Thursday, 18 June 2009


There is a god.

I have been saved from watching the mundane circus that is Big Brother by an absolutely splendid bit of dark comedy by the writers of The League of Gentlemen; Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. Of course, I'm talking about Psychoville.

If you're familiar with League, and want more of the same, without the inevitable trading of quality for quantity after the whoring of series after series, Psychoville is the perfect solution.

Playing on a number of traditional ghost stories and horror films, Psychoville creates a twisted universe not dissimilar to that of Royston Vasey. Film references galore for those who care, although it doesn't detract from the programme at all if you don't get them. That said, I think you've missed a trick if you haven't chuckled at the reworking of the Carrie narrative to incorporate dwarves and pornography. We are introduced to several seemingly completely unique characters, drawn together by a number of identical anonymous letters dispatched to them with the handwritten message: 'I know what you did'.

Seeming cliched to you? It is, but that's part of its charm. The writers play with the traditional structure of existing texts in order to bring their own dark comedic element to the piece. Expect a little glimmer in the darkness, and revel in treading the line between horror and hysteria. Dawn French is surprisingly good in a role I honestly didn't think she'd be able to pull off, as a midwife coveting a doll in the absence of her own child, in a narrative I can only describe as a well-deserved tribute to the cult absurdist Czech horror: Little Otik.

I'm at Episode two, thanks to the joy that is that little red button, and I'm absolutely hooked. It's nice to see that Shearsmith and Pemberton are about to follow up League in similarly spectacular fashion, with a brilliantly written and performed piece I'm sure we'll be talking a lot about in the months and years to come. Bravo BBC2 for recognising the talent that makes me feel better about the licence fee.

Better than Series two of League? Give me a week or two. I'll get back to you on that one.

1 comment:

  1. Bit late (found your blog via the McSpaced link) but wasn't this great?

    My favourite episode was (I think 4) where they did the Hitchcock Pastiche.

    Great stuff.