Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review – Syfy’s Being Human Season 1 Finale “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Me Killing You”

Photo courtesy NBCUniversal

Being Human aired on Syfy, Mondays at 9 pm.

Good.  A good finish to a generally excellent rookie season for this reimagining of the UK original.  It lacked the excitement of the antepenultimate episode (that’s two episodes ago, kids), the gut-wrenching emotion of the episode prior to that, and the sheer joy of listening to great lines from the episode prior to that.  In other words, it got better and better, then less so, but then finally wrapped up nicely.

I’m not exactly sure why they brought Aidan to the hospital when all they needed was blood, especially since he would have been – ironically, given the attack – generally safer at home, it being unlikely that Bishop would want to undergo a second scorching.  The hospital setting, however, was clearly required, since it was the best way to bring in Celine and Nora and to allow Bishop to see that Aidan had survived.

I am pleased that they did indeed have a use for Celine in this episode.  If you read my review of last week’s episode you’ll recall I did say that I hoped her storyline was introduced for a reason at that point in the season, but that I was going to trust the writers.  I am SO pleased that the faith was well-placed.  Her offering of herself helped to strengthen Aidan physically, just as her telling the story of what Bishop had done to her helped to strengthen Aidan psychologically.  And it made a great deal of sense that she would offer herself, not only because she was terminal, but because Bishop had seen her in the hospital and would now likely punish her by attacking her family.

So Bishop’s punishment for entering Aidan’s home without invitation was being burned in much the same way that vamps burn in sunlight in other interpretations of vamp lore.  That was a nice touch.  Maybe I’m an idiot, but I only just realized that the reason Bishop attacked the police officer was because he needed live blood to heal, just as Aidan did.  Silly me, I thought Bishop was just being cranky.

It was great that Aidan and Bishop were allowed to actually fight it out, though I was distracted by the stop-action style of the scene; it felt cheesy to me.  Still, pretty cool ending.  I love that Sally was there and tried to help, and actually did help by distracting Bishop long enough for Aidan to get the jump on him.  And show of hands, how many thought Aidan was just choking Bishop?  My hand is raised; I was thinking – what the heck?  Choking won’t kill him!  Right up until his head came off…  Really well done.

How wonderful that the episode led up to a battle that they all at least intended to join.  Josh’s being locked out – or literally, locked in – was a huge kindness to him by Aidan.  Josh very likely would have won that battle, as the lore in this series is that vampires almost always beat werewolves in a fight UNLESS it’s the full moon, when werewolves would almost always win.  But that would add one more kill to Josh’s tally, and as Josh told Sally in the last episode, you don’t want death on your hands if you can avoid it, there’s no getting over it.  Besides, Aidan needed to finally and permanently break with Bishop and all that he stood for.  Aidan’s line to Josh and Sally beautifully summed up his regret that they were involved at all.  “This should have happened lifetimes ago, and I am truly sorry that it had to happen during yours.”

Looks like Josh’s lockout was a sort of good news/bad news thing for Nora.  The good news is that she now knows Josh’s secret, and she is in fact wonderful about it.  And come on, how adorable was Josh’s furry face under the door?  It was further good news that Josh was alive to learn that Nora had a miscarriage (presumably because of the full moon) and was able to be with her once he had recovered.  The bad news was, of course, that one, JOSH IS A WEREWOLF, two, she had a miscarriage because JOSH IS A WEREWOLF, and three, she may now have been infected by Josh because he scratched her when he was a werewolf because JOSH IS A WEREWOLF.  Seriously, I was kind of expecting a bigger response from her to the fact that her lover is a werewolf.  A WEREWOLF.  I know she’s a nurse and has seen a lot, but COME ON.  And it was lovely that she said it didn’t matter that he didn’t tell her, that she wouldn’t have believed him, but again, COME ON.  Does no one think there was a possibility that little baby Lupin or Lupine might have CLAWED ITS WAY OUT OF HER WOMB?  Just a thought.  I’m happy that she survived, and that they don’t have to deal with what might have happened, as they will likely to have plenty to deal with as a new couple anyway.  I like them together, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops next season.

Speaking of things I liked, I really liked Sally this episode.  She was very – sorry – real.  Her interactions with Josh and with Aidan were comfortable, sincere, honest, genuine, true to character, not whiny, and totally natural.  Like someone I’d love to meet at Starbucks so we could catch up.  When she made the suggestion to Josh that he take on Bishop, she wasn’t desperately freaking out like she was when she was trying to get Josh saved from the werewolf fight.  She was intense but fully invested in the plan.  And maybe that’s part of why it worked so well; she had a plan, she wasn’t flailing, and she believed in it.  Sally is always at her best when they allow her to be strong.  I did love it, though, when Josh warned her to not tip off Aidan with special “looks” - “you know, don’t Sally it up.”  And I was so pleased that when she locked Josh up, she was equally strong about that.  Sure she got stressed when the 500-year-old vampire lunged at her, that was totally supportable.

