I watch a good deal of British Television. This should not be a shock to anyone who reads my blog regularly, but it's worth noting that more often than not, when a British Series gets remade in America I've seen the original series already. Now usually these American remakes fall into one of two categories: either the remake is equal to the original (or at least close to it) or it is an inferior version (sometimes only slightly, but sometimes by a large margin).
Shows like "The Office" have made successful (and in my mind equal to the original) versions in the US. On the other hand, the American version of Coupling was terrible, the American Life on Mars was actually decent until the last episode borked the whole thing... and while I enjoy the American version of Top Gear... it's just not even in the same league as the original. Because of this, as a general rule, I don't have high hopes for Americanized versions of good British shows. In rare cases they'll be good, but more often than not it'll be another "Kitchen Nightmares" -- a show I'll enjoy, but usually wish I was watching the original version instead.
This isn't the case with Being Human.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the original British version of Being Human - but they're limited by the very nature of short season/series length in UK television. In the British version, you're tossed headfirst into the premise because, frankly, if they don't there isn't enough time to tell a story. Again, when you have six episodes to do something, you economize time. In the American version though, they know they have thirteen episodes to cover similar ground.
And that lets them actually tell the story.
The SyFy version introduces you to the story more slowly, and in my opinion in a more satisfying way. Backstory is introduced, the premise expanded, and in the end, I find myself (surprisingly) enjoying the American version more.
And I find that surprising.
In my experience, most remakes either make changes for the sake of purely being different (Life on Mars), or try to stick to the original format so hard that they don't stray from the formula and never get better (Top Gear). It's rare that someone takes something good and says "With my expanded boundaries, what can I change just to make it better."
(Okay, arguably this was the same case in The Office - but the UK version was so good, they merely ended up with an equal product instead of a better one... but is that a bad thing?)
So yes, I think the original British version of Being Human is great, but I oddly find myself enjoying the American version more. Weird.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the US version. I didn't have very high hopes as SyFy was announcing it as "A SyFy original series" or something along those lines, but so far so good. I keep tuning in to Hulu Tuesday afternoons to catch up.
Jerry "Cal Davis" Fletcher (Anonymous) commented...
Yeah skirting the line between completely faithful remake to the point I might as well just watch the original and "this isn't <insert show here> even if they do share the same name" is a really tough act to pull off successfully. Nice to see there's at least a few shows doing so.
Also wasn't there a show called Skins on MTV back in the mid 90's? I remember it being horrid soap-opera style acting and "Ohh you might see a chick in her bra!" teases. And why I actually remember this I'll never know.
The UK version of the Office has humor that's so dry that I actually don't get the jokes. That's one thing that spoiled me with American TV I need punchlines even it's at the expense of intelligence. I find the less intelligent jokes funny because I don't need to do much thinking.