The Lady Killer. The Underdog. The Free Spirit. That’s the tongue-in-cheek description of Being Human, the new SyFy series about a vampire (played by Sam Witwer), a werewolf (San Huntington) and a ghost (Meaghan Rath) living together as house mates while trying to come to grips with their non-human condition.
Based on the popular BBC drama-comedy, Being Human has now been adapted as an American series, beginning with a 13-episode first season that debuts this month on SyFy. Husband-and-wife showrunners Jeremy Carver and Anna Fricke recently sat down for a joint interview to discuss how they’ve given the new version its own distinct identity…
How important are the metaphors that you’ve been developing for the series? For example, you seem to be portraying Aidan your vampire character as a recovering addict of sorts.
Jeremy Carver: I think you’ve hit it on the head, particularly with Aidan. That addiction metaphor was actually part of our original pitch for him. To that end, we’ve created a few more temptations for Aidan in the vampire world, which I don’t think existed in the British show.
It’s not spoiling anything to say that in our mythology, the vampires have created what we call a ‘blood den,’ almost like an opium den where you can feed on relatively willing human blood, which is something you see in episode one. It’s a place that offers a middle ground between having to kill and succumbing to the desire for live blood. It figures pretty prominently throughout the season in terms of a ‘no go’ zone for Aidan.
Of course there are several things going on with Sally. Who doesn’t at one point in their lives think about who they are and how they got to where they are in their lives? That’s pretty much what Sally struggles with this season. With Josh, he takes most to heart the notion that we’re all a bit ashamed of what we perceive to be a monstrosity within us.
I think the British series hit on that even more; the metaphor they went with was an anger management issue. I think we hit on that too but maybe not to the same extent.
Have you ever talked to Toby Whithouse who created the British series?
Anna Fricke: I think Toby was actually very busy with the British show until recently, but he’s now started to weigh in. From the inception of this when we got the job, Rob Pursey the other executive producer has been very involved, but only in the most helpful way.
He was on all of the early conference calls and e-mail chains and would always step in and say, ‘This is why we did it this way, and I like what you’re doing here and here’s how we avoided this pitfall; here’s what you might think about…’ That was very helpful, because this is all new ground for us.
Jeremy: He’s been very good at running through some of the ways they fell into pitfalls in season one. He was up there in Montreal when we were doing the first sound mix for episode one and he very instructive about the trial and error they had gone though with their own version.
We’re pushing very hard for the show to have an indy music feel and that goes with the score as well, and he was encouraging us to keep pushing it. This might get too technical, but in terms of the fact that show can really hold a lot and you can push it further than you think you want to go, because again, the show hopefully has so much heart and so much drive that he was telling us to be confident about really embracing what we have and to go for it.
Are you developing an ongoing mythology for the series?
Anna: There is an over-arcing mythology to the season, but the episodes are for the most part close-ended. There are a few episodes that are kind of continuous.
Jeremy: It’s not like a procedural show, where you solve a case every week, but you do get a sense of closure whether that closure is upbeat or uneasy. I think the most exciting thing for us this season has been what we consider to be the mythology of the back-stories of our characters.
What we’ve discovered is there’s such a great richness to explore not only in the family members we’ve already met, but we’ve also alluded very strongly to people we have not actually met yet. I think the ground has been set very nicely for these people to appear so it’s almost as if they’ve been characters all along.
We also feel that no one ever quite goes away in this show, because there’s so much opportunity to have them weave in and out, whether it’s flashbacks or something else we play with quite a lot, which is walking daydreams.
There are a lot of ‘Is it real or is it fantasy?’ sequences for our characters, so we’ve got a lot of opportunities there. In other words, it’s not just a monster mythology. I think we’ve created an additional dramatic mythology with our characters in terms of the way we’ve expanded their world.
What would you tell viewers to get them to watch your version of Being Human?
Jeremy: Both of us are horrible at self-promotion. We’re much more comfortable with self-deprecation. The compliment to us could be that we reinvented it in a certain way, and I think that’s what we were given the task of doing.
I think if you’re a fan of the original, you’re going to tune in and see some familiar things presented to you in a very different way and you’re going to be- hopefully- pleasantly surprised by the way we take things again that are familiar to you from what you’ve seen and the way we spin them out in different ways.
Anna: I would ask that people hang on for a few episodes, because we start the series in a familiar way, but then we break off, so I hope people will give us a chance to see the original storylines that we bring into it.
The US version of Being Human debuted on SyFy January 17th.