Just a quick note about the flashbacks.  The audience is really owed a bit of help, unless the when-are-we is part of the story, and it wasn’t in this case.  More than once, Josh’s bruises from being beat up by Marcus were the only visual clue we were given that we were back to the early days of Aidan and Josh.  We needed, or at least I needed, more than that.  I did enjoy getting the Aidan-and-Josh backstory, and it felt fitting to have it during the season finale.  Without the issue of flashback mechanics it would have been even stronger, but it was still well done, particularly at the end.

The three of them together in the apartment when it was all over felt like the perfect denouement for the season.  Sitting together, taking stock.  Fittingly, this is when we got my favorite lines of the episode:

“We should get cable.”  “Why?”

“I think I’ll learn crav maga.”

When Heggeman showed up at the door: “She wants to meet you.”  Oooo!

And during the final flashback, as Aidan and Josh are planning to get an apartment:
“You don’t even eat.”  “I like the ritual.”

Kudos to everyone involved in this series.  I can’t wait for the DVDs, and for season two.

And finally, now that the first season is complete, and the third season of the UK original is also complete, and both have been renewed for another season, this seems a good time to award kudos to the rookie adaptation, both for the benefit of long-time watchers of the original as well as for those who have not yet seen the highly-recommended UK series.  I love the way the US series kept some storylines completely intact, changed up others, and added in entirely new ones.  What a wonderful way to adapt a series for a different audience while – here’s the tricky part – recognizing that the new show’s audience will be comprised of both newbies and veterans.  The fact that some story lines were nearly identical paid homage to the excellent original and its fans.  That some story lines were changed or took a different turn – sometimes quite dramatically – meant that veterans could still be surprised.  What a gift to the veterans (yes, like me).  And wow, how bold of the US series to use aspects of all three seasons of its parent in its own first season.  Granted, the US first season had twice as many episodes as the UK first season, but still...  I’m sure it was no accident that some of the plot points in the US Monday broadcast actually used plot points from the preceding Saturday’s broadcast of the UK version on BBC America.  Excellent coordination, mates! 

And here’s one of my favorite things of note: none of the changes made in the US version, at least none that I can think of, directly contradict something in the original.  The personalities of the leads and the ancillary characters differ from one version to the other, but that’s okay: all of their names are different.  I realize this is likely because the US showrunners wanted more “Americanized” names, but it also works to point out that they are not in fact the same characters.  Some of the supernatural aspects invoked differ between the series, but again, they do not contradict each other.  Thank you, US production, for distinguishing your show from its parent in such a deft manner, without making us choose sides.  I love the original, and I love this reimagining.  I can’t think of another instance in which an adaptation, whether it be a spinoff or a “remake,” has so successfully captured my loyalty.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review - Syfy’s Being Human Season 1 Episode 12 “You’re the One I Haunt”

Photo courtesy NBCUniversal
Syfy's Being Human, Mondays at 9pm Eastern

“You can feel the storm gathering…”  so Sally says in the opening voiceover.  I wish I could feel the storm gathering.  I was definitely feeling that last week, in fact the storm had arrived and looked as if it would just keep getting bigger and bigger.  And then, this week, the wind got sucked out.  What happened to the momentum?  I don’t like a calm before the storm when it’s the second-to-last episode of the season.  Yes, yes, the ending was good.  Still, I just wasn’t feeling it this week.  Except -

HOW COOL WAS ZOMBIE SALLY?!  She looked AWESOME.  Kudos to the makeup department and to the actor, her carriage was so perfectly creepy!  I’ll admit that I was ever-so-slightly disappointed when she returned to normal.  And I’m sorry, but nearly killing Danny brought her back to normal?  Those are some really weird supernatural rules.  Revenge Is Good.  Hmm…  It was interesting seeing how her returned strength made her feel encouraged to torture and kill him.  Even when she stopped Aidan from killing him – and wow, how cool did Aidan look when he was looking down on Danny with those sunglasses? – she then told Danny he wasn’t being saved per se, just saved to be tortured.  Somehow it felt much more righteous when she inhabited the exorcist, or even back when she trashed Danny’s apartment.  I know I know, I have always maintained that Sally was at her best when she was strong, and I still believe that, but strong so that she can torture him doesn’t really feel strong, it just feels… creepy, and not in a good way.

But hey, it’s all okay now that Danny’s gone!  Except Danny isn’t “gone,” he’s simply turned himself in.  For now.  I don’t know, it all just felt kind of… rushed?  It just didn’t feel satisfying, like “yay, it’s all over for Danny now, he’s admitted it and Sally can move on.”  If they really wanted to sell that then I feel like Danny needed to be more emphatic, more terrified, or the police officer needed to have a bigger reaction, maybe radio in the homicide team, just SOMETHING.  And THAT’s why Sally got her door, Danny saying that he killed his fiancee?  It certainly wasn’t because Sally forgave him, because she didn’t, she promised to make his life a living hell.   Really, really “interesting” rules for the supernatural in the Syfy Being Human world.  But there it is, Sally’s door, floating in the living room.  I did like how flustered Sally was about the door, it felt very authentic.  Because the door mythology in Syfy’s Being Human is different from the UK version, I really have no idea what’s coming next, and I am interested.  Not exactly dying to find out, but interested.

