Q & A with Syfy's Being Human Executive Producers Anna Fricke and Jeremy Carver

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(L-R) Being Human's Meaghan Rath (Sally), Sam Witwer (Aidan) and Sam Huntington (Josh)

You never know quite what you are getting into when you agree to be roommates with someone, and that has certainly been true with Aidan McCollin, Josh Radcliff and Sally Malik, our trio of supernatural protagonists in Syfy’s Being Human.

In the show’s first season, Aidan (Sam Witwer), a vampire, and Josh (Sam Huntington), a werewolf, decided to move in with each other in an effort to live normal lives amongst humans. They ended up with a third roommate after discovering that their rented Boston brownstone was haunted by a ghost named Sally (Meaghan Rath), who tragically died on the premises.

As much as they tried to blend in, they could not always control events caused by their secret double lives. Things do not get any easier in season two (premiering Monday, January 16 at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on Syfy). Aidan faces greater temptations with his vampire lifestyle when he enters into an agreement with “Mother" (Deana Aziz), the ruthless vampire Queen, to train her disgraced vampire royal daughter Suren (Dichen Lachman).

Sally discovers the true potential of her ghostly abilities when she meets a group of new spectral friends. Unfortunately, it is all not fun and play, as she begins to venture down a dark and destructive path. As for Josh, he still has no idea that during his transformation he accidentally scratched his girlfriend Nora, and the coming of the next full moon is destined to forever change both their lives.

Last week, Being Human executive producers/show runners Anna Fricke and Jeremy Carver spent part of an afternoon on the phone with me and some other journalists to talk about the show’s upcoming second season. The following is an edited version of our Q & A (beware of some minor spoilers). Enjoy!

Last season many of the plots were similar to the U.K. show; can we expect that the U.S. show will branch off on its own this season?

Anna Fricke: Yes, we made a decision this year to do completely original story lines.

Jeremy Carver: That said, I think given that the show obviously has its roots in the British version, there's always going to be an inevitable crossover just by virtue of swimming in the same pond. But going back to Anna's answer, yes, there was a great effort to make the series as original as possible this year.

What are some of the changes that we’re going to see in the show this year? I know some of the actors have said the stories are going to be a lot darker in season two.

JC: As you’ve seen in some of the press materials, the sort of underlying theme of this season is that each of our characters is being tempted by something that is leading them down a darker path. One of the things that we're playing with is that in trying to become more and more human, they’re actually being forced to confront their monstrosities more than ever.

Whereas last year you maybe had one of the characters going down a darker path and being able to rely on the other characters, this year each of our three main characters is being so enmeshed in sort of a darker path that there's less of a safety net in each other. So the question is basically what do you do when you're falling, falling, falling, and your support system isn't necessarily there for you when you need it.

Can you talk about the relationships we're going to see this year and what will be happening with them?

JC: Aidan is confronted with the fallout from the death of Bishop, who he killed at the end of last year, and we’re introduced to another aspect of the vampire hierarchy in current day America, which involves sort of this overall leader known as Mother. She’s essentially going to trade Aidan his freedom if he agrees to train her disgraced vampire daughter - played by Dichen Lachman from Dollhouse - to be the leader of Boston. That opens up a whole can of worms in terms of Aidan having to deal with this unpredictable daughter who he’s known, frankly, for close to 100 years.

Along with that we're going to be introduced to Aidan's vampire protégé, who's basically the last vampire Aidan ever turned back in the early 20th Century. That's the character of Henry, played by Kyle Schmid (of Blood Ties). Both of these people will greatly complicate Aidan's life and play a major part in leading him down this dark hole that he may end up going down this season. We don’t want to spoil anything, but you can also expect to see Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) return in a certain way this season.

Josh, of course, is dealing with the fallout or at least is totally unaware that at the end last season he scratched Nora when he turned into a werewolf. So as we come into season two, we find Josh and Nora both anxiously awaiting the rapidly approaching full moon, neither knowing what's going to happen. The results of that sort of have an explosive effect on their relationship. We’ll also see some more people from Josh's past reenter the picture in a surprising way.

As for Sally, we've got a ghost who missed her door last season. She chose instead to save Aidan, and she deals heavily with that fallout. Sally will be introduced to lots of new ghost characters this year who will be sort of tempting her with new, sort of spectral — if that's the proper term — temptation that will also lead her down a much darker path.

So she and Josh are dealing with not just new and twisty monster sort of things that come from a natural extension of being who they are, but also with people who they previously dealt with before becoming “monsters.” As for Aidan, he’s dealing mostly people he's dealt with as vampire.

Can you talk about what has been the most challenging story line to create so far?

AF: I think it's a necessary aspect of Aidan's background to tell, but it's been a little tricky to figure out the realm of vampire politics. Vampires are obviously by nature very old and things go a ways back, so we just wanted to make sure that we got things right, and I think we did. That was a lot to take on and an exciting challenge, but when you're talking about people who are thousands of years old it gets a little complicated.

