A bunch of young wrong’uns with attitude being plastered all over the ad breaks of the channel that brought us such young wrong’uns with attitude adventures as Skins does not sound like something that holds great appeal. But throw in hints of a supernatural twist and interests are suddenly peaked. The first episode of Misfits aired on E4 last week, but did it confirm my initial scepticisms or did it manage to triumph?
When you think of British Sci-fi you’ll most likely think of the likes of Doctor Who or Primeval. You may then cringe as it’s the kind of watered down rubbish that is more concerned with attracting the family audience than creating gripping shows. There is no doubting that Doctor Who has it’s fans and I’m sure it has it’s moments (granted the latest episode Waters of Mars had a couple of these moments) but it mostly appears to very much cater to the younger audience, playing it very safe and therefore creating little tension or excitement in the process. Meanwhile there’s no defending the likes of Primeval and Demons, trying and failing miserably to imitate American shows.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that salvation does not lay within these financially backed primetime slots but rather with the rare hidden gems that make up for their lack of budget with nothing but heart… and great writing. I am mostly talking about Being Human, a brilliant BBC3 series about three flatmates; a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost. It is mainly drama, with snippets of comedy, and I can’t remember the last time a British show had me anticipating the next episode so much. With it not being shown on one of the big channels at a primetime slot it struggled to gain an audience. But thanks to word of mouth and BBC iplayer it has since gained a cult following and has been commissioned for a second series. So happy ending. It proved that more adult themed British sci-fi can find an audience and may have paved the way for similar projects. Enter Misfits.
Misfits, billed very much as Skins meets Heroes, can’t really complain about having no marketing. It seems to have taken up every E4 ad break for the last couple of weeks to the point where people were either sick of the sight of them already or they decided they needed to see what all this was about then. Well, it’s about a group of strangers who get struck by lightning during a strange flash storm and obtain superpowers… the twist being they are young offenders doing community service. Going into it I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much, whilst I admit I do often find Skins compelling I also often find it tedious, so I expected something similar here but less original. As it turned out, I friggin loved it! It worked perfectly as a first episode, introducing us to the characters, then the event that shapes the whole show and then taking the “monster of the week” form I expect each episode to take.
What if there’s loads more people like us all over town?
No, that kind of thing only happens in America
The characters have potential. There’s Kelly who looks to be very much your typical chav but somehow still manages to be quite likable. She develops the ability to hear people’s thoughts. Oh, and also dog’s thoughts which led to probably the episodes weakest point and could definitely have done without. Too cheap and obvious.
Then there’s Simon, a quiet, good hearted loner who can turn invisible. He’s definitely one for the fans to root for, already depicted as the loser of the group but with a genuine desire to make friends, as shown in the quite sad and yet strangely hilarious shot at the end where he is seemingly hanging out with friends at a bar, only for us to find out they can’t see him.
Curtis’ dreams of being an athlete were dashed when he was caught with cocaine and banned. He spends his time rewatching past glories on video, thinking about his biggest regret and what might have been. Curtis has now obtained the power to change time when he regrets something, leaving us to anticipate the time where he learns how to control his power and attempts to change events, which surely will have serious repercussions.
Alisha is the typical party girl who spent the episode adjusting her boobs and sucking off a bottle. She definitely appeared to be the most one-dimensional of the group but I think that was kind of the point as now that when people touch her they become so overcome with lust that they try and force themselves on her. She’s going to have to do the old changing her ways and be less reliant on the physical act of lurve. Her character is basically a different take on Rogue from X-Men.
And finally there’s Nathan. The smart arse, sarcastic Irish bloke who will no doubt be a nightmare to meet but makes some damn entertaining viewing. He is constantly winding people up and shows no concern to others feelings, so when he is thrown out by his fed up mother and no one will take him you feel sorry for him, but completely understand why. He is basically a knob, but a likeable one who will no doubt go through some transitions with his new colleagues. Now, we don’t know what this guys power is yet, and is one of the things I’m looking forward to finding out, whilst also thinking it will be good if we didn’t find out for a while as his character will most definitely be pissed off at being the only one without a power. The opening credits hints at what it could be (with each character being accompanied by a shadow representing their power) with him being followed by a shadow of a wolf. Werewolf? Could be interesting. In the preview for the next episode there is mention of a werewolf as he suspects his mams boyfriend of being one. Or maybe he’s a shapeshifter?
As it stands, none of the main characters have abilities that will be all that useful in a fighting scenario, which makes me think this is going to be less action based as I would like it to be, but either way I am very impressed and am looking forward to seeing how it goes on. This definitely looks to rank up there with the likes of Being Human rather than the likes of Primeval. It has the compelling dialogue and interaction that makes Skins so popular, but given a more fun subject matter. It’s very British in that rather than choosing to ignore the pop culture in which it is based, it makes frequent references to it and often light heartedly makes fun of the conventions in which it is also following. But I think it’s success could come down to whether it develops an ongoing story that will lead up to the finale, like in the first series of Heroes, and not being stand alone episodes that don’t seem to be leading anywhere or help the series move along, like Skins.