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petzipellepingo [userpic]
by petzipellepingo (petzipellepingo)
at August 12th, 2010 (04:44 am)

'Being Human' gets last laugh
Monster show is a smash hit

McClatchy Newspapers

If you think the concept of "Being Human," the BBC's surprise hit series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost sharing an apartment, sounds ridiculous, the people who make the show take exception.

They think it's beneath even the lowest conception of television dignity, unwatchable and unmakeable.

"I laughed ridiculously about it when they suggested it," says Lenora Crichlow, the 25-year-old actress who plays the ghost, Annie. "To be honest, my reaction was, 'Are you serious?' I take my acting quite seriously. I'd just quit a heavy drama. This sounded like an absurd joke."

And it was, kind of.

Toby Whithouse, the show's creator, had filled entire cemeteries with discarded "Being Human" scripts. The one Crichlow saw had been written in the giddy certainty that it would never be produced. "By the last one, I just assumed the show would never be made," Whithouse admits. "And the moment I realized that, it completely liberated me. Nothing I've ever written was ever easier."

But "Being Human," which airs its second season on BBC America at 10 p.m. Saturdays, turned out to be anything but the campy, supernatural rip-off of "Three's Company" that everybody expected.

Instead, it's a wistful, witty and sometimes quite scary meditation on whether life is wasted on the living. Even more surprisingly, it's a (pardon the expression) monstrous hit -- not only in Great Britain, where outraged fans thwarted a BBC attempt to cancel it, but on this side of the Atlantic, where it pulled in some of the highest ratings in BBC America history last year.

Even now, nobody who works on "Being Human" can quite believe its success.

"It had never really occurred to me that the show might air in the United States," Whithouse says. "One doesn't want to tempt fate. It had already been a long and exhausting process getting it to the screen. I was just grateful anyone was watching it and enjoying it. A life beyond that, I didn't want to think about it."

TV shows that go bump in the night are hardly a novelty in American television; from The CW's "Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural" to ABC's "The Gates" to CBS' "Ghost Whisperer," TV has more fangs and phantasms than you can shake a crucifix at. What distinguishes "Being Human" from the werewolf pack is the way the characters' struggles with their supernatural sides complicate the ordinary romantic and workplace dramas of 20-somethings.

Annie the ghost must stand by, jealously and invisibly, watching her old boyfriend take up with another girl. George the werewolf (Russell Tovey) must explain to landlords why the furniture is reduced to a heap of kindling every time there's a full moon. And Mitchell the vampire (Aidan Turner) no longer dates because his kisses inevitably result in something more gruesome than hickeys.

Their relations with God are even more problematic. When George tells Annie he's no longer an Orthodox Jew and can eat bacon, she inquires, "Do they have rules about being a werewolf as well?" George, his mordant wit wrapped around a core of despair, replies: "I think you'd be hard pressed to find a religion that doesn't frown on it."

Additional Facts
'Being Human'
10 p.m.
BBC America