At a presentation at the Television Critics Association conference in Pasadena today, the cast and producers of Syfy’s new show Being Human, about a vampire, a ghost, and a werewolf living together, praised the original UK version, but then argued that their remake is both different and worthwhile.
“It was about embracing what the original had, which we loved,” said Mark Stern, the President of Original Programming at Syfy. “But I think there’s a great opportunity to explore more of that world, which we’ve done. We had thirteen episodes [in our first season], they had six.”
Both shows deserve to exist, Stern said. “There is a certain amount of [similar] ground that needs to be covered in the beginning. But the deeper into the series, the more they diverge. Watching the British series won’t spoil this series. They really do complement each other.”
“It’s a great premise,” said executive producer Jeremy Carver. “We [do] follow a similar trajectory at first. As a fan of the BBC version, we took great delight that we could confront some of these same moments, but then said to ourselves, ‘What if we did this differently?’ You’ll see moments that you think you recognize, but we take it in a different direction.”
“There are cultural differences,” added Sam Witwer, who plays the vampire. “Culturally, this is a North American version that deserves to be told.”
Seeing the actors was disconcerting, because they all look and sound more than a little like their UK counterparts.
Even so, the cast and producers all claim not to have watched much of the BBC version.
“We haven’t really seen it,” said Witwer. “I saw the first episode.”
“I’ve seen a couple of episodes,” said Sam Huntington, who plays the werewolf. “I was unaware of the BBC series until I was up for the job. Then I read the first two episodes [of our version], and they were beautiful.”
“We actually made a point of not watching the second season,” said executive producer Anna Fricke. “Because were mapping out our season and didn’t want to be influenced.”
“We didn’t want to just mimic them,” said Witwer. “Hopefully, if we’re successful, we’ll bring to them a bigger audience than they have now. They deserve that.”
The show is much more than its fantasy elements, the producers said.
“It has those supernatural elements, but if you took that all that away, it would still work, because it has these [great] characters,” Fricke said.
“At the core of every story, what all these charaacters struggle with, is what all of us take for granted,” said Carver.
The producers also promised that the US version would be as dark and provocative as the UK version has been.
“What we loved about the original series is that is it dark, it does push the envelope, and we want to do the same thing,” Fricke said.
Being Human premieres January 17th on Syfy.