Winner of the Best Drama Series award at the 2010 BAFTA Television awards, Misfits is a bold comedy drama based on a script by Howard Overman (Hustle, Merlin and Spooks: Code 9), that subverts the superhero genre with a knowing take on how hard it is to be a hero in the modern, cynical world.
When five teenage outsiders on community service get struck by a flash storm they end up with special powers. Hard-as-nails Kelly can suddenly hear people's thoughts, shamed sporting hero Curtis discovers he has the ability to turn back time, and party-girl Alisha can send people into a sexual frenzy when they touch her skin. Even painfully shy Simon can make himself invisible, which makes it hard to swallow for smart-alec Nathan, who seems to have been unaffected... or has he? Unlike their more conventional counterparts, our misfits don't swap their ankle tags and mobile phones for capes and tights. Instead, they discover just how tough life can be when you're stuck with a super power you didn't want.
This Limited Edition set includes all 12 episodes from the first two series, the 2010 Christmas Special and five beautifully illustrated collector prints by young artists.
When I was a younger lass, one of my favourite shows on TV was Misfits of Science. It was about a group of teenagers living with strange powers and getting their heads around those powers, controlling them and then using them for good. This is not that show! Around the same time that America started to pump out Super Hero narratives (Heroes, No Ordinary Family), out came Misfits. A twist on the super hero genre, with a group of anti-heroes whose lives are basically crap.
There is a lot to love about this show. Its fresh and gritty like many English shows (Skins springs to mind). It deals with super powers like they are an inconvenience rather than a call to be something more. You really get a sense that the writers thought long and hard about how a person's life would be affected (at least in the first season).
And the powers are basically pretty pants. You could almost see them as a curse or a punishment, or a reflection of what is "deserved". Alisha has a history of using sex to get what she needs, suddenly she causes hyper desire in anyone who touches her. Simon is overly shy, suddenly capable of becoming invisible as well. Though feeling as if he already was invisible. They all need a shrink!
The true draw of this show are the characters and the script. The interactions between the characters are really raw, crude, and realistic. Its not a show for the faint-hearted. The characters swear like sailors. And my favourite character, Nathan is the crudest of all. He is basically just a horn-dog, trying to pork any girl that moves. But he has the best lines. I'm sure he is a pleasure to act, a real freeing sort of role.
Season One was a revelation in TV, and really caught our imagination. However, Season Two was lack lustre. Nathan's character got a few new tricks and there is some fun to be had. But there was a lack of character growth for most of the cast. Plus a few relational things that didn't go anywhere which just made the romantic in me a bit sad. So to sum up - Season One to mid-Season Two = aces, later part of Season Two = meh.
The superhero genre is obviously nothing new, yet very few films or TV shows have treated the genre in quite the same way as Misfits. The show tells the story of five youths, all paying off their various debts to society doing community service. Following a freak storm, Simon, Curtis, Nathan, Kelly and Alisha all find themselves with powers which are largely beyond their control, yet where a traditional story of this type would often lead to crime-solving exploits, Misfits instead chooses to stick with the drama of troubled youth, leaving the powers and the resulting problems which they cause as a backdrop for the character relationships. The show is certainly dark and dramatic, but it's greatest strength comes from its sense of humour, particularly from the character of Nathan (Robert Sheehan), one of the funniest, best-written characters on television in recent memory.
Like many TV British shows, each season is only six episodes long. Season one deals mostly with the introduction of the characters, with each episode focusing on one and providing some backstory, while also furthering the larger plot. It's a little repetitive, but the strength of the characters, particularly Nathan, make for compelling viewing. The way these kids interact and work through their various adolescent dramas feels very real, and the show's beautiful, washed out look and cinematic style make it something quite unique.
Season two is more of the same, which is good and bad. Alongside a larger backdrop concerning a shadowy hooded figure, each episode presents a problem to be solved, a structure that begins to feel a little tired by this point. Thankfully, the small moments between the wider narrative are as strong as ever. Wrapping up the set is a Christmas special episode, probably the strongest of season two.
Misfits is far from perfect, and feels like it either needs to embrace the serialised narrative structure that hovers in the background, or abandon it all together and stick to the week by week story format. But it's worth a look for the sharp banter between the stars and offers an original take on the superhero genre. Side note: season three has recently started in the UK, unfortunately without Robert Sheehan as Nathan, so whether the show can survive without it's strongest element remains to be seen.
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