It’s been a while, but Misfits is finally returning to our screens at the end of the month and last night I joined the cast and crew, as well as plenty of press and fans, to have a look at the first episode of series three. As many of you will know, Robert Sheehan has left the show earlier this year, so Nathan was given an online send-off with Joseph Gilgun’s Rudy replacing him. Now, I know that Misfits is an ensemble show (and over time Simon and Kelly had taken over from Nathan as my favourite characters), but it is a very big pair of shoes to fill and I was worried about whether the show would quite manage to be the same without him. The good news is that this is the same Misfits we knew and loved – just as funny, just as action packed and just as cinematic.
The first episode opens just where we left off. With a short but sweet nod to Nathan’s misadventures across the pond, we find Simon continuing on his quest to become Superhoodie, Alicia still by his side in their superhero lair, Curtis running the bar we saw in the Christmas special and Kelly… well, being Kelly. But it mainly focuses on new boy Rudy, who finds himself on community service along with a couple of girls who both play an important role in the first episode. It’s no secret that the original cast eventually find themselves back in the orange jumpsuits, but it’s a lot of fun finding out how they get there.
It’s probably important to mention at this point that despite fan speculation over the last few months, Ruth Negga does not return as Nikki – this is not a spoiler, more a clarification of what we were apparently supposed to know from the Christmas special (looking back on my review of that episode, I thought Curtis might try to get a new power to be able to save her, and I wasn’t the only one). One important character that does come back is Seth, the superpower dealer, with the clips I’ve seen from the rest of the series showing that he’s going to play an important part in events after dishing out new powers to the gang at the end of the Christmas special.
Ah yes, the new powers. They do all have new powers, and we do get to find out what they are in the first episode. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to tell you what they are, or Kelly will come round and give me a headbutt. Which, later in the series, is what she does to… ah.. can’t say that either. What I can say is that the powers are the usual mix of useful and not so useful, a couple of them have plenty of comedy potential but at some point in the series they’re all likely to come in handy.
Creator Howard Overman wrote six of the eight episodes this series, roping in Mongrels writer Jon Brown to pen episodes five and six. Overman says it was a great relief to finally find someone who can also write the show, adding that it made him up his game and he will try to get Brown to write more episodes of series four. Yes, series four! I’m not sure it’s been formally announced yet, but Overman was telling us how he plans to show us more of the gang’s parents in it (having previously only seen Nathan’s) and that this third series’ final scene, only written a few days before it was shot, sets things up nicely for the fourth. He also addressed the rumours of an American remake of Misfits, confirming that talks are ongoing but he wants to “make sure they do it the right way.”
Was Joe Gilgun a fan of the show before he joined the cast? Umm, no. He said he doesn’t watch much telly, aside from Time Team, which he’s fascinated with. He did once flatshare with Lauren Socha and her brother Michael (Being Human’s Tom McNair), so managed to fit in quite easily with the cast, with Iwan Rheon mentioning that his lips are covered in bite marks from trying to delivering serious lines with a straight face while Joe fools around behind the camera.
Lauren, of course, won a BAFTA earlier this year, and expressed her disbelief in a way only she could – “Who the f*** gets a BAFTA?!”. She says it hasn’t changed her, despite her mum calling the local TV news cameras in to take pictures of the mantelpiece being dusted.
As I mentioned, Joe’s character Rudy is very much the focus of this first episode, as we get to learn about him – often getting a little too much information – and discover his power (of course he has one!) and a heartbreaking previous connection with one of the original gang. While Rudy has similarly crude lines to Nathan, he’s quite a different character with an interesting personality to explore – on the one hand an obnoxious, full-of-himself womaniser but on the other a tortured, deeply insecure young man. I’m certain most fans will warm to him by half way through the first episode and all worries about the loss of Nathan will be gone. He also has to get his top off a couple of times in the first episode, and Joe is the first to say he’s not quite as buff as Iwan or Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, saying “I look like I’m in a famine and these two look like they caused it!”
The episode is full of everything you’d expect from a good hour of Misfits, typically funny and rude one-liners (I’ll always think of the same thing whenever anyone mentions brunch from now on), a villain of the week who puts our heroes in tricky situation, some powerful character development, that trademark visual style, a brilliant soundtrack and some great special effects. Here’s a factoid for you: there were 200 effects in series two, but 148 in the first three episodes of series three alone.
Episode one is very good, and with the promise of zombie cheerleaders and time travel-based fun later in the series, I’ve no doubt Misfits will continue to be amazing for some time to come.