Misfits is just about the perfect show for ABC2.
It’s a smart, left-of-centre, low budget UK drama shot in a kind of guerilla filmmaking style. It’s the sort of weird molotov cocktail you might come up with if you fused The Breakfast Club with Dead Set.
There are six outcast youths in the opening scenes of Misfits, staring down the barrel of community service. The idea of painting park benches and removing graffiti fills none of them with enthusiasm. Their probation officer Tony lords over them like a drill sergeant. It’s a bleak British day for these six, whose orange overalls stand out like a sore thumb amid the dreary grey.
Alpha-male Nathan (Robert Sheehan) is the most boisterous of the group, who interrogates his sullen mates over their crimes and misdemeanours. They are mostly guilty of petty crimes, but his upfront personality doesn’t endear him to them. There’s a good deal of aggression and self-esteem issues bubbling underneath the skins of this lot. Left to their own devices they don’t achieve much in the way of group bonding.
One of the six, Gary (Josef Altin) is separated from the group when he steps into the toilet of a community centre. Without warning a strange-looking storm cloud hovers over the remaining five. Suddenly it begins to pummel them with giant hailstones. The five, with their probation officer, run for cover but are struck by lightning, knocking them to the ground.
From this point forward their lives are changed, yet they have no idea just how.
In subsequent scenes it become clear that they have been forever altered.
‘Chav’ Kelly (Lauren Socha) begins to hear people’s thoughts, but can’t quite make sense of this very odd gift. Simon (Iwan Rheon) finds himself momentarily invisible to his friends. Is he imagining it?
Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) and Alisha (Antonia Thomas) will also discover they have new and unusual skills.
The future for Tony and Gary is more treacherous.
Having started as outcasts and dysfunctional friends, now the group must draw strength and sense from one another. But they handle their skills with about as much finesse as The Greatest American Hero, or possibly the clumsy Hiro Nakamura in Heroes. Why they have been bestowed with new powers, and whether they can achieve anything of any merit with it, will no doubt be part of the charm and askew comedy of this series. Being a reluctant superhero is almost as alarming as adolescence. These five still have to deal with their own peer-group pressure, insecurities and attractions.
Misfits is interestingly shot with a renegade, short-film feel to it. The casting is terrific, and as a British series, it is devoid of the gloss that could have seen it dolled up had it been an American creation. Instead its cynical outlook sits nicely in the surreal sci-fi world of Being Human, Torchwood and 28 Days Later.
Smart, irreverent fun.
Misfits airs 9:30pm Monday on ABC2.