Reviews

Tom Leins presides over a battle of the TV box-sets!

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Misfits

Misfits: the story of the super-powered youngsters has gained cult appeal

BAFTA-winning comedy/drama Misfits – which tells the story of a group of young offenders who obtain super-powers after a freak electrical storm – has earned a cult audience since debuting in 2009, going on to rack up three enjoyable series – with a fourth commissioned for 2012.

However, prior to the filming of Misfits – Series 3 (4DVD), leading light Robert Sheehan (who played Irish Misfit Nathan) quit the show to try his luck in Hollywood (after appearing alongside Nicolas Cage in the dubious swords ‘n’ sorcery romp that was Season of the Witch), leaving creator Howard Overman with a huge hole to fill. Alongside resident delinquents Simon (Iwan Rheon), Kelly (Lauren Socha), Alisha (Antonia Thomas) and Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), Overman has drafted in Rudy (Joe Gilgun, Woody from This Is England), an appropriately foul-mouthed replacement for lovable rogue Nathan. As the new guy at the ill-fated Community Centre, Rudy is the recipient of the lion’s share of the funniest lines, and proves a good choice to fill Sheehan’s shoes.

The central premise for this third outing involves the gang getting to grips with their new super-powers – they all participated in a trade-off with drug-pusher-turned-super-power-dealer Seth at the tail-end of the previous series – leading to some unwieldy scenes in the early stages. After the dust settles, Kelly has a genius-level knowledge of mechanical systems (AKA rocket science), Curtis has the power to swap gender, Alisha has the power to see through other people’s eyes and visualise what they see and Simon gains the power of precognition. Meanwhile, new kid on the block Rudy can split into two, with each half of his personality displaying polarised behavioural traits. Equipped with their new powers the posse are forced to confront an increasingly unlikely array of enemies, including reanimated zombies and even Nazis; the latter in a warped alternative universe where Hitler took over Britain.

While neither the second or third series has quite managed to match up to the sublime first series of Misfits, the quality control is still pretty high, with Rudy injecting a breath of fresh air into the proceedings. However, in light of two more integral characters abandoning ship to work on other projects after Series 3, precisely how Series 4 will play out is anyone’s guess. For now, Misfits remains one of the most interesting homegrown dramas on TV, and anyone who has yet to sample its quirky ‘X-men-with-ASBOs’ narrative should make a bee-line for the box set.

The Killing 2

The Killing II: second outing of the revitalised police procedural

Critically acclaimed Danish cop show The Killing II (Arrow Films) received a rapturous reception when it first aired on BBC Four, going on to scoop the BAFTA for best international series ahead of the illustrious likes of Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire.

Hot on its heels the BBC aired series two this winter, and the box set is now available on DVD. The second outing, which picks up two years after the events depicted in series one, finds lead character Sarah Lund stripped of her detective role following disciplinary action, and demoted to an undemanding position as a passport control official on Falster Island. However, following a grisly murder – in which a woman is stabbed 21 times, reputedly as retribution for Muslims killed by Danish troops in Afghanistan – Lund’s former boss Lennart Brix lures her back into the fold in an advisory capacity. However, the increasingly labyrinthine case swallows Lund whole, and the dogged ex-cop finds herself sucked into a twisted case with its roots deeply embedded in Islamic terrorism.

At just 10 episodes long, The Killing II is just half the length of its predecessor, but despite the reduced run-time, the show’s commitment to narrative depth remains intact, with the new plot taking in ever-shifting Danish politics and traumatised soldiers, and leading Lund well out of her comfort zone and into unchartered territory. While the show may prove to be too strange for viewers fed on pulse-pounding thrillers, The Killing has arguably revitalised the police procedural with its engrossing episode-per-day approach. The recent US remake – set in rain-drenched Seattle – proved that the show’s numerous high points were all too easily lost in translation, and this new story strand sees creator Soren Sveistrup flex his storytelling muscles once more.

In The Killing II Sarah Lund’s trademark woolly jumper may have changed, but the show’s uncompromising colloquialisms remain firmly in place, and the show is still one of TV’s most refreshing imports. Intriguing stuff.

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