A good example of where the energy went all quiet was the Aidan flashback.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel like the right story at the right time.  I’m sure there’s a reason and I trust the writers, I learned this from LOST.  They’re the professionals, and they have a plan.  I would have thought it was to lay the foundation for increased rage from Aidan, if Celine had told him what had actually happened, that Bishop had attacked her and threatened her family.  That would have helped push Aidan back into the Dutch camp, or at least even further away from Bishop.  And why didn’t  she tell him what happened when he asked?  In nearly her next sentence she referenced the fact that Aidan had said that Bishop was gone.  That would have been perfect timing.  I suppose she felt it didn’t matter anymore, and that she had lived a happy life after a while, but still.  Again, it was a good story, and it gave Aidan the opportunity to see the benefit of offering to turn someone.  And of course, it gave the costume department a chance to go 70s, which was a riot, and gave post production a chance to use a purple wash on those scenes – so very clever, making the scenes look like what 70s photos now look like.  For you youngsters who may not have seen them, photos from the 60s and 70s now look like they’ve had a purple wash on them, it’s the way the chemicals on the prints have deteriorated that gives them that effect.  Lesson over.

I thought I might be able to get through this review without having to mention actual storylines from the UK version, but I have to with Josh’s story line.  If you want to see the UK version but haven’t yet, or at least haven’t caught up to the latest episodes on BBC America, skip the rest of this paragraph.  Now for the rest of you – I find it so interesting that the Josh/Nora pregnancy is mimicking the George/Nina pregnancy.  We only recently learned that Nina’s pregnancy is greatly accelerated, and now, appropriately, so is Nora’s.  There are of course several differences, beyond just the fact that one relationship has been around for much longer than the other.  But Nora isn’t a werewolf, at least as far as we know, and though it was the night of a full moon, George hadn’t turned when he got Nora pregnant.  So either the two worlds are different, or we know that having one parent be a werewolf, even if not in beast form, is enough to affect the pregnancy.  That rapid growth will likely prohibit Nora from having an abortion, if she was still considering it.  Other than the rapid growth, though, it appears that both pregnancies are normal.  So far at least.  I don’t relish the idea of Nora’s abdomen being ripped open from the inside.  Which is why I found Aidan’s advice to “hold on to the good part, the rest you’ll deal with as it comes” more than a little ridiculous, especially as he’s never heard of a werewolf pregnancy before.  Please please, again I implore the showrunners/writers/powers that be to NOT have Josh prolong the reveal, please have him tell Nora about his condition soon.  I like Josh and Nora very much, and don’t like this particular aspect of their situation.

UK Spoilers Over.  So, was that Bishop who flew in through the widow uninvited?  If so he didn’t look quite like himself (yes, I do understand that his flesh was burning), and if not, they should have used someone with different hair color.  Presuming it was, how badly did that intrusion injure him?  That might be a good and interesting twist.  But why oh why did Josh simply hold Aidan’s arm and call and yell Aidan’s name?  Pre-med student Josh?  I sure don’t want him interning in an ER, that’s for sure.  It was fine as an initial reaction, but it went on waaaaaay too long.  And come on, do any of us believe that Aidan’s really going to die?

Okay, I’m done picking at it.  It really was a solid episode that moved the story along, but if they could have somehow switched last week’s for this week’s it would have been a much more exciting build up to the season finale.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Syfy’s Being Human Season 1 Episode 11–“Going Dutch”

Our Mighty Warrior
Photo courtesy NBCUniversal
Syfy's Being Human, Mondays at 9 pm Eastern.

Y E S !!!  YES YES YES!  GET HIM, SALLY!!!  There was a lot of this going on in my house during my first AND second viewing of this episode!  FINALLY she has once again taken matters into her own hands – or more specifically, into the body of someone else, but STILL!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Sally when they allow her to be powerful.  When she is not, she is a whiner and is much more… let’s call it “more challenging to love.”   And speaking of love, I LOVE what the US production is doing with the bones of the UK series!   As I did last week, if you don’t want to be spoiled about anything past or present in the UK version, skip over the portions in italics, like now: In this episode alone we had giant plot points from UK season one (the death of Rebecca/Lauren), season two (the attempted exorcism of Sally/Annie), and even the currently-new-on-BBCAmerica season three (Nora’s/Nina’s pregnancy).  Of those three major plot twists, only the first is nearly identical in each version; reckless newbie vamp asked our favorite vamp to kill her with a stake, and he does so.

