In November, 2009, UK TV channel E4 premiered the first episode of the ratings and critical darling, MISFITS; the story of 5 ASBO kids (young offenders) forced to work in a community service program, where they attain super powers after a strange electrical storm.
Now, we’re two seasons (plus a Christmas special) in, and HULU has begun airing the show from the beginning. Last week they premiered the first two episodes, with “new” episodes airing every Monday until they run through all 13 installments.
A third season is set to air on E4 this fall.
Nick Hanover: Funnily enough, I did not know that was her until I read the AV Club’s reviews of these first two episodes
Paul Brian McCoy: I had no idea she was Nathan’s mom! Until rewatching, that is.
Felicity: I saw her and flipped out. That’s why I like rewatching older shows. You recognize actors you didn’t the first watch through.
Paul: And Dead Gary is in the Night’s Watch with Snow.
Felicity: Yes! I knew I recognized him. I wasn’t placing him though.
Nick: Hopefully he survives a little longer on Game of Thrones. Actually, I guess technically he already has
Felicity: Ha, yes. I was sad he died so quickly. I was hoping him and Nathan would duke it out through the first season.
Nick: That’s something this show is particularly excellent at, not holding back punches!
Felicity: And the quantity of the word ‘ballsack’… Or is that two words?
Nick: Oh, that’s nothing compared to what else comes out of Nathan’s mouth
Paul: Ha! I was really taken with how effective the show is at setting up the characters and the situation.
Felicity: The whole storyline of them getting powers through a magical storm is a little cliché, but the characters pick up the slack by making it interesting.
Paul: I think the opening was just about perfect, especially with the slow build of the theme song before it just explodes out.
Nick: That storm nonsense is a bit of a necessity though for establishing the conflicts for this show, at least in this season
Paul: I like the fact that it’s just there to get the story rolling and there’s no explanation. It just happened.
Nick: I mean, you either get something like that storm, or you get aliens or kryptonite falling everywhere
Felicity: True. Radiant green goo or something. It could’ve been worse.
Nick: You’ll see throughout the season that this show actually does quite a bit of messing with preconceived notions of superheroics and the way they use that storm’s effects later on down the line is fantastic
Felicity: I did like the giant chunks of hail falling.
Paul: I love that scene. Total chaos. Then the iconic lightning blast shot with all of them flying through darkness. Beautiful.
Felicity: I did really like the slow motion effects.
Paul: That playing with preconceived notions is really at the heart of this show. Especially when Heroes had just spent a couple of seasons doing everything it could to poison the concept.
Felicity: I didn’t really mind Heroes that much until about halfway through season 2
Nick: Misfits is the anti-Heroes in every possible way- it’s rich in consistent character development, it’s excellently paced and it has a keen sense of style that doesn’t bow to cliched comic book influences
But on the Heroes note, I loved that show until about the same point, Felicity. The difference, though, is that it was always kind of hammy and its ambition exceeded the abilities of its cast and crew
Misfits, however, is extremely smart and knows precisely how to juggle its influence and concept without being condescending. It appreciates the humor of its concept but also understands the need for emotional stakes
Paul: Heroes probably suffered from having to stretch the storylines out for so long, too. The short and sweet approach helps to keep Misfits fresh.
Nick: That’s a good point, Paul
Felicity: I think there’s just enough shows out there that have the same basic plot of people getting superpowers. There’s only so much you can do. Heroes was trying something, but they didn’t have anything to make it stand apart.
Paul: We’ll see, once we get to the end of Season Two, that even Misfits has to rethink some things.
Nick: Yeah, I can’t wait until we get to that point, there’s a lot to dig into then.
There’s also a certain appeal in the fact that Misfits‘ cast is full of fuck-ups and wankers
Felicity: True, most people will side with the misunderstood fuck-up rather than the perfect cheerleader.
You guys aren’t helping me resist the urge to watch more.
Paul: The line at the end of Episode One really brought it all home for me, when Simon suggests that maybe they are supposed to become superheroes: “In what kind of a fucked up world would that be allowed to happen?”
Felicity: Yeah, that line summed up the entire show. Any chance someone’ll spoil what Nathan’s power is? Since I’m dying of curiosity?
Nick: Trust me, it’s much better if you don’t know. Especially since after you find out you can go back and see all the clues the writers left
What was really fascinating to me about these first two episodes, though, is how the first season of Misfits is more along the lines of single issue comics compared to the overarching sprawl of Season Two, which is kind of a like a standard trade (it’s even six episodes! and a one-shot!).
Paul: This first season does a very nice job of introducing this world and then casually expanding it bit by bit. Episode Two really works that approach with the introduction of other people with “powers”.
Felicity: I do have to ask though… if you woke up and had to pee, went into a bathroom covered in blood with a broken door… would you really not notice?
Nick: If you’re an ASBO kid, you’re probably used to that kind of shit already, wouldn’t you think, Felicity?
Felicity: I’d think you’d notice out of survival instinct if you’re that used to it happening.
Paul: Nathan’s oblivious to just about everything.
