Stars: Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, Sam Huntington, Mark Pellegrino
Jeremy Carver & Anna Fricke, based on the series created by Toby Whithouse
Adam Kane
Syfy, Mondays @ 9 PM
Jan. 24, 2011

The second episode of the Syfy Channel U.S. adaptation of the BBC’s BEING HUMAN, “There Goes the Neighborhood Part 2,” picks up where “Part 1” ended, with about-to-transform werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) locked in a basement with his perplexed sister Emily (Alison Louder), while vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) is distracted by a willing blood donor.

No offense to the writers, but it’s not hard to foresee Emily’s rescue, because the tone of BEING HUMAN isn’t nearly dark enough to sustain wide-eyed Josh killing his sister (in the second episode, no less). Aidan gets his phone message, shows up just in time to whisk Emily (who is still none the wiser about what’s really wrong with Josh) to safety and then deals with Josh moping about being a monster.

Aidan must also cope with the surprise of former girlfriend/victim Rebecca (Sarah Allen) reveling in being a monster, because after Aidan left her for dead after drinking too much, she was revived and turned by master vampire Bishop (Mark Pellegrino). Bishop is hoping that Aidan’s kill means that Aidan is coming back to the fold of vampire society, but Aidan wants to refrain from attacking humans and stick to hospital blood bags.

Meanwhile, resident ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath), Aidan and Josh’s ethereal roommate, hears how she died from her still-living erstwhile fiancé Danny (Gianpaolo Venuta) when he explains it to the guys, who are his tenants.

If this sounds like a lot of exposition, it is, and one doesn’t have to have watched the BBC BEING HUMAN to feel like we’ve revisited well-explored supernatural angst. The vampire power struggle (“Be true to your nature!” “No, I don’t want to harm humans!”) tends to play out just this way on TV series dealing with vamps – maybe not going all the way back to DARK SHADOWS (Barnabas didn’t have a big peer group or that many scruples), but at least to FOREVER KNIGHT.

Josh’s werewolf guilt right now looks a lot similar to vampire guilt, with less cause – so far as we know, he hasn’t actually killed anybody and the basement room seems like a good solution. The point at which he starts taking his self-loathing out on Aidan is the point at which we hope these characters come to terms with what they are so that some new dynamic can enter the picture.

The foundation is here for something funny and sparky and unique – American humor is different from British humor, so there’s plenty of potential for originality. But first the characters have got to stop sulking and develop their own individual ways of dealing with their condition.

The first few episodes of a series with complicated mythology have to set up the mythology, of course, but so far, BEING HUMAN is a little too earnest in exploring the tragedy of the main characters’ conditions, without playing up the ironic and whimsical sides that are also there. It’s worth sticking around to see if these elements bloom, but right now, this HUMAN could use a little more levity to improve its condition.

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