In the wake of Doctor Who, British television has seen a heartening trend back towards the fantastic. Something, that results in shows that are largely considered misfires, such as Paradox, Day Of The Triffids and Demons, but on the flip side of the coin, we get things like Misfits, the No Heroics-meets-Skins ‘superhero’ comedy-drama that aired on E4 at the end of 2009.
For those that haven’t seen it, Misfits is about a group of five young offenders, each of whom receive supernatural powers during a strange electrical storm which occurs while they are performing community service. What follows is a uniquely British take on superheroes, with tight scripting, engaging stories and an ever-expanding universe of characters.
After numerous failed attempts at creating a ‘British Buffy‘ (Hello, Hex!), creator Howard Overman might finally have come up with a worthy competitor.
Indeed, despite my initial expectations that the powers would largely serve as a Buffy-style metaphor for youth, the show is generally quite subtle about doing this, using the powers to illuminate character traits, rather than as straight analogues. There are times when their position as a storytelling device is more prominent than others, for example, when examining Alisha and Curtis’ relationship, but generally, the powers are used as commentary on the individual characters rather than teens in general.
Although aimed at a teen audience, the script is accessible to viewers of any age, and particularly adept in making its cast sympathetic and well-rounded, rather than the two-dimensional gaggle of ‘ASBO teens’ that their one-time supervisor, Tony, saw them as.
It should be said that much of the character depth is also due to the fantastic talents involved. There’s simply not a duff member in the cast of Misfits, and each carries their own story with considerable ability.
If I had to choose a stand-out member of the cast, it’d be Robert Sheehan as Nathan Young, who is given the unique position of being the cast member ‘without’ powers, until a brilliantly-played final-episode reveal shows us what they truly are.
The DVD contains all six episodes of the first series, at a standard £19.99 RRP, although it should go without saying that nowhere is likely to actually charge that much. If you buy from Amazon, it’s £11.99, which is a much more reasonable charge of £2 per episode.
If there’s anything worth complaining about it’s that it’s simply not enough!
Series 2 begins filming in May, and should hit screens before the end of 2010. If you haven’t already seen Misfits, now’s the time to catch up! It may look like little more than a Heroes/Skins mash-up, but the final product transcends both, and should engage the audiences of both.
If all British TV was this entertaining, maybe we’d be able to stop lavishing so much attention on US imports!
The extras on the disc could be slightly better. When a series is this entertaining, it’s always fun to drink in the additional material, but there’s not really enough here to truly satisfy your thirst. Personally, I wanted commentaries and deleted scenes, and perhaps some of the ‘meta-content’ that was created for social networking sites during the series’ original run (for example, the character’s twitter feeds).
Instead, though, we get an (admittedly lengthy) hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes material, which includes interviews with the cast and crew, a ‘making of’ piece and four of ‘Simon’s Films’ which are videos taken from ‘Simon’s’ phone of the other cast members. The quality isn’t especially bad, but despite my enthusiasm for the main series, I found it hard to sit through all of the additional material on the disc.
However, there’s little reason to be put off by the extras when the main feature is so good, and let’s face it, no-one watches the extras more than once anyway.
If you’re buying the DVD simply to get a bit more Misfits while you wait for the second season, you might be disappointed, but those coming to the series new will find themselves more than adequately entertained.
Misfits is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.