One of the most original and entertaining British comedy-dramas in recent years returns for a second series and, whilst the genre-defying tropes are still present, this time round the drama is more psychological.
Our five hoody heroes are all back, replete with their special powers – gifted to them in a freak electrical storm that has also rendered other supporting characters with similar traits. For those in need of a potted history: chavvy Kelly is able to hear people’s thoughts, gobby Nathan is immortal, phone-addicted Alisha has sexual control over others by touching them, loner Simon can render himself invisible and disgraced athlete Curtis can turn back time. The group murders their probation worker, who was adversely affected by the storm and also his girlfriend (as luck would have it the replacement probation officer), while Nathan ends the first series six feet under.
Perhaps one of the best compliments that can be paid to the series is that is borrows so much from other shows (The Tripods – teenage enslavement, True Blood – religious cults, Heroes – unlikely superheroes) yet keeps its own identity very much intact. Series 2 takes a more formulaic approach than the scattershot oddities of the first year, with each episode having less of a through line and more of a “weirdo of the week” theme. It’s clear from the off that no probation officer is safe and the new recruit (Craig Parkinson as Shaun) has a mouth on him to battle Nathan’s wisecracks. The group have to battle shapeshifters, brothers who arrive out of the blue, mind-altering drugs, reversible powers and a mysterious figure that watches over them, who can be best described as a super-hoodie.
It’s evident from the plentiful extras that the cast have a lot of fun off-camera and, whilst the supporting cast grow as the show spreads its wings, one at times wishes for the more direct character-based drama of the original, but such issues are moot next to the sheer rush of drama that each episode engenders.
Apart from the fact that the cinematographer has gone a bit overboard with the tilt-shift lens effect, with even the HD screening having an unfocussed smear to the outside of the shot, there is precious little to criticise in such a homegrown winner of a show.
Released on DVD on 27th December 2010 by 4 DVD.