But even with that, the circumstances leading up to it are totally different.  The Dutch!  What a great storyline!  Sure, Aidan was in trouble with the Dutch because of his heretical ways, but Bishop was in even bigger trouble because his future plans were completely contrary to Council laws.  There’s a Council!  We had heard a tiny bit about it before this episode, but now, with Heggeman’s “prepare for what is coming” extremely creepy and ominous warning ringing in Aidan’s ear, what is he going to do?  Who will be stronger, Bishop or Heggeman and presumably the Council?  Bishop has recruited far more “children” than their law allows, for the very reason that the law exists; it will make him and his city stronger than the other vamp families.  It’s a great Godfather-like turn of events, and a terrific setup for some potentially terrific machinations.  Bishop’s planned extermination of the Dutch took me totally by surprise.  Juniper, who knew?  To make the beheading easier.  Wow.  Of course now with Iago Marcus gone, the show is down one schemer, but that was likely for the best from Bishop’s viewpoint, and Aidan’s as well.  Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place: Aidan doesn’t want to live the vamp life in the first place, and now he will be smack in the middle of a war between traditional vamps lead by the Council – and we know how Heggeman feels about heretics – and the New Vamps lead by Aidan’s former mentor Bishop, whom Aidan has just knocked out and from whom Aidan has just saved Heggeman.  Yes, quite the intrigue in store.  Who needs the Borgias?

The exorcism.  I’ll say it again, how awesome was that turn of events?!  Poor Annie got dragged down into – what was that? a way-station? – and had to be saved by Mitchell.  But not our Sally!  She fought back!  Sally and Annie obviously have a lot in common but there are some definite differences.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them both.  But Annie has always seemed somewhat vulnerable and na├»ve, so that when she is put-upon or more directly hurt, you want to rescue her.  She’s not really great at being strong, and when she’s silly she’s just a bit irritating.  Sally, on the other hand, is somewhat irritating when things go badly for her; she seems a bit whiny.  She can be powerful, though, and when she is, look out.  I love Sally when she’s strong.

And WOW was Sally strong in this episode.  She had to be pushed to her greatest rage – “YOU DON’T GET TO MOURN ME!” - before she was strong enough to be able to inhabit the “exterminator,” but how cool was that?!  I wrote “ATTA SALLY” in big letters in my notes.  Loved it.  I wonder what will happen next with her.  Back when LOST was new I had friends who refused to watch the “next time on” previews at the end of the show because they didn’t want to be spoiled.  Being Human is running a risk showing as much as they do in their previews, and this week was no exception.  I will not extend the damage by talking about what they showed, other than to say, “Sally! O_O” 

Speaking of spoilers: “I’m pregnant.”  WHAT?!  Well it was slightly less of a shocker since they included it in the previews and mentioned it in every promo I saw from Syfy, both written and on tv.  So I was pleased that the revelation came so early in the episode.  This will be interesting.

Very interesting.  With George and Nina the werewolf reveal was separated from the pregnancy by two seasons, making them two separate issues.  By combining them, the drama meter clicks way over to the right.  Nora was already planning on never having children because of her family’s history of addiction, mental illness, and aggression.  I’m thinking that, unless they bring in some dramatic reason for keeping it, the werewolf factor will send them to a clinic pronto.  If they have Josh wait to tell Nora about his “deep genetic problem” until he’s sure she’s decided to keep it and therefore MUST reveal it… I can see that being irritating.  Please don’t do that.  Please either have them decide together that, for reasons of unspecified genetic disposition towards problems, they will not keep it, or have Josh tell her right away.  Please don’t have him wuss out and not tell her, or wait for more than a very short amount of time.  Josh is borderline wussy anyway, and that would push him into the Irritating column, which Sally has just vacated.

Definitely one of my favorite episodes of the inaugural season of the series.  I am so very happy that it has been renewed for a second season!  Two more episodes to go for season one, and now more than ever, I  CAN’T  WAIT!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review – Syfy’s Being Human Season 1, Episode 10 “Dog Eat Dog”

The seeming normalcy before the abduction.  Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal
Syfy's Being Human, Mondays at 9 PM Eastern

What did you think of this episode?  There was no easy way to follow a death-of-children episode without it seeming less dramatic.  I enjoyed a fair percentage of the episode, but some of it drove me absolutely crazy.

Sally – I know that I wrote that I wanted some sort of quick resolution to the Sally and Nick problem, but I didn’t mean “toss Nick off with a one-sentence non-appearance dismissal”!  Sheesh!  I liked Nick, and I liked him better than Sally in their scenes together.  She was being immature.  If Nick’s line from last week that “death doesn’t leave much room for change” means that Sally’s going to stay a fairly immature 23, I’m not looking forward to following her character.  But hmmm… Aidan has certainly changed, at least “recently” in his long life, but then again he is “undead,” not “dead,” so…  I dunno.  Please make Sally strong and allow her to mature.

