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Being Human: Season One(TV) (2009)
At first sight there doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about flatsharers George and Mitchell, but both harbour dark secrets. Once a month, geeky hospital porter George is transformed into a rabid, flesh-tearing werewolf, while womanising, man-about-town Mitchell is trying to forego his blood-sucking vampire instincts. As they take the keys to their new home, the boys discover that their flat has another occupant - lonely ghost Annie, who died in a car accident days before she was due to marry her fiance.
For more about Being Human: Season One and the Being Human: Season One Blu-ray release, see Being Human: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 22, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner, Jason Watkins, Dylan Brown, Sinead Keenan
Director: Toby Whithouse
» See full cast & crew
Being Human: Season One Blu-ray Review
A ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire walk into a BBC show...
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 22, 2010
We just have to be totally and completely normal.
As the Greek gods were years ago, vampires, werewolves, and other formerly-human but now in some way altered beings seem to have solidified themselves as the focus of modern mythology. Vampires in particular have come to be painted in a romantic light, often depicted as elegant and sophisticated creatures of high society due to their infinite lifespans and, depending on when they were turned, forever-young appearances, all despite a taste for human blood and association with the undead and demonic spirits. Though dating back well before Bram Stoker's definitive vampire novel, it was his words that would define the vampire mythos for almost a century, remaining the cornerstone work of vampire lore until Author Stephanie Meyer -- for better or for worse -- redefined the landscape in 2005 with Twilight, that novel and its three sequels depicting a love triangle between a vampire, a werewolf, and a human. Her novels ushered in something of a new 21st century mythology that depicted the realities of the dynamic between three drastically different entities attempting to not only co-exist, but to love outside their own. The BBC's "Being Human" takes a similar concept -- it substitutes the human with a ghost and trades the love angle for a loving but unlikely friendship -- by depicting three abnormal entities trying to fit in, to "be human" despite their unique circumstances and challenges. "Being Human" isn't a rip-off, but it's stale despite the injection of the "ghost" into the otherwise standard vampire-werewolf motif. It's solid television, but it can't shake the feeling that it's superfluous television.
Three twenty-something friends live together in a small house in Bristol. Seems normal enough, but looks can be deceiving. These three friends -- George (Russell Tovey), Mitchell (Aidan Turner), and Annie (Lenora Crichlow) -- aren't quite...normal. George, a werewolf, and Mitchell, a vampire, have formed an unlikely friendship as beings that exist outside the norm and they, in many ways, despise what they've become. They long to be more human, to cast aside that which makes them unique, and to live among the everyday people as ordinary, upstanding citizens. That proves even more complicated when they rent a house that's home to Annie, a ghost who died after a tumble down the stairs and who finds herself in a state of limbo between the land of the living and the world of the dead. The three find in one another reflections of themselves -- outcasts, weirdos, anything but human -- and through their interactions come to learn not only more about one another, but themselves. George must deal with the destruction he leaves behind and the strength he finds when he transforms into a werewolf once every full moon. Mitchell's problem is more urgent; he must fight the urge to kill others to sustain himself while also living as an outcast not only among men, but amongst his fellow vampires. Finally, Annie must discover what unfinished business she must attend to on Earth. Their rental house belongs to Owen (Gregg Chillin), Annie's fiance at the time of her death, his presence adding a greater dynamic to an already tense and unusual situation. Can these three improbable friends find in each other's company meaning, purpose, and acceptance among one another, humans, and kindred spirits as they strive to be nothing more and nothing less than human?
"Being Human" clearly aims to create a new dynamic within an old idea rather than branch out and deliver something completely new. That's not necessarily a fault; most everything in today's entertainment medium is in more ways than not repackaged and rebadged material, but in the case of "Being Human," the feeling that it's just rehashing the same-old, same-old with little regard for originality is hard to shake. Mixing vampires and werewolves isn't a novel concept to be sure; Underworld and Twilight are two examples that have done so to great financial success in recent years. "Being Human" adds another character -- a ghost (as opposed to a zombie, an android, an alien, or another human, for instance) -- into the mix, which lends to the show possibilities for expanded supernatural story lines and elements, but does little more than that and certainly doesn't use the third element to engender any real thematic purpose or emotional resonance. Though only six episodes in length, the first season of "Being Human" never really finds much of a groove. Admittedly, that's not much time in TV-speak to do more than lay a foundation, and that's what season one feels like. By the end of episode six, there's no questioning as to who these characters are, what they want out of life (or their lack thereof), and how they deal with the basic challenges they face. Still, the season ends with an empty feeling, with a sense that the dramatic developments were contrived for the sake of pseudo-excitement, in large part because the production feels rushed not visually, but dramatically. More than half the episodes are of the "standalone" variety whereby they introduce a character or a challenge that's resolved by episode's end. They all manage to in some way work towards the season's objectives -- Annie's understanding of why she's still on Earth and Mitchell's allegiance to either his friends or his fellow vampires -- but there's too much filler in between to make the show's primary arcs more than passing curiosities.