Nick: Then my second counter is, these kids aren’t exactly the brightest, haha!
Felicity: Ha, very true. Just adds to the insight of the characters.
Nick: Which is another thing I loved- they’re all lacking in common sense in some way or another. It’s refreshing to see that. This show doesn’t take the easy route of heartwarming leaf t
urning or anything. These kids are fuck-ups for a reason, but just like anyone they have their good qualities too.
Paul: I think my favorite aspect of the basic concept is how the powers that manifest are essentially exaggerations of the characters’ needs or personalities.
Nick: Season one also does an excellent job of working certain genres and references in. The pilot is basically 28 Days Later meets Heroes and episode two wouldn’t have been out of place as a portion of Back to the Future.
Paul: I had to stop watching for a few minutes when Granny Fuck Me appeared! I was laughing until I cried.
Felicity: I was torn between horror and laughing my ass off over that Granny.
Felicity: I did love how there were comedic references around every corner. The differences between the each member of the group just give everyone someone to relate to in some way.
Paul: Comedy-wise, I thought the dog’s thoughts were a little over-the-top, to be honest.
Nick: The dog’s thoughts are what you thought were over-the-top rather than the huge segments devoted to taking photos of the aforementioned ballsack?
Paul: Yeah. Go figure.
Felicity: Hey, Nathan having to explain the parts to everyone he showed was hilarious.
Nick: I know what you mean, though, Paul, it was a little out of place for how the show progresses otherwise. But I couldn’t resist making another dig at your growing list of weird things you approve of.
Still, even with that misstep, that pilot is a pretty flawless introduction to the series
Felicity: I did feel really bad for Granny Fuck Me afterward though. At least she got a bang before she went out though.
Nick: Too bad she got banged by Nathan
Paul: The real sense of sadness at the end of Episode Two was another surprise. Even if Nathan still couldn’t bring himself to kiss her.
Nick: It wouldn’t have been fitting for him as a character to do that, though
Felicity: Nope. All characters have to have some flaws, even if we hate them for it. Especially in a show like Misfits.
Hey, I just realized that Lady Stark ends up with a dog man here, and a Dire Wolf man in Game of Thrones.
Felicity: I feel the need to insert a doggy style joke somewhere in here.
Paul: I’m just saying…
Nick: The way this show uses humor is disarming in a way. It distracts you from what’s really coming so when the emotional stakes are raised, you’re completely unprepared. It’s a brilliant tactic, I think
Nick: Especially with that scene, where you want to hate Nathan but at the same time you have to wonder how you’d react yourself.
It’s easy to call him out as a twat because of how he already behaves but you know his reaction there isn’t mean spirited, just reflexive. In his own way, Nathan is the show’s most honest character.
Felicity: Nathan is the most honest character, I agree.
Paul: Even though just about everything that leaves his mouth is a lie or a joke.
Nick: Or a belch.
Paul: or a swear.
Felicity: But he’s just being him. He doesn’t really lie unless it’s an outrageous joke. He is rather irritating because he never shuts up though.
Nick: He really grows on you though.
Felicity: There are a few flaws with the show though. Like how Kelly can hear anyone’s thoughts, but she never seems to get bombarded by too many at once.
Nick: I think that’s because a) it would be extremely difficult to have the show be watchable if she was bombarded by thoughts all the time and b) she probably tunes it out like we tune out conversations when we’re at a restaurant.
Felicity: Especially if she’s able to hear animal thoughts, too.
Nick: Her power is quite possibly the biggest crutch out of everyone’s. Annoying animal thoughts notwithstanding.
Paul: Alisha’s the character that I feel the most sorry for.
Felicity: I hated Alisha’s character, so I find it hard to feel sorry for her.
Paul: That’s understandable.
Felicity: She spends her entire life being the sexed up, idiotic slut, so it’s poetic justice that nobody can touch her without wanting to rape her.
Nick: Alisha is the character that takes the longest time to bloom but you’ll come around on her. Not saying she’s ever as interesting as Nathan or Simon, but no character on this show is poorly written, luckily.
Felicity: She’s basically just Rogue from X-Men except with a sex twist.
Paul: But under that, she’s all about fitting in and being desirable. Her whole sense of self is built on that.
Nick: Ah, she’s not idiotic, though. It’s kind of tough to discuss her without ruining things.
Paul: Her power makes her the most isolated, physically and emotionally.
Felicity: Well, I do see her deep seated self-esteem issues, so I suppose the isolation wouldn’t do anything but help that along.
Paul: But we really get into that with Episode Three.
Felicity: There’s always one character that takes forever to get interesting, so we’ll just wait and see.
Nick: Fortunately she doesn’t take forever. You know, it’s funny because later Simon winds up being so interesting but I forgot how minimized he is at first.
Paul: So who are our favorite characters right out of the gate?
Felicity: Hmmm. Probably Simon or Nathan. My hat’s off to Iwan Rheon for playing Simon. He does a great job at making him look like the weird, awkward kid.
Paul: The first time through, I didn’t really care much for Nathan. He was too extreme, but he grew on me.