Has there been a story line that you have wanted to tackle, but for whatever reason have not been able to yet?

JC: Yes, it’s actually an existing Aidan story line, but I don't even want to tease it just because it's coming.

AF: I don't think you have to give away the story, but we really keep on wanting to get back into what exactly happened with Aidan's family, with his wife and child…

JC: His original wife and child back in Revolutionary times.

AF: So we won't say what we're thinking about for that, but that is a story that we actually wanted to get into, but haven't time for this year.

JC; It's a story that we all know and love, and can't wait to spring it should we be lucky enough to have a future season.

With the vampire politics kind of overtaking that story line, will there be some similar organization or coming together of ghosts and/or werewolves?

AF: I think it's safe to say that this season we sort of see a new form of every monster. We have a new sort of vampire and we’ll see different kinds of ghosts as well and a sort of different ghost society that we've touched on before, and also a different kind of werewolf. So while we may have that same mob structure with the vampires, I think, yes, we do see a sort of greater world and hierarchy with the ghosts and werewolves.

JC: I think last season we introduced Josh to just one other wolf, right, and the professor, This year we’re basically starting to expand the types of werewolves that we're seeing, and there will be a particular type that Josh meets and that will greatly alter his world. Basically there’s more than one kind of species of werewolf in our world, and we're really excited about that.

Likewise with Sally. She's not just making friends with ghosts as a result of turning down her door. We're also going to be introduced to a different species, for lack of a better word, of ghost, that she may have unwittingly caused to come into our world by essentially “screwing” with the heavens as it were and passing up her door.

It's all tremendous fun, really scary and, like I said, we couldn't be more excited about how we've expanded the worlds of our various monsters this season. It's all pretty ambitious and we're really thrilled to share it with everybody.

Sally kind of finds out a new power that ghosts have in the first couple of episodes. Is that something that's going to come back up and that she'll be using throughout the season, or is that pretty much resolved in the first few episodes?

AF: Yes, her new knowledge is something that she will continue to struggle with and come up against.

JC: We're talking about things a little bit clinically here in terms of different species of this and that, but at its heart we're always going back to our characters. Sally has been desperate to move on from her existence as a ghost, right? That's basically what all of last season was, "How do I move on from this place?" And with her door not an option any more, at least in terms of the door not being presented to her in a possible way now, how does she go about escaping what is essentially the eternal loneliness of being a ghost?

So when she's presented with new ways of, "being human," she leaps at them and does so knowing that it could lead her down a darker path. And just because it leads her down a darker path doesn't necessarily mean that she's going to stop doing it. That temptation is, of course, the underlying theme of this season, and that's what we're seeing all three of our characters struggling with - how far is far enough

What were some of maybe the biggest writing and/or production challenges you guys found with the season two opener, and sort of carrying on the story from last season into this year.

AF: Part of it was the timeline. I think because of how we ended the first season we sort of married ourselves to having to pick things up pretty quickly. So we had to figure out that timeline in the beginning in terms of what was happening with Aidan after Bishop's death, what was happening in Boston, what was happening with Josh’s change and working around the full moon cycle. We basically couldn't go past the full moon turning, not only because of Josh, but also because Nora' had been scratched and we didn’t know what's happening there.

JC: I think even in a more general sense you always hope that your first season is going to attract more viewer to season two. So while we're a pretty serialized show and we want to give the returning fans what they're looking for, we also have to make sure we're bringing in new viewers and keep making them feel welcome as well.

AF: We want to set up all the new characters and the new things that we're excited about.

JC: Exactly. There was a lot of setting up of new things for seasoned viewers, but while still wanting to grab the new viewers by the ankles and make sure they weren't left behind. So I think season openers are always some of the trickiest because there’s so much almost Calculus, if you will, or mathematical equations that need to be done as there is heart and emotion and all that type of stuff.

Did you have to do a great deal of searching when it came to casting the characters played by Dichen Lachman and Kyle Schmid?

AF: We had to look for Suren, who Dichen plays. We went through some searching for that character. Kyle was actually someone we had read before, but for various reasons he wasn’t available last season. So this year we were sort of throwing out names for the Henry character and then said, "You know who it would be great to see again, Kyle Schmid," and he turned out to be perfect for the role.

JC: We’re both great fans of Dichen, so it was a really happy moment when her name came across our desk, because she just seemed perfect for the part.

Will Kristen Hager’s character of Nora be integrated more into the story line this season?

JC: Absolutely. Nora is a fantastically integral part of the show and we haven't spoken about her enough. I mean, Kristen Hager is a real gem and she deserves a mention all her own. I can say that she comes into her own, Nora, in a way that she never expected and that is surprising as well as exciting along with dangerous and tempting. Nora very much goes down a wholly sort of self-sufficient road this year, and that has massive implications with her relationship with Josh. So, yes, she blossoms as a character in season two in terms of story line and screen time.

Please note, all photos above copyright of Syfy.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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