E4, 10pm, 23 October 2013
|... no, it's a bunch of chavs doing Community Service. Or is it?|
Misfits is back and the nation's favourite group of delinquents are on top form.
Misfits is quietly brilliant. For those of you who don’t know, it’s about – as the title specifies – a bunch of twenty-something chavs on Community Service. Who just happen to have special powers. Rudy (the brilliant Joseph Gilgun) can literally split himself in two, Finn (Nathan McCullen) can levitate objects badly and Alex (Matt Stokoe), the ‘Handsome Barman’, has ‘the chance to use my cock for good’, shagging girls and boys until climaxing releases a healing power. I’m not au fait with the powers of Jess (Carla Crome) and Abbey (Natasha O’Keefe), but as you might have guessed from reading this, the series is the Chaucer version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: still very funny but a lot ruder.
I’d watched the occasional one in the past. The episode that sticks in my mind the most is the one with an altered timeline where the Nazis had won the Second World War. Typically for the programme’s dry, deadpan sense of humour, not much had changed on the misfits’ strangely under-populated (apart from the local bar) council estate.
Still written by creator Howard Overman and beginning its final series, last night Misfits excelled itself. A group of Boy Scouts harbouring the Devil (yes, Boy Scouts – with girls, and communally singing ‘Wonderwall’, which is obviously a sign of demonic possession) gradually took over our dysfunctional heroes until Alex had to save the day by shagging Finn free of Satan. At the same time, a mysterious woman (Ruth Sheen) who’s able to ‘knit the future’ (sending up Heroes), established the concluding series’ story arc by knitting Rudy a jumper that showed the misfits behaving like real superheroes.
As with Buffy and Being Human, supernatural gifts are a metaphor for the emotional development of the main characters, but what’s refreshing about Misfits is that the superpowers are almost incidental and are mainly there as comedy metaphors for the emotionally immature twenty-somethings. Finn was unable to clout the demon Scoutmaster with a fire extinguisher and flung a bar of soap at him instead. In a slapstick twist, the villain slipped on it and fatally cracked his head open. The aforementioned Super Shag resulted in a laugh out loud gem of dialogue, as Alex gave Finn a good sorting while a boggling Jess watched: ‘I was shagging the Devil out of yer, it was the only way, and I was doing it for her!’
Compared to Being Human, Misfits has no pretensions to being significant and the format is pleasingly loose. If a character leaves, another comes in, does something antisocial and is put on probation with the Community Service team, rather than undergoing the contrived manoeuvres to replace the regular cast that hampered Being Human. Having said that, there is an earthy lyricism to Misfits that’s very affecting. The council estate setting of grey tower blocks and a moribund community centre is fitting as, like drugs and alcohol, superpowers are portrayed as a modern problem. This was alluded to very cleverly and poetically last night, as Rudy 2 joined a support group for people trying to come to terms with their supernatural talents.
My main recommendation for Misfits, though, is that it’s bloody hilarious. The visual and vocal humour is top notch. Overman may struggle when constrained by a family drama like Atlantis, but let loose after the watershed he’s a genius. Among many brilliant one-liners, my favourite last night was Rudy’s comment that his dad always said ‘women are like tractors. Which I have never understood.’ There was a great moment as the drama and the humour combined when Jess confronted the possessed Finn in the bar and tried to exorcise him with Holy Water – unfortunately, it was Sprite.
The next month or so of Wednesday nights belongs to E4, and at some point I’ll be investing in the Misfits back catalogue. But Christmas adverts before the end of October? Please!