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Being Human: Season One (DVD Review)

12 Jun, 2010 By: John Latchem

Prebook 6/15/10; Street 7/20/10
BBC Video
$34.98 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner, Lenora Crichlow.

It seems like the setup of a cheesy sitcom for ABC’s 1990s TGIF line-up: A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost are roommates. It’s just a few archetypal supernatural creatures thrown into a typical setting to see how it plays against the situations that might arise.

Going against expectations, the BBC series “Being Human” (created by frequent “Doctor Who” scribe Toby Whithouse) offers an intense character drama, infused with moments of dark humor, to explore what it ultimately means to be human.

The focus is on vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner) and werewolf George (Russell Tovey), who hope to overcome their bloodlust to live a semblance of a normal life, leading to a recurring motif of others of their kind encouraging them to embrace their true nature. They work as orderlies at a hospital in England and, knowing what they are, decide to share an apartment to help contain their demons. The flat they choose is haunted by Annie (Lenora Crichlow), who must uncover the circumstances of her death after falling down the stairs.

The show’s biggest problem is that its core demographic will have seen these concepts before. Annie’s story arcs echo “Dead Like Me,” and the concept of monsters embracing their humanity was a major theme of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (and even “Twilight”). At one point Mitchell’s mentor ponders the possibilities of a world in which vampires lived freely among humans. Do they not get “True Blood” in England?

What sets “Being Human” apart is its emotional authenticity, which stems from its attempt to portray the reality of its characters as a little more down to earth than the show’s antecedents. It will be interesting to see how much of this dynamic is preserved when the series is remade by Syfy for American audiences.

The DVD and Blu-ray sets offer deleted scenes and a few featurettes about the show’s creation and mythology — standard issue for BBC Video product. The original pilot episode, which set up the premise with a few different actors in the key roles, is not included.

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