Newest Review: ... and starred two thirds of the cult show, The League of Gentlemens, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemperton, and is just as darkly funny. The... more
I'm Psychoville crazy!
Member Name: magenta23
Advantages: Characters, plot, cast, deliciously dark!
Disadvantages: None yet!
Psychoville is a new black comedy series from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, two of 'The League of Gentlemen. Although the creation of these two and both star in multiple roles, the third 'Gentleman', Mark Gatiss also pops up for a starring role in one episode.
I guess for of TLOG will be drawn to this. The show after all named after the title given to the Japanese version of 'The League of Gentlemen'. It is as dark and twisted, perhaps more so, with equally fantastic and somewhat frightening characters. None of the people in this are some one you would want to meet down a dark alley. However, this series is more than just a dark comedy series, but there's mystery to unravel, a whodunnit element as well as homages to great horror films and characters from history.
Psychoville is clever in it's presentation, although keeping with a sketch show type format in a way, where we have a collection of different characters, that we drop in on and see what they are up to each week, and ultimately provide us with a few laughs, Psychoville has a lot more to it than that. In the first episode, each character we are introduced to receive and anonymous letter, which reads 'I know what you did.' Already I was hooked, so not only do we have some great characters with mini storylines of there own, there was clearly a bigger plot here to unravel. Who is sending the letters? And what terrible thing is it referring to? How are all these characters linked?
Psychoville, at the time of writing is into it's fifth episode, and many clues have now been given, but there is still a lot more to be revealed. I will not let on too much of the plot in case readers want to start watching from scratch. (It's on iplayer on no doubt a DVD to follow!)
The ingenious characters they create are what makes Shearsmith and Pemberton such great writers. The characters that make up Psychoville, and the exceptional cast bringing them to live are superb. They are as follows -
David Sowerbutts - A simple soul, who still lives at home with his mother in London. Is unemployed after a rather unsuccessful job working as an actor on murder mystery weekends. He has an obsessive interest in serial killers and has done 'a bad murder' of his own. Played brilliantly by Steve Pemberton,
Maureen Sowerbutts- David's mother. Has a very close relationship with her son, perhaps a bit too close. Played by Reece Shearsmith.
Joy Aston - A fantastic character played by Dawn French. Joy is a midwife, who believes her practice doll, Freddy is a real child.
Oscar Lomax - Played by Steve Pemberton, Lomax is an blind old man, who collects beanie babies. He is visited by ex con Michael, who comes to read to him. They embark on a mission to get the final missing beanie baby to Lomax's collection, Snappy the crocodile with some bizarre consquences.
Mr. Jelly - A one handed clown from Manchester played by Reece Shearmith. He used to be a successful children's entertainer, until the loss of his hand and now has a hook in it's place, and frightens the children he is supposed to entertain. He blames the loss of his hand on rival clown who stole his act, who goes by the name of Mr Jolly. It's soon clear that although Mr. Jelly is receiving the blackmail notes sent to the other characters, but there my actually be a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Jelly is by far my favourite character in Psychoville, even though I have a fear of clowns, for some reason the fact he is miserable rather than that painted false happy face, makes him less scary to me! One of the best scenes of the series so far is a fight between Mr. Jelly and Mr. Jolly in a ball pool!!
Robert Greenspan - A dwarf playing panto in Snow White in Eastbourne. He plays the role of Blushy, the names of the dwarves are all a slight change to the one we all know, but couldn't be used due to copyright reasons! The pantomime is directed by Christopher Biggins, who stars as himself and Robert has a crush on the woman playing Snow White, though he his the object of the affections of one of the other dwarves, Kerry who plays Sniffy. He has a past in porn films and is humiliated when his shady past is revealed to the rest of the cast. Robert is played by Jason Tompkins.
The stand out episode of the series so far is episode 4, which is a homage to Hitchcock's 'Rope' and features the characters David and Maureen. This is also the episode where Mark Gatiss guests. In an interview with the creators on the Psychoville website they explain that the entire programme was done in one single take from one camera. After hearing this I watched the entire episode again and it's amazing how they managed it. Even if you don't watch the whole series, this one is worth a watch, and probably the only one that makes sense entirely on it's own.
In addition to the programmes themselves, the website(s) that accompany Psychoville are brilliant. As with all websites that accompany films or TV series there are extras to treat fans such as interviews with the writers, idea sketches, gallery pictures and overviews of the characters and episodes. In addition to all this however is a real interactive way to get further into the plot and learn more about the characters. Each character from the show has their own website, which there are links to through the main Psychoville section of the BBC site. These are mock sites that each character has created themselves, for example, there is a site for Biggins Panto, one for maternity advice by Joy, and one on facts about serial killers by David. Mr Jelly and Mr. Jolly each have a site to promote their businesses and each are linked to each other in some way. On the main Psychoville site there is an inbox, where you receive mystery messages from the characters which ask you questions to which you must find answers by visiting all the sites. I visited the site briefly to get some cast information for this review and spent hours on this 'game!'
Overall, this series and interactive element that goes with it is like nothing I've seen before. The way it combines a classic comedy show with horror and mystery is genius and the characters and cast are imaginative and although crazy and terrifying, bizarrely likeable. Can't wait to find out the twist in the tale but hope they don't give too much away as I'm hoping for a second series!
Psychoville is on BBC2 on Thursdays at 10 or 10.30pm (the timeslot changes so check!). The website is www.bbc.co.uk/psychoville and you can catch up on iplayer too. I thoroughly recommend if you like a good mystery and have a bit of a dark side! Don't expect laugh out loud gags one after the other but for a show about blackmail and murder, it does well to remain a comedy show at heart.
Summary: As good as telly gets.