Hour-long adventure series Misfits of Science presented crimefighting with a twist: its heroes were genetic mutants with special abilities. Okay, fine, it wasn’t much of a twist if you read The X-Men, but it was new to TV.
The team was formed by Dr. Billy Hayes and Dr. Elvin “El” Lincoln, two scientists who were employed by the Humanidyne Institute. Non-mutant Billy had no powers to speak of (other than looking good), but functioned as the team’s leader. El could shrink down to a size of six inches for fifteen minutes at a time.
The team also included Gloria Dinallo, a reformed juvenile delinquent with telekinesis (the power to move objects with her mind), and John “Johnny B” Bukowski, a former rock musician who developed the power to channel and release bursts of electricity after being accidentally shocked during a concert (which technically made him not a genetic mutant, but we’re not ones to nitpick). Dick Stetmeyer was the director of the institute, and Miss Nance was the institute’s receptionist, who was more interested in filing her nails than paying attention to mutant phenomena. Rounding out the cast was Jane Miller, the probation officer for young Gloria.
There were criminal plots to foil in every episode, and rival mutants occasionally made life miserable for our little misfits. But regardless of what foe they faced, you could be sure that El, Gloria and Johnny B would do some serious super-powered rump-kicking before the hour was through. Comic book fans, who had been in deep withdrawl since The Incredible Hulk was cancelled in 1982, breathed a sigh of contented relief.
But don’t breathe too comfortably, kids—keep those inhalers handy, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about prime time TV, it’s that superheroes generally have sadly short life spans. Such was the case with Misfits of Science, gone after less than a season. Despite the resume of producer James Parriott (The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk) and the pin-up appeal of future Friend Courteney Cox, the show never managed to convince a wide audience that mutants are people, too.
USA / NBC – Universal / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast 4 October 1985 – 21 February 1986
Dean Paul Martin as Billy Hayes
Courteney Cox as Gloria Dinallo
Kevin Peter Hall as Elvin Lincoln
Mark Thomas Miller as Johnny Bukowski
Max Wright as Dick Stetmeyer
Diane Civita as Miss Nance