This week’s Superhero Saturday takes a brief look at the Channel 4 series, ‘Misfits’, which is due to return later for a fourth series this year, presumably to coincide with Halloween.
Premiering waaaaaay back in 2009 (only three years ago, but I’ll be honest, it feels like forever), Misfits featured five youngsters doing community service and dealing with the fallout from a thunderstorm which leaves them and many other people in London with special abilities. Some are traditional superhero fare – telepathy (Kelly), invisibility (Simon), manipulating time (Curtis); while others are more, er, shall we say unorthodox, like Alisha’s original power to make any man that touches her become aggressively sexual towards her.
The premise allowed for some great moments in the show, and the series was nominated for (and won) many awards. I feel like the show became much darker as it has gone on, although there was always a violent and gritty undertone to the whole thing. The standout character from the first series was undoubtedly Nathan, who initially appears to have remained unaffected by the storm, but then discovers…well, see for yourself:
There were plenty of great comedy moments from Nathan, mostly at the expense of the quiet, dark horse Simon, who later takes on a much more important role in the group than his initial position as the group’s outsider. In fact, until more of his own past becomes clear to us, we tend to see Simon through Nathan’s eyes…
In the second series, the story lines included lots of time-travel plot twists and future/present versions of characters, which always gets me confused; and later, there is the opportunity for the gang to buy and sell their powers through a drug dealer who has the ability to transfer people’s powers. I think this was a great move – it gave the writers a chance to challenge themselves with this new development as well as keep the format fresh. Throughout the second series Simon’s character was given more depth, which was handy because the show’s golden boy, Nathan, left at the end of the series following a Christmas special where he starts a relationship with a pregnant girl and ends up relocating to Las Vegas with her, using his new superpower to win money at the casinos.
Kelly, Curtis, Alisha and Simon are joined by a new character in series 3, a cheeky-chappy type named Rudy – to be honest, he initially seems like not much of a departure from Nathan, but his character actually injects some new life into the show and I think anything Joe Gilgun says is genius… even those annoying 4oD adverts. His power is having a double, which means at times there are two ‘Rudies’ for the price of one, and his own criminal nature leads him to involve the rest of the gang in a car theft, sending them all back to community service – it’s not quite time for them to hang up those delightful orange jumpsuits just yet.
I find it a bit lazy when shows or films or books turn to the classic “oh my god, they’re Nazis” as a plot device, which was recently done in Grimm and Psychoville. I mean, I get it; the Nazis were unfathomably evil, but people do bad things for other reasons too. So when Misfits did a Nazi episode, I was skeptical, but it actually turned out okay – an elderly Jewish man has Curtis’s old power to turn back time, and uses it to go back and kill Hitler. However, Hitler almost kills him, and as he returns to the present his mobile phone falls on the floor, and he returns to a future where the Nazis won the war with their improved technology (sparked off by the his own mobile phone). The Nazis are using Seth to find people who have powers, then giving those abilities to Nazi commanders.
Likewise, I have no interest in the weird obsession that people see to have with zombies – I don’t get it at all. But when the series did an episode with zombies, where Curtis has his gender-switching (don’t ask) power replaced with the power to resurrect dead bodies with dire consequences, it did it with sensitivity as well as hilarity and brutality – three things this show seems to have an abundance of.
I’m looking forward to the next series; new characters means new powers, and if the previous episodes are anything to go by, the writers are not short on ideas.