Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Misfits: Episode One

Simon: 'What if we're meant to be, like, Superheroes?'

Misfits is most often described as an English Heroes, and it's a comparison not entirely undeserved. Its main characters do have superpowers, but Misfits is undeniably grittier than its American cousin. It has the same inner city grimness that made Skins such compelling viewing back in 2007, but what really sets it apart is its black humour. It's an acquired taste, certainly—the language is sometimes coarse, with sexual chit chat bordering on the excruciating—but it's this meld of seemingly disparate ingredients which makes it unique. There's nothing else quite like it.

The misfits are a bunch of five, twenty-something offenders living in the fictional town of Wertham, who develop supernatural abilities during a freak storm. You really couldn't wish for a more disparate group of fuck-ups; they're disastrously unalike. Nathan is a total gob-shite, with personality problems bordering on the sociopathic, yet I defy anyone not to love him. Robert Sheehan was born to play this role. It's impossible to stay mad at Nathan for long, he's just too adorable, and tonight's episode gave us an insight into his dysfunctional family background. Nathan is currently homeless after an argument with his Mum over boyfriend, Jeremy, and (unbeknownst to the others) is sleeping rough at the community centre.

Despite Nathan's abrasive personality, there's an innocence and openness about him I like. I wouldn't trust him—I'm not even sure I believe his stolen Pick n' Mix story—but at least you know what you're getting with Nathan. He's got balls (both actual and metaphorical) and could talk his way out of (or into) just about any situation. His made up story about Tony and Gary's illicit homosexual affair didn't even sound plausible—absolutely nobody bought it—but that didn't deter him in the least. He just kept on rolling with the bullshit. At this juncture, we don't know what Nathan's superpower is, or whether he even has one.

Curtis is the athlete of the group, banned from competition because of a narcotics conviction. His superpower is the ability to turn back time. How far, and how easily, is still unclear, but if it wasn't for Curtis, we'd have lost Kelly tonight; mutated Tony would have killed her had Curtis not hit the rewind button. Tony's superpower was an intensified hatred of the misfits. (Understandable, really.) I'm guessing Sally will become a thorn in the misfits' side now that Tony's gone AWOL. A missing colleague isn't the kind of thing you just forget. Curtis longs to be a respected athlete again, which raises the question: will he ever use his powers to change his own past?

Simon is the misfit's arsonist and part-time invisible man. Ironically, even when visible he's pretty much unnoticeable. He's shy, unmemorable, and is often the butt of Nathan's jokes. Even when people aren't poking fun at him they're laughing at him. Remember that episode of Buffy where Marcie turned invisible because of everyone ignoring her? Same thing, except Simon can turn his invisibility on and off; not quite at will, but he's getting there.

Alisha is the pretty, popular one, and is doing community service for drunk driving. She's not adverse to showing off her body, has an overly inflated ego, and thinks she's God's gift to men. Alisha is as attracted to Curtis as he is to her, so I think we can guess where they're going with this particular pairing. Her superpower makes men sexually aggressively towards her, which, considering her sexual proclivities, might not be entirely unwelcome. Unfortunately, it's indiscriminate, and happens to anyone who touches her. Poor Simon got a taste of it tonight. Those were some pretty specific fantasies he came out with.

Kelly is the final member of the precariat. She sports a broad Derbyshire accent, and is as chavvy as they come. At times she appears overly sensitive to what people think of her—which makes her superpower of being able to hear people's thoughts a real downer. Kelly gets to hear what people really think, and it's seldom complimentary. Currently, she the only one who knows about Nathan's homelessness. (After accidentally hearing his thoughts.) Kelly's doing community service because of getting into a fight with a girl outside Argos. She's also the owner of seriously perverted dog, Keith. Who would have thought that dogs would be so disgusting? Actually, Keith talking filth made absolutely no sense—even if dogs could talk, I very much doubt they'd think like humans.

All in all, this was a decent opening salvo. It had the usual handicap of having to introduce all the show's main protagonists in just one session (which always seems to slow things down or weaken the plot), but it was a tantalising taste of things to come.

Other Thoughts:

—It's odd that those who touch Alisha don't seem to remember their behaviour afterwards.

—Alisha's superpower is absolutely useless. Worst power ever!

—I loved Nathan's no-handed piss. Stylish!

—I'm not sure how Nathan has the cheek to call Kelly on her accent. He has a pretty strong Port Laoise accent himself.

—I couldn't help but feel someone was watching them as they buried Tony the probation worker.

—Nathan's mouth when Alisha was sucking that bottle was hilarious. He subconsciously mimicked her every move.

—That was some of the worst bench painting I've ever seen. What were they using for paint: flour and water?

—Nathan's comment about people developing superpowers on a broader scale only happening in America, was a nice tip of the hat to Heroes and Smallville.

Quotes:

Tony: 'There are people out there that think you're scum. You have an opportunity to show them they're wrong.'
Nathan: 'Yeah, but what if they're right?'

Nathan: 'If anyone asks what happened yesterday we say nothing, right? It's just a completely normal day.'

Kelly: 'This girl called me a slag so I just got into a fight.'
Nathan: 'Was this on the Jeremy Kyle Show?'
Kelly: 'No, it was at Argos.'

Kelly: 'I'm not a Chav.'

Alisha: 'We'll show them the dead guy in the locker. They'll do some CSI shit and work it all out.'

Nathan: 'I'm pretty sure this breaches the terms of my ASBO.'

Nathan: 'You lot, superheroes? No offence, but in what kind of fucked-up world would that be allowed to happen?'

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