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17th December 2012 12:00:00
Posted by Nick Bryan

Misfits: Series 4 - Final Review

Review of Misfits series 4 from E4/Channel 4, starring Joseph Gilgun, Karla Crome, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Nathan McMullen and Natasha O'Keefe, and written by Howard Overman.
Like many a British show before it, Channel 4's sweary, grubby superhero-comedy-drama Misfits suffered severe cast losses going into its fourth year, and was forced to relaunch almost from scratch, the only holdovers loudmouth Rudy (only introduced last year, but I love him still) and Curtis, a dull chap who works only as a straight man to more interesting characters.

The BBC's Being Human weathered a similar fourth series storm at the start of the year, building a new cast and making us love them - can All-New Misfits survive the transition with the same warmth and charm that they did? Well, as warm as this series ever gets - there's usually piss or shit somewhere nearby. Catch on 4 On Demand before I spoil it for you.

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Being Misfits?

Sadly, I can't pretend this Misfits revamp is as successful as the Being Human one. The show was already on shaky ground after the third year, which started and ended well but had quite a dull patch in the middle, and this... still isn't fantastic. The best Misfits series have felt like brilliant chaos, a rush of seemingly random action which ultimately ends up being cleverly logical, wrapped up in clever jokes and horrible banter. This fourth year, a lot of the time, commits the sin of being kinda boring.

I think there must've been a deliberate attempt to switch tones this year - after last time's zombie plague, alternate Nazi reality and time travel, this time goes low-key and focuses on the relationships, family dramas, conversations. Hell, it's so underplayed that they barely even use their powers, a point so weird that it's made into a joke in the series finale. The change in style might work if the narrative was still as crazed, but a lot of this was also a bit predictable.

And now, a short break in the moaning, while I admit that a few episodes of this series were pretty good. Particular respect to the first episode, a clever story that uses the introduction of new characters as an excuse to toss us in at the deep end of a complicated mystery. I also enjoyed episode four, the swan-song of Nathan Stewart-Jarrett's Curtis, which hit me with a real, lasting sense of pathos and tragedy. It has to be said, Curtis always greys into the background when he's just part of an ensemble, but his spotlight episodes are reliably strong. Also points to the killer rabbit episode for being likably weird, and the finale just for being Rudy-centric.

That's four of the episodes I've just admitted to enjoying, so why do I get this urge to shrug when thinking back on the year as a whole?

Someone Just Tell Me If Finn Is A Prick

They just failed to pull the same energy out, ultimately. It felt flat. Not just in terms of plot, but the new characters weren't that inspiring as a whole. Karla Crome is a gifted actress who was excellent in Murder - she successfully brings Jess to life, but she's not playing a very immediate character. Nathan McMullen's Finn, although he does have the hook of imprisoning his girlfriend at the start of the show, is mostly just another quite normal bloke. Yes, these are dcently written and acted normal people, much like Curtis, but ultimately, much of this series is two or three random folk standing around being either confused by events or disgusted by Rudy.

Although, on the subject of Finn imprisoning his girlfriend... that was a weird twist, wasn't it? They never managed to convince me he had a perfectly good reason other than just being a prick, so it confused me when he was presented as a lovable loser in subsequent episodes.

Abbey, played by Natasha O'Keefe, does have a strong presence and singular voice, which is what we want from our Misfits characters. We only get two episodes with her really, but she feels like a strong addition. Alex "From The Bar", on the other hand, seems a bit of a strutting wanker compared to our normal outcasts and quippers. He could add something to the group, although since he's restricted to a role as Jess's crappy boyfriend here, it hasn't happened yet and I was mostly surprised he survived that stabbing.

At the end of the day, this series wasn't a total disaster, I was often entertained and still love Rudy long-time, but All-New Misfits feels like it still needs fine-tuning before I start really looking forward to it. The new cast have potential, and they've apparently been renewed for a fifth series, so they'll get that chance. I imagine I'll be watching. Will you?

Misfits is no longer on the telly, but you can watch every single episode on 4OD, and I would recommend the experience.