The Cliffs Notes version of this TV series from the UK that I was given for it before watching it was “Heroes (the now cancelled NBC series) before it turned to crap, but with five young hooligans for the leads and with a decidedly British flavor” and you know, that’s not a bad way to describe it. This TV show is also played far more for laughs than its American counterpart and because it’s from the BBC, and they don’t faint or wet their knickers over the occasional dirty word or even nudity over there, it has a far more adult feel to it. Not to mention it’s a tad bit more realistic as well … or as realistic as you can be in a show about superpowers. So if you want a super(hero?) show that’s defiantly not for kids, then rejoice, for Misfits has finally made the jump across the pond to North America. But I’m guessing you’re gonna want to know more about this British import before you plunk down your hard earned money for it. Lucky for you that reviewing groovy movies and TV shows is my secret superpower. Yeah, I couldn’t get flying, super strength, or being able to become invisible, no, I got reviewing powers. Yay for me. Oh well, let’s get to it.
Despite its sci-fi roots, Misfits is grounded in reality unlike almost all other super powered pieces of fiction. It begins with a collection of young criminals sentenced to community service to pay off their minor crimes. The five, well misfits, aren’t friends, aren’t would-be heroes, and they’re full of their own problems, selfish desires, and antisocial behaviors. Into their self-absorbed world the mother of all weird storms rolls in, and literally out of the blue a bolt of lightning hits the youngsters, granting each a special power that reflects some part of their personality. The nerdy guy everyone ignores can turn invisible. The former star athlete who made one stupid mistake that ruined his life gets the ability to turn back time, but only when he feels guilt or regret. The cute little sexpot gets the non-PG-rated power to turn any man she touches into a slavering, horny, sex fiend. Wait, that’s a superpower? That just seems like any club on the weekend to me, but whatever. That’s the most basic premise of the show, but there’s more to it than that.
That strange storm also rolled through the city and gave a bunch of other folks weird powers too. So naturally a good portion of the first season is rather typical of sci-fi shows with the good old monster of the week, or in this case superpower of the week themed episodes. The five misfits really do seem to run into other super-charged people at an alarmingly frequent rate. Thankfully not all the folks hit by the storm become the typical villains for our heroes to defeat to save the day. In fact, the five young criminals are nowhere near heroic and show no desire to put on masks and capes and save the day. Nope, they’re just regular people trying to make it in the world, and the new powers they got often seem to be more of a nuisance than any sort of gift.
In typical British TV fashion, the first season of Misfits is very short in comparison to TV shows made in the US. At just six episodes, all that gets done in season one is introducing the main characters and the very basics of the world they live in, such as a whole bunch of people now having superpowers. However, that is not me criticizing the show, as that means each character has lots of time devoted to him or her and so they are very well written and fleshed out. The fact that the actors they got to play the parts are extremely talented is one hell of a nice bonus. The characters here always seem believable, even when they’re doing unbelievable things. Also the story isn’t all gumdrops and rainbows like many American television shows are. Some of the characters are not afraid to act like complete asses, or in the case of one person; creepy and borderline serial killerish. None of the five really goes into antihero territory like Tony Soprano or Walter White from Breaking Bad, but they do flirt with that gray area a lot. Lastly, the six episode season does give you enough of the show to get you hooked on the characters and fun (and often funny) writing without overstaying its welcome. It also leaves you desperately wanting more, especially with a great cliffhanger ending.
The new two DVD set of season one includes a nice selection of special features. There are a bunch of interviews with all five members of the cast, two of the directors, and two of the producers. Additionally, there are four very short examples of the creepy, sort of stalkerish movies that Simon, the painfully shy and sometimes invisible boy, keeps making. Last but not least, there are three short featurettes, one on how they made the storm that gave the misfits their power, one that takes place on a roof at the season’s finale, and another about casting the five young actors as the leads.
Misfits is a heck of a show. It’s funny, well-acted, engaging, and even manages to pull a few surprises from time to time. If a realistic look on what could happen if flawed, everyday people suddenly received superpowers, instead of the bastions of morality and goodness that usually get them in comic books, sounds interesting to you, then you will want to check out this UK import. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to watch the next season once it finally makes it way to this side of the Atlantic.