This time last year, I opened my review by saying that 2011 would be a make or break year for Misfits. If I'd known then what I know now. Last season I was convinced that losing Robert Sheehan would spell disaster for the show. It didn't. It was different, but it was still embarrassingly funny, occasionally brilliant, and excruciatingly vulgar. And then, seemingly inexplicably, three major characters left at once, leaving Curtis (the most boring character of all), and new recruit Rudy, to pick up the pieces. Can any show survive such character upheaval?
I suppose you could argue that Being Human has. Whether it survives the loss of Annie is perhaps yet to be determined, but season four wasn't bad at all. True, it wasn't as good as season three. Similarly, season three of Misfits wasn't as good as season two. So I've been seriously considering whether I want to continue reviewing Misfits this season. The things I loved about it -- namely Nathan, Kelly and Simon -- are gone. On the plus side, Howard Overman is still in charge, and he's still one hell of a writer (I'm loving his Merlin stuff.) But my enthusiasm for this season has been lacklustre at best. Part of that's probably to do with a heinous lack of advertising by E4. Or maybe, for me, the show has simply lost its sparkle.
Tonight's episode played very much like a pilot episode. Everything felt new. Even the characters we're familiar with seemed oddly off kilter. Dropping us in the middle of the action, with a guy with a missing hand, Curtis trapped in a chest freezer, and Rudy posing as a probation worker, was the perfect way to throw us off balance. We were also introduced to new recruits, Jess, who can see through walls, and Finn, who can move small plant pots with his mind (and who also has a girl held captive in his bedroom.) That was an odd turn up for the books. Are we supposed to not like Finn because, currently, I don't. Virtually everything he said seemed to be in extremely poor taste (more on that in 'Bits and Pieces'), although he did come out with some extremely funny lines.
To be fair, it's early days, but Jess and Finn didn't leap off the screen in quite the same way as, say, Nathan or Alisha did back in season one. They don't feel as fully formed, and they're certainly not as easy to pigeon-hole. Apart from some humorous dialogue (the snappier coming from Jess), they weren't given much to do, except piss themselves in unison in a chest freezer. (Which, for Misfits, is as perfect an introduction as you could wish for.) Jess seems the more likeable of the two -- she has attitude about her -- whereas Finn currently comes across as awkward and a little cowardly. Jess' power may even come in handy -- which is more than can be said for Finn's. Frankly, his telekinesis is rubbish -- but it wouldn't be Misfits without some poor sap being lumbered with a crappy superpower.
Kelly's absence was explained away by her being in Uganda, helping land mine victims. The official line is that Lauren Socha left the show by mutual agreement. Nothing to do with her being done for racially aggravated assault then? I thought not. Oh, the irony of having to do 80 hours actual community service. Talk about life imitating art. I'd laugh if it wasn't so sad -- I doubt even her character, Kelly, would've stooped so low. But at least we got to see the return of Seth. Will he stay, or will he be returning to Uganda once his affairs are in order? Hopefully the latter. I don't think the show can afford to lose anyone else.
In short, this was a decent enough episode, I'm just not sure it was a great opener. I'd like to have seen the newbies given more time to grow, but the elements which make Misfits such compelling viewing are still in evidence. Rudy was as crude as ever, and the violence and humour were as graphic as you could wish for. Did the tone feel a little darker to anyone else? Hopefully, episode two will give us a better idea of which direction they intend to take the show, but I'm mildly encouraged.
Bits and Pieces:
-- The new probation worker seems like a right git. The sooner they kill him the better. Hopefully, he won't live long enough to feed anyone dog shit with a teaspoon... or do that thing with the train.
-- Finn's choice of conversation in the freezer was poorly timed, what with all the child abuse stuff going on in the news at the moment. Unavoidable, I suppose, but it still made me squirm a little.
-- I love how self referential the show's becoming. Yes it is 'always the storm', and, no, the probation workers don't ever last very long.
-- Rudy's going to go blind if he doesn't watch out.
Rudy: “Imagine the bloke in the freezer is a shit, and over here we've got a giant fan.”
Finn: “Oh, my God, what's that? Something's moving in my hand!”
Jess: “That's my tit! Stop touching my tit!”
Finn: “I was looking for my phone.”
Jess: “It's not in my bra.”
Seth: “I've done both bollocks, a couple of fingers and his bell end.”
Rudy: “What did he say?”
Seth: “He said 'ouch!' and 'fuck you!'”
Finn: “Are you pissing in your pants or getting it out?”
Jess: “I'll be pissing in my pants.”
Jess: “Will you please just shut the fuck up and let me piss myself?”
Finn: “Why did he single me out? Why me?”
Seth: “Don't sweat it, man. Chances are he'll be dead by the end of the week.”