Mark Johnson/Clerkenwell Films
Only someone with a bizarre superpower could guess when any given British television series will turn up in the United States and what channel it will be on when it does. Six months and BBC America? A year and PBS?
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Perhaps one of the superpowered characters on “Misfits” has the gift needed to explain why that quirky series has taken so long to cross the Atlantic and why its American home ended up being Logo. In any case, the show, first seen in Britain in 2009, now stands ready to serve those who like their humor gloomy and their youthful television characters morose.
The series involves five young people who acquire superpowers after being caught outside during a peculiar storm. These are not your Disney Channel-style peppy model citizens. When the storm catches them, they are on a community-service work detail, having earned their orange jumpsuits with an assortment of bad behavior.
It takes much of the premiere for them to realize that they have been transformed, and how. Simon (Iwan Rheon) can become invisible; Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) can rewind time; Kelly (Lauren Socha, who recently earned herself some real community-service time) is telepathic; and Alisha (Antonia Thomas) causes anyone who touches her to go wild with sexual desire, a superpower not in most handbooks. Oh, and Nathan (Robert Sheehan) doesn’t figure out by the end of the first episode whether he has a superpower, which gives him some much-needed humility after the first few minutes of the show establishes that he’s a monumental jerk.
The premiere on Thursday night has so much premise-setting work to do that it doesn’t really convey how ambitiously unconventional this series is. These five are no Ninja Turtles; having superpowers doesn’t necessarily bring out their inner heroes. Their most immediate concern once they discover their powers isn’t saving the world; it’s concealing a killing in which they were all involved.
American fans who have already found “Misfits” on Hulu, where it has been available for some time, know that this show is often more drama than comedy, although a droll humor runs through it. In the premiere, for instance, Kelly hears the thoughts not only of her companions, but also of a rather raunchy dog as it’s licking her face. The attempt to be both a comedy and a drama doesn’t always work — some of the story lines can have a desperate feel — but “Misfits” has enough going for it to snare aficionados of the odd.
Logo, Thursday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.
Produced by Clerkenwell Films. Created and written by Howard Overman; Murray Ferguson and Petra Fried, executive producers; Kate Crowe, producer.
WITH: Robert Sheehan (Nathan Young), Iwan Rheon (Simon Bellamy), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Curtis Donovan), Lauren Socha (Kelly Bailey) and Antonia Thomas (Alisha Bailey).