finishing, I was left feeling that SyFy’s Being Human is not only an extremely competent adaption of a UK series, but one that may surpass the original series in the hearts and minds of fans around the globe. (This is something that I don’t say lightly, as I proudly consider myself one of the biggest anti-US-remake Anglophiles around.)
If my word alone isn’t enough to make you a believer, keep in mind that Jeremy Carver (the man behind some of Supernatural’s best episodes) will be serving as Executive Producer and writer with his wife, Anna Fricke (Men in Trees, Everwood).
Below, you’ll find highlights from the discussion and the complete 30-min video of the panel with Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath and Sam Huntington moderated by SyFy’s Executive VP of Original Programing, Mark Stein. If you have any interest Being Human or need reassurance that what I’m saying about the series is indeed true, I implore you to watch the complete panel.
On adapting a show that already has an existing fan base and the possible fan backlash:
SAM WITWER: A lot of shows that have existing fan bases have had difficult — well, not difficulty, but they’ve had a growing period, the burn-in process. For example, no one talks about anymore that when “Battlestar” came on, that there was this huge fan backlash because Starbuck was a girl and all this crap. No one really talks about that anymore. Now we just remember, “Oh, everyone loved ‘Battlestar.'” It’s like, “No. No, we didn’t. They didn’t.” So I’m fully prepared for whatever they want to throw at us. The fact of the matter is what we’re doing, I believe, having seen two episodes, is very good. I don’t think people are going to not enjoy it, but they also have absolutely the right to like the British version if they do.
SAM HUNTINGTON: I’m a fan of the British show. You know what I mean? So, like, I understand that, and I think that — I haven’t seen that much of it, but from what I’ve seen, it’s a lovely, amazing, original incredible show. So I want to say, like, “I’m with you.” Like, I love that show too. But I think ultimately what we’re doing is different and awesome.
MARK STEIN: And I think the first thing that was very important for us was we brought in British exec producer. So Rob Pursey’s involved as a consultant on the show with us and was very much involved with Anna and Jeremy in terms of what was working, what mistakes they’d made that we could avoid. Toby Whitehouse is now also involved. So it was very, very important to us that we do justice to the original because we did like it. And I think we’re very mindful — and there are definitely going to be people that are just going to have a knee-jerk reaction about why do an American version and why mess with success? And believe me, we were the first people to ask those questions.
The differences between the US version of Being Human and the original UK series:
SH: Having this — it’s one thing to create something original, and it’s another thing to try and have original ideas through something that’s already been woven. I mean, it’s tricky.
SW: Having only seen one episode, hard to say. But what we can say is that what they did in six episodes for their first season, we have 13 to go through that sort of — that storyline. So there’s a lot of things that we’re doing that they did not do. In the beginning of the first episode, I inadvertently turn a girl into a vampire. Hey, guys, you can’t blame me. She’s beautiful. But that character is a lot larger of a character and has much more influence on my character than the British version. She’s like a legitimate love interest, whereas in the British version, from what I understand, it’s not quite that way. So there’s a lot of things that where we’ll take maybe an idea that they have and expand it into entire plotlines. And of course, there are other things that go in completely different directions because they didn’t have the screen time.
SH: Yeah, my sister is a character on the show, on our show, which is not in the British series. And so that helps me, the character of Josh, kind of — it helps the audience kind of understand his journey. That actually kind of is through the entire season.
MEAGHAN RATH: And then I think for ours, in our version, we get to see a lot more of these characters’ backstories and how they became the way they are. So we have a lot more time to develop these people than the British one had.
SW: With Mark Pellegrino as Bishop, we get a lot more time with him than, say, we got with the Herrick character on the British series.
MR: And they’re introducing this new sect of vampires that wasn’t in the British one.