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A Vampire, a Ghost and a Werewolf are roommates in New Show

Posted by GoreMaster Special Effects on July 19, 2009

“Being Human”

JAMIN BROPHY-WARREN – Wall Street Journal

   Writer Toby Whithousespent more than a year working intermittently on a drama about three roommates: a sex addict, an agoraphobe and a guy with anger-management issues. He was about to give up when he decided to add a touch of the supernatural, and his three characters became something slightly different: a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf.

The resulting show, “Being Human,” debuts next Saturday on BBC America.

  The premise sounds a bit like the setup of a joke—a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf are sharing a flat—but the execution and plot aim to turn the stuff of fantasy into legitimate drama. Annie, the ghost, faces issues relating to her youthful demise; George, the werewolf, struggles to embrace his dual nature. Mitchell attempts to quit drinking the blood that sustains his life as a vampire (he sometimes has a setback—which generally results in a human fatality).

   The characters have problems akin to those of addicts—as they struggle with their supernatural problems, they suffer through bouts of depression and loneliness. Mitchell (actor Aidan Turner) tries to steer clear of intimate relationships with women because he knows that they will end badly.

Mr. Whithouse, who created the show for the BBC—the British parent network of BBC America—says that although actors don’t have experience being vampires, they are usually able to “play somebody going through withdrawal” or to draw on other real-life situations.

   “Being Human” is the latest TV project to try attracting a broad audience to supernatural fare—once considered niche material for sci-fi fans. HBO’s popular series “True Blood,” for example, examines a world where vampires wrestle with finding a place in a world that’s deeply suspicious of them.

   Goremaster Makeup Effects ManualBBC America is hoping for a hit along the lines of its other popular sci-fi crossover, “Doctor Who.” While the summer is traditionally a slow time for new releases, the network has several launches, including the beginning of the third season of “Torchwood” and two summer specials for “Doctor Who.” The network will be promoting its summer sci-fi shows heavily next week at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual comic book and entertainment convention, and bringing talent to several panels.

Richard De Croce, head of programming for BBC America, says he hopes that the show will attract both sci-fi fans and a broader audience. “We’re not talking about aliens here. We’re talking about people with supernatural powers who really want to fit in,” he says. He says he first saw the “Being Human” pilot about a year and a half ago. Launched 10 years ago and headed by former WB Television chair Garth Ancier, BBC America which primarily shows fare from BBC,is in 64 million homes and launches an HD channel next week.

  The use of the supernatural is fairly subdued in “Being Human.” The budget didn’t allow for complicated special effects. The werewolf transformation scenes, for example, were completed with prosthetics and animatronics instead of computer-generated imagery.

   Mr. Whithouse says that sci-fi can age poorly over time but writing compelling characters lasts much longer. “I think the moment the supernatural stuff gets ahead of the characters, we’re finished,” Mr. Whithouse says.

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