But then I actually started watching it, and I found myself truly enjoying the US version in a way that I, for some reason unknown to me, could not with the UK version. I panicked - did I really need it to be reformatted for me because I'm an American?! I love numerous other BBC shows, and there are many foreign horror films that fall onto my favorites list. I've finally sat down and made myself watch through at least the first series of the UK version, as well as half of the second series, and I believe that I've pinpointed my issue with the two versions. I reassured myself in discovering the differences and realized that I simply find the US version (surprisingly) to be the superior show. I know I'm going to get a lot of flak for that, though I think that supporters of the UK version are doing so just out of loyalty and familiarity and the whole "they did it first so obviously it's better!" I can understand that sentiment - there are a lot of camp and cult films that I enjoy and would hate to see remade, polished, and put together in a better format. I love those films because of and in spite of their faults. Repo! The Genetic Opera is one such film that comes to mind - it's simply not everyone's cup of tea. But that's what I feel the US version is - a retooling of the UK version, with a little more time taken to it, thus making it fit together better. The monsters actually feel like monsters.
Now, I'll compare the first seasons of each, since the US blatantly rips the plot lines from the UK version in order to get their show off the ground - when it comes to the second seasons, things start to veer apart with greater force. Firstly, there's a major difference between the characters in each version. I think the most noticeable difference is between that of the ghosts, Annie (UK) and Sally (US). Though both are the requisite POCs on the show, Annie is a (excuse the pun) gentle soul who enjoys nothing more than making tea and mothering everyone in the immediate vicinity. I personally found her eternally optimistic attitude to be grating and incredibly annoying, but there we are. And then we have Sally, who fulfills more of a younger sister role. She's spunky and definitely someone with her own mind, who wants to do her own thing and not necessarily concern herself with the problems of everyone else. Both of them want to have had their lives, but in drastically different ways - Sally eventually comes to the realization that she was with her fiancee, Danny, because it was the norm, it was what was expected of her. Annie, after losing Owen (the UK version of Danny), resorts to projecting her need to care for others onto Mitchell and George. She still deals with problems, but it's other people's problems, not her own. I love strong female characters - both of these characters are strong, in their own way, but I personally find Sally's brand of personality to be far less grating.
There are several differences between Mitchell and Aiden, as well as George and Josh. I feel like Josh is much more filled out than George - Josh isn't just going to hide from the animal that he is, he's going to stop it. The fact that he's intelligent is not left to the wayside, and progressively it's shown that he is making an attempt to study and understand his condition, rather than just sit idly by. George doesn't get around to making a greater attempt to control himself until the second season. But their personalities are fairly similar - both are nerdish and bad at talking with women, the status quo of any intelligent male character. Then the vampires are also remarkably different - Aiden is the unspoken leader of the US trio, a sort of big brother/father figure to whom everyone can run when they have a problem that needs solving. And this makes sense, because, hey, he's been around for over a hundred years! You'd think he'd pick up a few tips or tricks. Mitchell is more on a level playing field with George and Annie - they all help each other out, and Mitchell seems more comfortable with opening up to his house mates than Aiden is. Also, as a side note, I far more enjoyed Bishop than Herrick, one because Herrick's Napoleon shtick was made even more evident due to his short stature and fell in line with the UK's comedic approach to the subject material, and the tension/bromance between Bishop and Aiden is just spectacular. There just isn't the same spark between Mitchell and Herrick.
And then there are the story lines. Nina gets written off so quickly once she becomes a werewolf. Nora, her US counter part, certainly doesn't start to shine until the second season, but she hangs on for much longer than Nina does when it comes to the issues between her and Josh and how Josh views his condition. I especially liked how they tied together the storylines of Rebecca (the US version of Lauren) with the issues of making a child vampire. In the UK version, Mitchell simply makes the kid into a vampire, which I can't imagine why there wouldn't be repercussions for doing such a thing. Having Rebecca make it another lure to drag Aiden back into the vampire group gives the storyline much more interest and tension, especially when Aiden has to make a choice of how to solve this problem. Overall, though, there aren't too many major variations on the major plots of the first season - I do like that the US is starting to make it's own plot and choosing the development of the characters with greater changes, but the backbone structure of the UK is still evident. Hopefully they will eventually break away and make the show their own.
But one can definitely say that the tone between the two shows is what sets them apart. The UK version is much more comedic; the US version is much darker, more gritty. The best example I can think of for the UK version being more of a comedic flavor comes from the second season, where Annie gets a job in a pub. For some reason, all of a sudden she's visible and can speak and interact with everyone around her. In the US version, the characters are just constantly dumped on (which I guess might say that Americans are more pessimistic than Brits?) with constant issues where there is little to no relief in sight. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, but I love that. I don't want to see a ghost getting a job in a pub, or a werewolf developing tourettes because he's caging his inner beast. These just seem like the most ridiculous ways to take people who have supernatural conditions and try to fit them into normal, ordinary human life. But I guess that really just goes to show the difference in mind sets between people who are living in a Puritan-founded country versus a European nation who's been around the block a few times! Either way, both are interesting shows depending on what you're looking for. I just know that I'll be tuning in each week for the US version, so I can see people having their skin flayed off while conscious, ripping ex-boyfriends apart with their teeth, and possessing people in order to use them for one night stands.