Josh – Warning, this paragraph contains UK series spoilers if you haven’t watched the whole UK series including last week’s episode: It was a weird twist of scheduling that the first werewolf fight in the US version happened the same week that the second ever werewolf fight in the UK version was broadcast here.  If you watch both versions then that sentence made sense.  And if, like me, you watch and enjoy both versions, I hope you are also enjoying the similarities and differences in story lines between the two, as I am.  This is a great case in point.  Yes there was capture of the werewolf by vampires for the purpose of “dog fighting,” the vampire sport of watching (and betting on the outcome of) two werewolves fighting each other.  So interesting that George never killed another werewolf, and that the only killing we’ve seen him do is the execution of Herrick.  And don’t even get me started on THAT story line. 

UK spoilers over Because I am NOT happy about the way they handled Josh killing The Professor and I want everyone to know it.  This fight is built up throughout nearly the entire episode, then we think it’s going to be called off, then we’re horrified that it wasn’t, then we see a flash of a fight and a whimper and WHOMP there’s a commercial break.  What do we see when we return?  A nicely dressed and nearly entirely calm Josh muttering that he doesn't know how he can live with himself.  THAT'S IT.  Sorry, it looked and sounded like he was already over it, and busy poring over the poor man’s notebook.  Worst.  Payoff.  Ever.  NO I didn’t need to see any more of the fight, but hello, how about seeing Josh wake up in horror that he’s covered in blood?  how about a little angst?  how about a panicked Josh asking where that nice Professor man was?  how about a “NO NO NO!” from him?  WHERE IS JOSH’S HUMANITY?  After his ONE LINE about the killing, he asks why the vampires didn’t make him stay in the basement.  COME ON!

And speaking of that – THAT is why Aidan is going back to the family?  Bishop didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, because the fight went forward.  Oops, snickers horrible Marcus.  Bishop has already told the Dutch that it wouldn’t be fair to to all the people betting to continue the fight because the older werewolf is ill.  So… Somewhere, sometime after that Aidan must have confronted Bishop and Bishop said Hang on, how about you still come back and we won’t hold your friend in the basement?  Was there such a scene and is it on the cutting room floor?  Couldn’t we have cut out some of Sally’s whining about her ineffectiveness and yelling at Aidan appearing to do nothing – what would you suggest, Sally? - in favor of putting in a scene like that, maybe combined with the post-return-to-human OMG-what-did-I-do Josh angst scene?  In short, this episode feels like they cut at least five minutes out and we’re left having to rewind the last act once or twice to decipher what must have happened during the commercial break.  Whose fault is this?  Writers, showrunners, advertisers, who?  I want names!!!

Okay, I’ve taken a breath and can now return to more level-headed discussion of the rest of Aidan’s storyline this week.  Flashbacks!  As a LOSTie I am very familiar with, and love, flashbacks and am always interested to see how different shows choose to use them  The color wash given to the 1955 scenes was a nice visual clue to these very relevant scenes.  I particularly enjoyed the reveal near the end of the episode that Aidan of 25 years ago was completely invested in the vampire life BECAUSE of promises made to him by Bishop 200 years before, when he was a brand-new vamp.  Aidan, even when fully engrossed in the vamp life, still thought of the family that he left behind when he joined the creepily named “family” run by – well who knows by whom it was run back in the late 1700s.  Was it Carlo, or had there been someone before him who was considered the Boston Boss back when Boston was a city in the Colonies?  And the whole Dutch thing, how creepy was that?  ONE THOUSAND TEN YEARS OLD.  Nice that the youngster Aidan has a proper respect for (meaning “fear of”) his elders.

One more UK spoiler if you haven’t seen last week’s episode: WOW how different is Bishop from Carrick?  Can you imagine Carrick EVER acting like that around a human, in this century or any other?  Especially once we saw that Carrick was still as creepy as ever?

UK spoilers over.  This felt like a setup episode to me, not only because Bishop’s undead life may be on the line and because we’ll be seeing more of the Dutch next week (I am admittedly somewhat disappointed that next week’s title “Going Dutch” has nothing to do with the LOST series finale) but also because of Sally’s stated need to have actual impact, and the complete lack of Nora in this episode.  Still, getting more information on the workings of the vamp world, some nifty flashbacks and personality turns for Bishop and Aidan, and Josh’s first non-animal kill – oh wait a minute… well you know what I mean – made this a serviceable episode which, for a variety of reasons, left me wanting more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review - Syfy's Being Human, Season 1 Episode 9 "I Want You Back (From the Dead)"

Photo courtesy NBCUniversal
Being Human, Syfy, Mondays at 9pm Eastern
[stunned silence]… wow.  For those of you pining for the darker tones of the UK Being Human, there you go.  Literally a stunning ending.  This wasn’t a cliffhanger so much as a jaw dropper.  It could be because of my familiarity with the UK series, but the US series really seems to change the game with every deviation from its source material.  Shocking, and emotionally wrenching.  There were no victories this week.  A child was killed.  Actually, three children were killed, and one of them was killed twice.  This episode was a game changer.  There were only a few snappy lines, but snappy lines wouldn’t necessarily have been appropriate when you have three dead children, a physically abused woman, and a ghost who dies every single day.

