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As a fan of British TV, something that really chaps my hide is when US networks take an awesome UK show and re-tool it 'till it sucks. Case in point: "Misfits."
An excellent, unusual and groundbreaking show, "Misfits," which just began its third season in the UK, is on for an American remix courtesy of Josh Schwartz, executive producer of "Gossip Girl" and "The OC." This is not good news.
Schwartz seems like a good choice, but I wonder whether the same kind of rawness and sincerity combined with humor and sensitivity could be sustained in a remake by the guy who brought the "teen soap" back to primetime.
The premise of "Misfits" sounds goofy, but believe me it's brilliant. Five "young offenders" from drastically different backgrounds are assigned community service complete with horrid orange jumpsuits. On one fateful day they get caught in a thunderstorm just outside their community center. Soon they each discover they’ve been given superpowers.
The beautiful bad girl Alisha (played by Antonia Thomas) can make anyone uncontrollably sexually attracted to her just by touching them. Kelly (Lauren Socha) is an around-the-way girl who can now hear what people are thinking. Creepy Simon (Iwan Rheon) can make himself become invisible and former track star Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is able to rewind time. Only wise-ass Nathan (Robert Sheehan) appears to not have been affected by the storm.
What happens next takes the story far beyond your standard superhero narrative. Their powers amplify their personalities, bringing a sense of urgency to each character's emotional development and giving them depth beyond their abilities. Take Alisha, one of those girls Amy Winehouse used to sing about, who now has to contend with the dangers of her sexual prowress to the tenth degree.
We get to watch as a once hodgepodge group comes together to support one another through the extremes resulting from random circumstance.
Basically "Misfits" tears up the road "Heroes" started down. It's relatable where "Heroes" eventually became unbelievable.
"You lot, superheros?" complains Nathan when he realizes everyone has a power except for him. "No offense but in what kind of fucked-up world would that be allowed to happen?"
"What if there's loads of people like us all over town?" asks Kelly.
"No, that kind of thing only happens in America," explains Nathan.
Frankly, I can’t imagine that the American version of this show could possibly do the original justice. I can’t imagine that it could even be good.
True there have been successful exceptions to the rule. "The Office" managed to find its own American flavor. Norman Lear’s 1970’s sitcoms "All In The Family" and "Sanford and Son" were both based on successful British shows.
But the most recent British to American transition track record is dismal at best. Some egregious examples include MTV’s failed attempt to replicate "Skins," ABC’s "Life On Mars" debacle and the infamous "Coupling" fiasco. Those were all great shows rendered unwatchable by the move across the pond.
So, get caught up on the first two seasons of "Misfits" before our fellow Americans get their grubby little hands on the show and choke all of the life out of it. Does that sound harsh? Maybe I'm just being stingy and pessimistic, but some series deserve their own citizenship. With entertainment passports like Hulu and Netflix, American audiences can soak up the cracks of another culture.