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MISFITS POST: Review of Series 4, Episode 1

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SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 1, series 4 of ‘Misfits’

A new year and some fresh faces have joined the gang. Following Alisha’s (Antonia Thomas) unexpected death and Simon (Iwan Rheon) travelling back into the past to save her, the gang is left two down.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Lauren Socha, who plays Kelly, would also be leaving the show. The audience is informed through Seth (Matthew McNulty) that Kelly has decided to stay in Africa to diffuse landmines which seems something very unlike the character.

Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarett) is the only member of the original cast still on the show. There is of course Joe Gilgun’s Rudy and his split personalities to keep things interesting, along with Seth the only member of the group not on community service.

Just like other shows such as Being Human and Doctor Who, that have had major cast changes, it is always a challenge for the writer to introduce new characters, make them likeable and make it work in the context of the show. While Gilgun managed to add another dimension to Misfits after the departure of Robert Sheehan’s Nathan, losing another three members in one go seems like an insurmountable feat to pull off flawlessly. And unfortunately episode one does not manage to do this.

There are two newbies: Finn (Nathan McMullen), a wide-eyed, naïve manchild with an odd sense of humour and an ineptitude for telekinesis; and Jess (Karla Crome), a smart, sarcastic wise-cracker who can see through walls. Out of the pair of them Jess comes across as the more likeable and ‘conventional’ social miscreant compared to Finn. Saying this, there is more to Finn on closer inspection, namely the girl tied to his bed.

Series creator Howard Overman is clearly trying to avoid replicating personalities in order to make sure that Jess and Finn are not seen as replacements but characters in their own right. However, neither of them are as distinct as their predecessors. It is more difficult to pigeonhole them, which in this case is not a good thing because it makes it difficult to get a sense of them.

The audience knew from the start that Nathan was the joker, Simon was the loner, Alisha was the slut, Kelly was the chav and Curtis was the regretful athlete. It was easier for the audience to get a handle on these characters because of the labels, as the series progressed they developed and these associations fell away.

Perhaps, this is a harsh conclusion given that it is just the first episode and hopefully it gets better as the series goes on. That is not to say that the first episode was awful by any means, it just was not on par with the usual quality of comedy and drama that the show is defined by.

Of course there were the serious moments juxtaposed with humour, such as Jess and Finn discussing how they imagined they were each going to kick the bucket. Jess has the conventional growing old and dying in her sleep scenario while Finn wants to go in a drug-fuelled car crash with Angelina Jolie by his side. The way in which Overman can switch from serious to silly in mere moments is superb and he has not lost his touch. But there are times when it is just not as pithy as it has been in the past, particularly with Finn, luckily Jess throws out some zingers to offset this.

The comedy scenes involving Rudy are on form, possibly because Overman knows this character a lot better than his new creations. The scene where the newbies walk in on Rudy at the start of a five knuckle shuffle session with a chocolate bar and a laptop was hilarious.

This week fell into the gangster heist genre and contained the most gory scene in the show’s history to date. Forget Kelly killing a probation worker with a paint can and her foot, the sequence involving Rudy sawing off a man’s hand felt gratuitously violent. The episode may have been paying homage to gangster flicks but it felt unnecessary to see his cut all the way through the wrist until the hand fell off.

Overall this was a so-so opener to the start of the fourth series but due to the big change in cast perhaps fans can forgive the programme for not delivering as well as it has done in the past.

Next time on Misfits… Unsurprisingly, viewers will discover more about Finn and why on earth he is holding a girl prisoner in his bedroom.

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Is anyone still watching this? What did you think of the new kids? I love Rudy sfm. I didn't even notice the others were gone tbh, he carries the show.

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