The episode was great, and could have been the best episode of the season, but… I’m sorry to say that I had a couple of quibbles that deflated it for me.  Now I know that a lot of you loved this episode, so please don’t get huffy, just consider these things, from least to most bothersome:

Josh – First, his was clearly the lightest treatment this week, and was in fact very similar to the UK storyline for the werewolf at this point.  Nevertheless, it tracked well and there was enough of a development that I don’t feel his story was shorted in this episode.  Here’s my problem: I understand that he loves Nora, and wants to be with her, but is concerned about presumably two things.  One, that she will retreat from him in horror when she learns the truth, and two, that he might hurt her someday when he is transformed, which is the very reason he left his parents’ home.  Yet somehow when Nora shows Josh her actual scars from a previous relationship, instead of thinking “so the last thing she needs is someone who might physically hurt her even more,” he thinks “well I’m only a monster for one night a month, there are others who are ‘monsters’ more often, and I will protect her.”  Kinda tortured logic, but okay, it’s love, and I understand his wanting to protect her.  Still…

Sally – I love her new guy, and I love the two of them together.  It’s great that she can feel him – their “sex cloud” is a cool effect - and it’s great that she has someone who can teach her more about being a ghost.  My issue: She is upset to realize that she has once again fallen for a man with a problem, and says she will “lose herself in his issues.”  Why?  He has said that he doesn’t need her to fix him, that he manages to enjoy the rest of his day just fine, thank you, and in fact his “life” is much better now that he has Sally to return to afterwards.  So what is her problem?  Maybe it’s because she’s “forever 23,” but seriously?  She needs to respect him enough to allow him to deal or not deal with his problem as he sees fit.  Come on, she has a great relationship with a guy that she knew while they were both living, he can teach and show her so much, and he’s clearly – and literally - into her.  I hate seeing her turn all whiny just for the sake of having her endure more conflict.  Please, please resolve this one quickly.  I hate conflict for conflict’s sake, and I hate whiny.

Aidan – Wow, what a gut-churning storyline.  Extremely well acted by all involved, and well written.  The way Rebecca dealt with cranky Bernie was spot-on for someone with no experience with cranky kids.  Bernie was all innocence.  Aidan was exceptionally well played; horrified, terrified, connecting with Bernie and supportive of Rebecca.  The tension held well throughout, and the end of Bernie was heartbreaking. 

A side note here - I found myself astonished that I wasn’t completely put off by the loud whiner “background” music that came up at that point.  Normally that tactic drives me absolutely crazy because I hate that kind of music, I hate that it usually drowns out the dialogue, and it can feel like lazy writing.  This time, though, I appreciated that they didn’t go for some horrific sound effect, and really there was no alternative but to silence the scene sounds for the sake of the music.  Well done.

Now for my issue.  What Bishop said at the end that kinda ruined it for me, because it was wrong.  “Aidan was thinking he’d start a family of his own.”  No he didn’t.  He didn’t want Bernie to be turned, and he didn’t embrace the idea once Rebecca did it “for” him.  “I don’t know if you’re delusional, naive, or just plain stupid” was his reaction.  He knew that it would never work.  It was all Rebecca’s idea.  The only way that Bishop’s words work is if Biship actually thought, either on his own or because Rebecca lied to him, that Aidan was the one who turned Bernie, or that Rebecca turned Bernie at Aidan’s request. 

It could be argued that, while killing the two bullies was obviously wrong, it was better that they were killed by a skilled and experienced vampire rather than whatever mayhem Bernie was almost sure to cause at some point.  If vampires don’t age in this series, as is the common mythology, Bernie would forever be a threat to the rest of the vampires because he could more easily be discovered.  Perhaps Bishop creating the scenario that pushed Aidan to kill Bernie was done because it had to be done.  Bishop would know that if any other vamp killed Bernie that Aidan would agree that it was necessary but would still blame the Bishop gang and make that yet another reason for him staying away from them.

If all of that is the case, then I wish that Bishop would have said something along those lines, instead of the obviously irritating “Aidan was thinking he’d start a family…”  I realize I’m making a big deal out of one tiny scene and a couple of lines, but it’s what they left us with, they were the last lines of an emotionally fraught episode.  Please straighten us out with this next week, it’s bugging the heck out of me and messing with my reminiscing about an otherwise superb episode.

Today I watched some of the video from the cast interviews at the TCAs (available on syfy.com by clicking here ) and Meaghan Rath (Sally) said that, while based on and inspired by the UK series, the SyFy series will be diverging in big ways.  The addition of Josh’s family and his sister in particular was one big step away, and this week’s episode paved the way for much more.  As I have felt at the end of every other episode so far this season, I can’t wait.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review - Syfy’s Being Human Season 1 Episode 8 - “Children Shouldn’t Play With Undead Things”

Photo courtesy NBCUniversal
Being Human, Syfy, Mondays at 9 PM Eastern
An enjoyable episode this week, although it didn’t have the same level of drama or shock value as some previous episodes.  It did, however, contain more great individual lines than I’ve seen to date for the series. 