If there's one additional problem to be found with "Being Human," it's that the show loses some of its potential by rushing into the introduction and maturation of several dynamics before the characters are developed to a point that the audience can feel like more than detached observers. That stems from the short season to be sure, but there's a lot going on here -- characters lives are altered in drastic ways -- but some of it lasts no more than an episode and all but the most sweeping and generalized of repercussions and character arcs seem to appear for one show and disappear for the next. As a result, "Being Human" often plays out with a chunky, piecemeal feel. Hopefully season two will find firmer footing than the flimsy surfaces traversed by season one. On the plus side, the primary cast of "Being Human" is exemplary. Though the show lacks much emotional resonance, the three leads find a fantastic chemistry and play their characters to the point that they seem genuinely concerned for one another's well-being. They all have their characters down pat, and no matter the danger or the drama, they're wholly convincing as three twenty-somethings who aren't quite human but long to be so. Additionally, "Being Human" excels when it adds humor to the drama and action. There's usually a joke or two -- a subtle wink-and-a-nod -- during the most intense elements, calming the atmosphere without killing it and, ultimately, reinforcing not only the tension and danger of the moment but the genuine sense of family the three leads have managed to build. Indeed, "Being Human" is worth watching for the cast and its interactions alone; there's plenty of potential here -- despite an absence of greater originality -- that's just waiting to be realized.
Being Human: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
"Being Human: Season One" scares up a decent enough 1080i, 1.78:1-framed transfer for its Blu-ray release. This is a pretty basic shot-on-video looking production; it's glossy, flat, and features minimal noise save for a bit hovering over some of the darker scenes in the show. Fine detailing is adequate but generally unimpressive; clothing, faces and facial hair, brick walls, and odds and ends scattered about the frame fail to produce that crisp, lifelike, and natural flair associated with superior transfers. Blacks are, for the most part, steady and honest, and colors, too, retain a pleasant neutrality, despite a hint of bleeding across some of the harsher shades. Though the image lacks in superior definition, it generally remains sharp, though several shots do go inexplicably but only slightly soft. Being Human: Season One never looks fantastic, but it never looks particularly messy, either. It's a slightly-above-average transfer that suits the show well enough, but its harsh video-like appearance doesn't do it any favors.
Being Human: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Being Human: Season One" features a problematic and unimpressive Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The absence of a lossless soundtrack hurts the value of the package and the quality of the listen, the latter in particular evident from the opening moments of the show forward. Even at reference volume, the track lacks sheer volume and requires an increase to make out everything that's happening. Dialogue is usually stable and clear enough, though it does tend to get lost underneath music and sound effects, when applicable. Most every element -- dialogue included -- features little in the way of definition; the track has an uninspired and tired feel to it, resulting in a mushy and shallow presentation. It also delivers minimal ambience that's limited to the front speakers; chatter and ringing phones inside the hospital or distant booming thunder lack the space needed to truly immerse the listener in the show's various environments. Perhaps most damaging to the experience are those moments where a more robust low end would have greatly aided the show; various crashes and loud effects comes across as lacking any oomph and instead play as garbled and indistinct. Unfortunately, there's also a lip sync issue plaguing this set; it's most noticeable at the beginning of episode six, but it's also present to some degree elsewhere, too. This issue was verified on two separate players. Being Human: Season One's soundtrack is easily the lowlight of this package; it gets its job done at a base level but never extends beyond the nuts-and-bolts required to get listeners through the season.
Being Human: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
"Being Human: Season One" arrives on Blu-ray as a two-disc set, with extra content to be found on both platters. Disc one begins with an alternate scene from episode three (480p, 1:02). Character Profiles (480p, 20:03) features several primary actors discussing their roles and characters in the show. Vamping it Up (480p, 4:06) looks at the "rules" of being a vampire in "Being Human." Next is Tony Whitehouse on the Journey (480p, 7:03), a short piece that features the series creator discussing a hodgepodge of information, including the early history of the show, the importance of fans to the success of the series, and the history of the characters. Also included are brief featurettes that look at the show's locations (480p, 9:50) and costumes and makeup (480p, 2:37). Disc two begins with a collection of deleted (480p, 6:41) and extended (480p, 15:22) scenes. Stunts Package (480p, 10:03) takes a closer look at how two of the show's more complex stunts were achieved. Our Journey's End (480p, 4:11) examines the season's climactic conclusion. Next is Becoming a Werewolf (480p, 5:03), a fascinating glimpse into the process of transforming George into a werewolf. Finally, Video Diaries (480p, 14:47) features a series of candid moments with the cast.
Being Human: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Being Human" isn't a bad show, even judging it solely by its first season. It could use some refinement to be sure, but the show's main problem seems to stem from a shortage of time. Six episodes -- albeit nearly hour-long episodes -- aren't enough to develop characters, plot lines, and major story arcs to the ambitious extent that season one dares attempt. The result is a decent show with great potential that, so far, falls thematically and emotionally flat. The absence of greater originality isn't a glaring weakness, though the reliance on old ideas is evident throughout. As to the show's strongest elements, the humor is top-notch and the cast is wonderful. "Being Human" has "potential" written all over it; here's hoping subsequent seasons deliver on that. BBC's Blu-ray release of "Being Human" features a solid enough high definition transfer, but the lack of a lossless -- yea even 5.1 -- soundtrack is disappointing, as is the fairly paltry collection of extras. TV aficionados should give "Being Human" a rent, but fans of the show need to weigh their purchase carefully given the problematic soundtrack and shortage of extras.
Being Human: Other Seasons
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Being Human: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Being Human Season One Announced on Blu-ray - April 20, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced the US release of the BBC production Being Human: Season One, with a street date of July 20. Being Human centers around the seemingly ordinary premise of three young people sharing an apartment – only they are a vampire, a werewolf ...
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