Last night, I went along to the BFI on London’s South Bank to have a sneaky peek at the first episode of the new series of Misfits, which starts next Thursday night on E4. I’m pleased to report that it was absolutely fantastic, taking the thrills, drama, action and comedy of the first series and taking the notch up another level.
(Contains mild spoilers)
The genre-straddling series about five teenagers on community service who develop superpowers after being struck by lightning was the surprise hit of the last year, deservedly winning the BAFTA for Best Drama along with hordes of fans. The second series picks up exactly where we left off, with Nathan still six feet under, Sally still in deep freeze and our scampish superheroes with more Community Payback to perform. The episode begins with a sequence mimicking the opening moments of the first series, except that instead of seeing the orange jumpsuits being zipped up, we’re introduced to an enigmatic new character whose identity looks like being to be the big mystery of this series.
Without wanting to give away any spoilers, even the briefest glance at the trailers and posters will indicate that Nathan doesn’t spend too long underground and a quick look at the internet shows that most people have already worked out how he makes his escape. The good news is that this is dealt with very quickly and in a brilliantly funny way. Yes, Nathan gets all the biggest laughs once again, with plenty of quotable lines throughout the episode.
It was great to watch the episode on a cinema screen, not only because of Tom Green’s fantastic direction with its unique gritty, bleak but dreamily soft-focus look, but also because it was interesting to hear the reaction of the couple of hundred people watching. This first episode mainly focuses on Simon, and Iwan Rheon puts in a fantastic performance, at one point even managing to make the audience do a great big “aww”. A special mention is also due to Evelyn Hoskins’ wonderfully eerie and at times downright chilling portrayal of Lucy, a figure from Simon’s past who is central to this episode. The episode ties up the loose ends from the first series fairly neatly, while introducing some interesting new elements, including Shaun, the lackadaisical new probation worker played by Craig Parkinson, last seen playing both Kray twins in Whitechapel.
After the screening, we also saw a few teaser clips from the rest of the six-part series and the Christmas special (yes, that’s right, there’s a special which according to Robert Sheehan has an “almost sickly Christmas theme”!). From the clips it looks like it just gets better and better with every episode. Like the first series, the gang encounter other people who have also developed powers, ranging from the spectacular (with some awesome effects, especially considering the budget) to the hilarious. Yes, there’s someone with a power even more useless than the ability to turn people bald.
Ubergeek and huge fan of the show Jonathan Ross held a Q&A session after the screening, which included a few very interesting bits of information. For one thing, although it’s yet to be confirmed by Channel Four, it looks like a third series is certain to happen. Writer and creator Howard Overman expressed an interest in getting other writers on board for the third series, with Wossy himself possibly penning an episode (although it could be a ploy to get his wife, Kick-Ass writer Jane Goldman on board!) and Lauren Socha said that the cast feel a loyalty to the series and would want to stay on, even if offered movie roles.
On the subject of movies, Overman says that despite some interest, there won’t be a film. “We’ve told that story already. It’s already cinematic.. is it worth it?”. There has also been interest in an American remake, not unlike the upcoming MTV version of Skins, and Overman doesn’t rule out the possiblity, although he is not sure it would translate, saying that it is a very British take on the superhero genre, just as Shaun of the Dead was a very British zombie film. “Shaun” star Simon Pegg is a fan of the show, but Overman and Green ruled out having any “celebrity” guest stars appear in the series, saying that it would “break the show”, because keeping the realism intact is key to making the show work.
It was also revealed that we won’t ever get to find out the cause of the storm that gave everyone their powers. Overman compares it to Groundhog Day – we never find out why Bill Murray repeats the same day over and over again but it doesn’t matter, as all we care about is what happens to him, while he feels that Lost suffered a drop in quality when it lost it’s mystique and started to over-explain things. Well, there’s that and, as he admits, he hasn’t actually come up with an explanation.
There were also a few hints dropped about how they will deal with the fact that the community service is due to end soon, so a way to keep the characters in their iconic orange jumpsuits has to be contrived, and there will be a few twists on the established theme of people’s superpowers being related to their emotions.
For those of you who enjoyed the first series of Misfits, get excited! The second is just as clever, funny and stylish but sees our unlikely heroes in even more exciting and interesting situations. With its stunning visuals, sharp writing and engaging cast, it’s just about the best home-grown drama you’ll see on TV all year.
Misfits. Thursday 11 November, 10pm, E4.
For exclusive content visit www.e4.com/misfits
Avaliable now: Misfits – Series 1 – Complete [DVD]