Sally, to Josh:  Isn’t that your… what are we calling her?
Josh:  My Nora.
I melted.  We instantly understand that he is completely besotted with the woman.  And when he is unable to approach her, we further understand that he has confidence issues.  At that point of course we’re thinking, as we are told to think by Sally, that it is because the man Nora is with is a doctor, and is gorgeous.  Nice then that it is Sally who brings it full circle at the end of the episode and apologizes for not understanding the horror that is Josh, once a month, every four weeks. 

From an effects perspective, Josh’s transformation was adequate, and the werewolf, while not what I was hoping for, was nevertheless far better than the UK version.  It may be that I got that impression simply because they didn’t show very much of the werewolf in this version.  I appreciate that philosophy; if you don’t have good solid effects, don’t spend a lot of time showing them.

Nora, to Josh: It’s as though you’re an artist and "awkward" is your medium.
Are we surprised that Nora forgave Josh so easily for errrr loving and leaving her the previous night?  It was a rather quick turnaround in attitude, but the fact that she bothered to come over – and that she called first - were good indicators that she was interested, or she would have blown him off just as she thought he had done to her.  Thank goodness they are dealing with this relationship in a fairly straightforward and positive way.  Aidan and Rebecca have enough angst for the show already.   Besides, Josh exhibits enough insecurity that a languishing unrequited love would push him from Kinda Adorable Character toward the Unbearable Character column, and we don’t want that. 

We knew that the Aidan’s DVD of Rebecca was going to come into play again, or we would have seen him destroy it.  I was in fact relieved that they put it to rest this episode, or it would start sliding into “gratuitous” territory, especially since the episode opened with it.

Aidan, to Bernie:  Your "fun" bar is set really low.
Aidan’s relationship with Bernie was sweet, and I was pleased with the way the porn DVD aspect of the storyline was dealt with.  Although fans of the UK series might feel this version was too light, it was entirely in keeping with the entire feel of the US series to make it simply one parent accusing him, and the child quickly explaining that he took it without permission.  The pitchfork-and-torches manner of the UK version was horrifying in the best way, but honestly I was almost considering fast-forwarding if the US version was the same.  I don’t think the US version has anything to apologize for; I appreciate its lighter tone and atmosphere.  It manages to work in a lot of comedy that isn’t silly, and opts for stronger, cooler, less dramatic but still interesting and sympathetic characters that I want to watch.  Speaking of which…

Sally’s response to Aidan when he told her that she needed to be working on her “journey”:  I love how you say "journey" like I’ve hopped on some fantastical winged steed and am soaring through some cloudy land of adventure.
I liked Sally a lot more this week.  I didn’t dislike her before, but she sometimes exhibited a weakness that wasn’t dramatic enough to come off as much more than a whine.  She had some good, snappy lines this week that made her rise to the level of Josh’s delivery in the best ways.  “If you think I’m going into a place that scares a member of the undead, you’ve flipped your pancake” was really well delivered.  Writers, please keep writing like this for her, it suits her.

The ghost hall was weird, and distracting enough that I didn’t catch much of the point of it the first time I watched, which is a shame.  That the way to move on is different for each person, and that sometimes it helps to just announce yourself, are what I suppose were the two main points.  Aidan later warned her that if she didn’t quickly figure out why she hadn’t moved on, she could end up like those hallway ghosts: “If you wait too long it will be too late, searching for pieces of a puzzle that doesn’t even exist any more.”  Another lovely line.

But the fact that watching Josh transform got Sally over her self-proclaimed pity party really won me over.  Yay, she recognizes that she’s been a whiner and she’s ready to start looking for answers!  Yay, she realizes that she may actually be able to do something about her “monster-ness.”  Just as her previous best moment was when she took control of the situation with her former fiancee and trashed his apartment, taking control of her situation as a ghost, apologizing to Josh for her attitude, and “writing” on the hallway wall showed a strength that serves her character well.

Again, not the strongest episode, but enough advancement on the plot and the characters, and more than enough great lines, to get me excited about the next episode.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review - Syfy's Being Human Season 1 Episode 7 - "I See Your True Colors … and That's Why I Hate You"

Photo courtesy NBCUniversal
Being Human, Syfy, Mondays at 9pm Eastern.
EXCELLENT CREEPY CLIFFHANGER!  Just had to get that out of my system; now I can proceed.  That seems to be an area that this series is doing particularly well.  Not every episode, which in itself is commendable, but when they do it  (this episode, the previous episode, and the pilot) it has been genuinely surprising, leaving you wanting to fast forward to the next episode, and interestingly, something entirely outside of the UK version of the series, so truly a cliffhanger for all. 

