A new E4 series called Misfits you say? About a group of young delinquents doing community service?
We’ve not been this put off a new TV series since the Bad Girls pilot. In fact, the likelihood of a good series coming from E4 is akin to that of finding a hen’s tooth, or Tess Daly‘s soul.
Imagine the disquiet and shock which consumed us when we saw the first episode of this teen-insert genre here and discovered it’s actually quite good. Maybe Tess Daly has a soul after all.*
To get the comparison cliché out of the way, Misfits can be best described as Dead Set meets Heroes meets Shameless. There’s certainly a comic book feel to it à la Heroes, despite writer Howard Overman maintaining ignorance of the illustration laden literature.
In this television programme, a number of actors pretend to possess a different personality to their own, in a number of staged situations and circumstances. Their words are also not their own, they are given to them beforehand by the aforementioned writer, Howard Overman. In the opening episode this group of young, mostly unknown actors pretend to perform manual tasks in order to fulfil the community service aspect of their respective characters’ sentencing. An artificially created storm interrupts them, and through a combination of wind, rain, and CG effects, they are struck by lightning. None of them are harmed – on the contrary, they awake with some super powers. They are bestowed with the ability to hear thoughts, turn back time, become invisible, and to instil in people an intense sexual desire.
This wee acting conglomerate is lead by Robert Sheehan, a young Irishman best known for his role as BJ in the excellent Red Riding series. Robert (or Nathan, as he purports to be in this) provides plentiful comic relief in the Irish craic style popularised by Les Dennis‘ impression of Graham Norton in Extras.
In series such as this or Heroes, realism and grittiness are highly sought-after commodities. Such things are mostly unobtainable in a fantasy scenario such as this, so a substantial amount of credit is due to this relatively inexperienced writer. Howard has also successfully captured the often foul dialogue of teenagers while retaining enough clarity in order for it to be understood by a wider audience.
An impressive social media campaign will be running alongside the series to both accompany and expand on the story arc via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube etc. To make this worthwhile to viewers, those who pay close attention will be rewarded with a character who won’t be revealed on TV till episode six, amongst other things.
All in all, this looks set to be one of those popular ones.
Misfits starts on E4 on Thurs Nov 12 at 10pm