As painful as it is to admit, we live in the Age of the Vampire — the era of “Twilight,” “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries.” For the most part, the college generation is just old enough to have bypassed this obsession in favor of wizards and superheroes and other cool things. But it is this age range that SyFy targets with “Being Human,” an American version of the British show about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost trying to lead normal lives.
Mondays at 9 p.m.
Vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer, “The Mist”) and werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington, “Superman Returns”) come off as an unequal duo of male alpha and bumbling sidekick. Josh’s jokes are more annoying than laugh-out-loud funny, but at least his condition allows Aidan a few deadpan one-liners about his friend’s irritability and how lycanthropy — the ability to transform into a werewolf — is a “useless condition.”
“Being Human” unfolds as a bro-show for the first 10 minutes, before Aidan and Josh find themselves an apartment that plays host to the ghost Sally (newcomer Meaghan Rath). She serves no real purpose in the pilot other than to provide a third supernatural condition and a female influence in a predominantly male cast. The character starts out annoyingly bubbly, thrilled to finally be in the presence of beings who can see her. She’s so annoying that when she actually cries about her condition, the effect is too alarming to elicit audience sympathy. It comes off as self-pity instead of an actual predicament. Sally and Josh both feel too sorry for themselves to be interesting characters, especially with Sally’s mood swings and Josh’s perpetually worried expression.
If the show is trying to send a message about its fantastical beasts, it’s that vampires are sexy and brooding, werewolves are wily and unfortunate and ghosts can’t really do anything. After all the hype about three fictitious beasts living together, the vampire takes priority. Aidan’s voice narrates the opening montage and the episode focuses more on him than on the other two leads. He accidentally kills a girl in the cold open, an incident that defines his actions throughout the episode. This haunting crime almost makes farce of the sight of Josh waking up naked next to an animal carcass à la Remus Lupin in “A Very Potter Sequel.”
Aidan’s backstory is also the most compelling; by comparison, it looks like the writers barely tried on behalf of the other characters. Josh left his family, Sally misses her fiancée … boo hoo. Aidan’s dark past includes a wedding reception-turned-massacre facilitated by a formidable Mark Pellegrino, who does an excellent job being the bad guy after trying to keep evil at bay as Jacob on “Lost.”
Even though “dramedy” is an accepted genre these days, “Being Human” doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Somewhere between the casually teasing back-and-forth between supernatural creatures and the intense, self-pitying monologues, it’s easy to get lost between all the characters and their baggage. Even though we’re given plenty of backstory and suspense, there’s just too much to keep up with and care about in the pilot. After all, we’re only human.