Nick: They really push Nathan, who remains the central focus in some ways, and Curtis. I still like Curtis quite a bit; he may be the only “good” character.
Nick: Simon is my favorite too, and he was from the get-go just because he is so obviously trying to be Ian Curtis. I mean, he has the same haircut, same shirts, same stiff manner. Simon is Ian Curtis without a band to put his self-loathing into
So of course I have to love Simon
Paul: I like Curtis a lot, but his power ends up being too much of a crutch when things get bad.
Nick: I’m really having to fight the temptation to go on about what a Deus Ex Machina Curtis turns into
Paul: Although I think Episode Four is one of the best uses of
time travel in a sci-fi television show ever.
Felicity: I did like how they slow motioned the eye and sped the images past for his power though. There are very few special effects, but it works for the show.
Nick: Hollywood should take note of how this show deals with super powers.
Paul: Seriously. Everyone should.
Nick: So effective and minimalist, totally proves what a burden a big budget can be in some ways
Felicity: They won’t. You know they won’t, haha.
Nick: I know they won’t but I can dream, damn it!
Felicity: No, I will not leave you to your delusions!
Nick: In my version of reality, Primer was a box office smash.
Paul: I know it sounds hyperbolic, but I think this might be the best exploration of the genre on film.
There. I said it.
Nick: I actually completely agree with you, Paul.
Felicity: From what I’ve seen, I can agree.
Nick: Tonally and visually this is the best example of superheroics done right on celluloid. Or HD, in this case.
The film school geek in me would also like to point out that this is how you should use digital film. I fucking love the way the cinematographer, Christopher Ross, uses digital limitations to his advantage.
Felicity: I reserve the right to change my vote when I eventually see more though.
Paul: And it has a great soundtrack! There are playlists for every episode on the Misfits website.
Felicity: I will admit to not having paid much attention to the music… Though in my defense, I rarely do when I watch something through the first time.
Nick: Please please please do check out that soundtrack, people. Great bands, great songs and a perfect illustration of how to get the most out of licensed music.
Any show that finds the way to use something like the Rapture’s “Echoes” as the theme is doing right by me.
Paul: Anytime the Klaxons’ “Atlantis to Interzone” is used, I fall in love.
Felicity: Yes, yes, I shall educate myself, lol.
Paul: And the use of both versions of “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” in episode two were heartbreaking.
Nick: Plus they used Gene Pitney’s “24 Hours from Tulsa” which is one of the most underrated pop songs of all-time
Nick: Just to refresh your memory:
Felicity: I do like that song.
Nick: Gene Pitney was a badass. I will continue to preach that gospel until everyone else recognizes that fact.
Paul: God damn there’s just so much good stuff in this show.
Nick: Any other major things to hit or should we rate these two?
Paul: Oh yeah! We should probably mention that the show won the BAFTA for best drama series in 2010 for Season One. And Lauren Socha won for best supporting actress this year for her work in Season Two.
I really didn’t expect Misfits to be so warmly embraced.
Felicity: I feel as if I should somehow stand up for America, but I just really can’t.
Felicity: It’s true. We kill everything good.
Paul: American bastardizations don’t always suck. Almost. But not always.
Nick: “You know what this show needs? More product placement. And guest stars. Lots of guest stars.”
Paul: Being Human grew into something nice.
Nick: Yeah, but you know Misfits is a show that would not be adapted properly
Paul: Yeah. And I couldn’t make it through the first episode of the American Shameless.
Nick: You didn’t miss much, I had to review that series’ entire season
Paul: And luckily, IT Crowd, Spaced, and No Heroics all died on the vine. Hmmm. So I guess one out of five isn’t that good after all.
Paul: I didn’t care for the American The Killing either.
Yeah, I guess we ruin everything.
Nick: The Office had a pretty decent run. I like to pretend it ended about halfway through the most recent season, though
Paul: Oh yeah. I always forget about The Office.
Nick: That could be the motto of that show
“You forgot this show still existed, didn’t you?”
Paul: We’ll see what happens next season.
Felicity: Famous last words.
Paul: So, Episode One ratings?
Nick: for me
Paul: for me too.
And Episode Two?
Nick: for that emotional climax alone
Felicity: . They had me at Granny Fuck Me.
Paul: and agreed on both points!
When he’s not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for “Partytime” Lukash’s Panel Panopticon.
Felicity Gustafson was born in Ohio and, after the astounding realization that there was more to do than look at trees and cows, she decided to become a nerd and got into comics, anime and video games. New to Comics Bulletin, she sticks mostly to reviewing things out of the horror and comedy genres. She spends most of her time working in the manufacturing industry, finishing her computer degree and steadfastly avoiding ham fat at all costs.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to What Looks Good and Shot for Shot. He currently has little spare time, but in what there is he continues to work on his first novel, tentatively titled Damaged Incorporated. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, sci-fi television, the original Deathlok, Nick Fury, and John Constantine. He can be summed up in three words: Postmodern Anarchist Misanthropy. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.