Sometimes, you come across a show that makes you ask yourself “Hey, why the heck didn’t I see or hear about this one sooner?” In this instance, the title is the British sci-fi/comedy/drama series Misfits, and the very fact that most British shows take the slow boat to America might explain my complete obliviousness to the entire existence of it — not to mention I don’t have cable or subscribe to any of those video-on-demand websites. But I digress: the discovery of Misfits has proved a very worthwhile one indeed — an opinion that I am most definitely not alone in sharing.
At first, I feared the Brits had decided to remake the short-lived ’80s American sci-fi sitcom Misfits of Science. In a way, I suppose there is some connection, though not too terribly much. In both instances, we find the (mis-)adventures of a group of young folks — who have never had much luck with the law and their peers — endowed with superpowers. Unlike the old NBC show, though, the not all of the characters in E4 series have not been bequeathed the greatest of super powers.
Misfits: Season One begins with several juvenile delinquents performing their community service; punishments awarded to them for various acts and actions against society. A bizarre electrical storm strikes, giving them — as well as many other individuals — their own special powers which they are at first unable to process. Kelly (Lauren Socha) discovers she has the power of telepathy, though no one really believes her. Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) finds he is able to rewind time when something really catastrophic happens — though, again, it’s a somewhat hard-to-fathom ability for the others.
Likewise for creeper Simon (Iwan Rheon), who is now able to turn himself invisible — when no one else is around. Promiscuous girl Alisha has the worst of the lot, it seems: anyone who touches her skin goes into an uncontrollable sexual rage. The last of the lot, Nathan (Robert Sheehan), seems to have been passed over altogether — though it turns out his gift is one most people wouldn’t assume they had even if they did.
Just as the kids received their new abilities, their probation officer, Tony (Danny Sapani) does as well — and promptly turns into a homicidal maniac determined to kill those darned kids once and for all. This leads to Tony’s death at the hands of the confused, scared juveniles — an act of self defense that would not have been possible where it not for Curtis’ newfound gift, and which results in the dead man receiving a shallow grave courtesy his bad brood. But it also sets in motion the basic subplot of this show’s freshman series, as Tony’s replacement — who just happens to be his (ex-)fiancée, Sally (Alex Reid) — tries to figure out what happened to her beloved.
Meanwhile, the gang of unlikely heroes deal with such trials as Nathan’s homelessness (and his mother’s boyfriend, who behaves like a Jack Russell Terrier thanks to the storm), Curtis’ attempts to turn back the clock in order to save both he and his former girlfriend from ever winding up in trouble to begin with, an infant with advanced mental powers, and a cult called Virtue who try to convert the gang with her own super-suggestive abilities, and a fellow who calls himself Superhoodie (Lord love a duck).
BBC Home Video brings us the first season of this surprise hit to DVD in a two-disc set that presents all six episodes in their full, uncut glory. The quality of this set isn’t that hot, I should point out: with the series presenting a lot of fuzzy lines and trails from anyone who tends to move even ever-so-slightly fast in motion. A Dolby Digital 2.0 English soundtrack is also a bit of a disappointment, as many of us have become accustomed to getting a DD 5.1 mix these days (though the UK Blu-ray set also boasts two-channel audio as well). Special features include several interviews, a handful of making-of tidbits, and the full versions of four films the character of Simon records on his mobile phone.
Apart from the questionable quality, Misfits: Season One is a joy to watch, and I’m anxious to see the subsequent series (seasons) hit video soon — although I don’t quite understand why there are Blu-rays in the UK, but just plain ol’ DVD here.
Maybe they booked passage on a different slow boat to America.