A bizarre electrical storm grants several citizens of London superhuman abilities. Five of these people are juvenile delinquents working off their community service. Weirdness ensues.
Misfits ticked me off. I can ignore the unlikable characters and dialogue that is too often self-consciously cute and clever, but Iím not willing to forgive the show for leaving me hanging. This first season (which was broadcast in England roughly three years ago) takes its sweet time getting going, and it often seems like it has no interest whatsoever in wrapping up storylines, but it gets damned interesting and entertaining as it hits its fourth episode, which is kind of a pain when the whole season runs only six episodes. I donít mind cliffhangers, but the final episode of this season leaves so much up in the air that I felt a little shafted. The fact that I felt shafted says something about the quality of the show, I suppose, so I guess maybe Iím praising it with faint damnation.
I imagine some people will dismiss Misfits as ďAnti-Heroes,Ē but itís not. Creator Howard Overman (who also wrote all six episodes) didnít simply borrow the premise of that now-defunct show and make all of the characters unlikable douches. The core of the basic idea behind the two shows may be similar, but people gaining powers via some sort of meteorological/astronomical event is a hoary clichť in science fiction and comic books, at this point little more than an easy way of getting the origin out of the way. Thatís what Overman does here; thereís a storm, everybody gets zapped, and then the show gets on with what it wants to do.
Hereís the way things shake down for the main characters: Kelly (Lauren Socha) becomes a telepath. Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) can bend time, changing events if he so chooses. Alisha (Antonia Thomas) causes immediate, uncontrollable sexual lust in any male she touches. Simon (Iwan Rheon) can become invisible. Nathan (Robert Sheehan) appears to be unchanged. It doesnít take them long to realize something strange has happened, as their probation officer, who was also affected by the storm, goes nuts and tried to kill them. They accidentally kill him, then hide his body. Much of the remaining time is spent trying to cover their tracks, but the kids also find time to have sex, go clubbing, swap insults, and steal from vending machines.
Anyone expecting a lot of action will be disappointed. These kids spend a lot more time talking and goofing off than they do using their powers to battle any sort of threat that comes along. Thatís not a problem, though. First of all, thereís no way the budget would have made big action possible, and this is a case where little action is preferable to poor action. Second (and this is something of a leap on my part), Iím thinking Overman is building to something relatively big. I donít know if he is, but I hope he is, and I think some sort of seemingly insurmountable crisis or threat is one convention of the genre Overman will eventually have to employ.
The five leads are very well cast (Sochaís casting even turned out to be somewhat prescient). A lot of mileage here comes from the lead performances, which help turn what could have been a collection of archetypal stereotypes into something more. And the charactersí personalities are deepened as the show progresses. The aforementioned fourth episode, in which Curtisís past is explored and previously unknown connections between the characters are revealed, is an excellent example of how this sort of show should be done; the plot is twisty, and its twists are fueled by the manner in which Curtis employs his powers, but at the same time it builds and expands the characters. The showís gimmick doesnít get in the way of the characters, but at the same time the show doesnít forget itís about people who acquire strange powers after being caught out in the rain. Silly as it may be at times, it works.
The show is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio; the image has been enhanced for anamorphic displays, and the six episodes are housed on two discs. Misfits is shot digitally and it shows. Both rapid motion in action scenes and quick camera moves often look flat, harsh, and blurry. Most of the color palette is dull and tinged with grays, but the ubiquitous orange jumpsuits worn by main characters provide some nice contrast.
The only audio option is a Dolby Stereo track. Some moments beg for a surround mix (even a 2.0 surround mix would have been welcome), but overall the audio is perfectly fine. Thereís some decent separation in the channels, and there are moments when the low end pounds. Dialogue is always clear, which is somewhat surprising considering how brick-thick some of the accents are. English SDH subtitles are available.
Making of Misfits (32 minutes) is a series of three behind-the-scenes pieces. The first two look at the shooting of a couple of stunt-heavy sequences, while the third covers the casting of the showís leads.
Interviews (17 minutes) offer short (too short, really) chats with the five leads, directors Tom Green and Tom Harper, executive producer Petra Fried, and production designer Tom Bowyer.
Simonís Films (10 minutes) is a four-part collection of the cell-phone videos Rheonís character is always shooting.
Misfits is worth a look, but Iím still ticked. Iím looking forward to the second season, but I sure hope Overman and his collaborators start tying things up.