Unfortunately, their resolutions in the following episodes have left something to be desired.  At the end of the last episode, Emily was bloody because she had been attacked.  BY A VAMPIRE.  At the beginning of this episode, our gang is at the hospital (minus Sally who for some reason is not there) while Emily is treated.  When Aidan sees that Bishop is doing the investigating, he gets suspicious, and quickly determines that Marcus is the one who attacked Emily.  Why doesn't he check for bite marks IMMEDIATELY?  We were all wondering if she'd been bitten at the end of the last episode, and that was clearly meant to be part of our concern about Emily.  Really?  It would have taken 2 seconds to show Aidan checking her neck.  Some cleaner, clearer resolutions for the cliffhangers would be appreciated, so here's hoping for that in the next episode.

Okay, back to the beginning.  Sally did the voiceover for this episode's introduction, which included the great line "even a monster can be afraid of the darkness."  I'm thinking that would have been a much better title for the episode, as the cute titles continue unabated.  I get that they're using song titles, but why?

I'm also not totally satisfied with the way they've been dealing with the Marcus vs. Josh discussion.  Bishop told Aidan that Marcus "was provoked by a lesser being.  You let your dog run wild, the rest is justice."  Josh and his creepy were-Daddy beat up Marcus and another vamp.  Why in the world wouldn't Marcus want to retaliate?  The fact that he chose Emily as his victim instead of Josh wasn't really explained, although I expect it's because he doesn't want Josh and potentially others to come after him during the one to two nights per month when werewolves, according to some versions of the legend at least, are more powerful than vampires.  By choosing Emily he is pointing out to Josh that for most nights and all days, Josh will not be able to protect his friends and family against vampires.  It might have been nice if someone had simply said this.  Still, I like the dynamic of Bishop, Aidan, Marcus, and the rest of the vamps.  The creepiness, foreboding, and vague mentions of Aidan once being a sort of vamp superpower, have been nicely played.

Sally's storyline unfortunately swung back to the weak side in this episode.  After starting to feel more powerful in the last episode, her failure to convince Bridget of Danny's menace in this episode just deflated her.  They did, however, do a much better job in this episode than they previously had at detailing the things that Danny did that pointed to him being an abuser.  Sally's telling Bridget that hoping that a new dress or the perfect cake would make everything right again, by making him happy, was very in keeping with the combined hope and degradation that victims reportedly feel.  We need to see more strength from Sally if we're going to continue to feel sympathy for her character. 

But YOWIE how creepy is Danny?!  Kudos to the writers and the actor playing Danny for stepping it up this episode, just as they did in the UK version.  "That's the best you got?  You're more pathetic as a ghost than when you were alive … and I'm happy.  Finally."  Wow, just who exactly is the monster in this scenario?

I really enjoyed the scenes with Josh's family.  Josh's parents were hilarious.  The writers totally nailed the "concerned educated parents" - trying to not scare him off, calm and smiling, totally tense underneath. "Thank you Josh, for sharing that."  They even were able to maintain the veneer of understanding when his dad asked, "How long have you thought you're a werewolf?"  As for Emily, it made complete sense that Emily would have shown her parents Josh's journal; as she said, she thought he needed help, and she was scared.  The bit about the garlic was kind of cute, and continued the lighter feel of the meal once Aidan arrived.  It gave Josh another opportunity for a good line, when trying to determine what he could give Aidan to help him recover: "Anything I don't have to summon a warlock for." 

Going home was a really lovely idea, and everything seemed so comforting and normal.  Marcus showing up at their doorstep was therefore particularly terrifying, and Josh played that well, though it was shot in a bit of a silly way once he started breaking up the hat stand.  But hello. why didn't Josh tell his parents that Marcus was Emily's attacker?  They might have better understood Josh's reaction.  If it was because he felt he needed to protect them from his world, fine, but it seemed an obvious thing to do.

I was really hoping for a slightly better indication of what Josh's parents actually thought of his "coming out."  It seemed like they thought he was crazy, which would be an appropriate response, but if he was actually going to stay he would have to somehow convince them that he was telling the truth.  It wasn't clear, though, because Emily said that she would come home once a month and help, as though she believed him.  Ah well, there's only so much that can fit into a one hour commercial tv episode.

Aidan's discussion with Josh about why staying wouldn't work was a nice way to remind us of how long Aidan has been a vampire, and give us a hint of his dark past.  His final line to Josh was my favorite of the episode, and summed it up nicely: "They're your family, and that's exactly why they're defenseless against you."

Which brings us back to the final scenes.  Marcus is in trouble with Bishop.  Bishop claiming that they have too much to do and too little time to waste on not including the weakest, and the "mistakes," was a cool setup for what may be to come.  That what's-to-come looks like it may include some kind of showdown between Bishop and -- The Cocooned Things?  Seriously, very cool ending, and I can't wait for what I hope will be an excellent continuation in the next episode.