being human

The definition of original

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a TV show successfully runs in Britain for three years and few Americans see it, is a remake original?

If the definition of original is “new, fresh, inventive” as says, the answer is obviously no. Nonetheless, SyFy channel is promoting “Being Human” as a new “original” series. While it is new to the American cable channel formerly known as SciFi, it isn’t even really new to American audiences that have been able to see it on BBC America for some time now.

There is nothing fresh about remaking shows from other countries with American actors and backgrounds. It has been done with varying degrees of success (mostly commercial vs artistic) for years now with the likes of American Idol and The Office on the popular side and Coupling and Top Gear USA garnering somewhat smaller audiences. Ripping off a successful concept goes back to the origins of entertainment, with most of Shakespeare’s classics being based on older tales retold. There is nothing inherently wrong with adaptation it if executed well and especially if adds something new when redone.

However, the way its typically done by American producers, original is not a word that should be connected with the practice. I haven’t seen the American version of Being Human and I probably won’t. The British version was a reasonably entertaining tale of a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living together and trying to make their way in the modern world.  But did it really need a rehash? Are Americans too parochial to deal with British accents? Why not just show the real original to a wider audience here.