The Aliens arrives with the impeccable credential of being made by the same production company who brought Misfits to E4. The Aliens promises to do for extra terrestrials what Misfits did for superheroes: make them very British, grounded and a bit rubbish. But in a good way.
But The Aliens is its own beast. It’s not as gleefully vile as Misfits, and lead character Lewis – played by the ever loveable Michael Socha – is really quite sweet as he comes to terms with learning that he’s half alien.
Episode one does some excellent world-building and Troy, the alien ghetto, looks fantastic. This is much fancier than we’ve come to expect from E4. Filming in Bulgaria clearly helps you get more bang for your buck, and all those bucks are up on screen for viewers to marvel at. Whether it’s a vivid and nightmarish club scene or a brilliant guest turn from Ashley Walters, the show is pretty impressive.
The main cast are wonderful too. Socha handles drama and comedy equally well, and his performance when he’s accidentally high on ‘Powerball’ is a stand-out moment. Michaela Coel is suitably enigmatic as the woman who might be an ally or a dangerous enemy, and Jim Howick has great comic timing as Lewis’ earnest alien co-worker.
Howick and Socha are, unfortunately, let down by a horribly dated subplot which relies on gay panic to sell the same punchline time and time again. In a show which is intelligent enough to draw parallels to the current refugee crisis, homophobic jokes are just lowering the tone. And not in a good, Misfits sort of way.
But we can overlook some weak aspects thanks to a well-created world in which alien hair is the new crack and dishwasher tablets are the new Ecstasy. The central concept and set-up is strong enough to easily carry viewers into episode two, and we look forward to Michael Socha’s well-deserved world domination.