Friday, June 19, 2009

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Last night I watched Psychoville, the new BBC2 comedy written by Steve Pemberton and Reese Shearsmith (who wrote and started and the League of Gentlemen too) and it was, for want of a more pithy phrase, bloody brilliant. So much so I even risked hitting the red button (something which usually result in a system crash - and did, but it recovered quickly enough so I only missed about two minutes), and watched the second episode immediately.

The show is part mystery thriller as well as comedy, with a series of weird and wonderful characters receiving letters from an anonymous, faceless individual who claimed, 'I know what you did'.

In receiving these letters we saw the day to day lives of the characters - Mr Jelly the terrible clown with a missing hand (he claimed was caused by rival Mr Jolly), and this was used for a quite brilliant joke of a mother paying him for his (terrible) performance at her daughter's party by placing the money in his fake hand and passing it to him through the door (after he had been kicked out) with the pay off "as agreed, cash in hand". There was also a blind man obsessed with teddies (and a hilarious eBay bidding war to win a legendary toy alligator), a dwarf with weird powers and many more. You can read about them all here or here.

The humour was mined careful, not letting a good joke pass by, but not over doing it, which in turn allowed the engrossing, mysterious story to tick along as each scene played out. Not only this but the production levels were immaculate too. The attention to detail was perfect, the colour tints spot on, and little touches like the style and sound of handwriting that appeared on the screen to introduce the location of each character done with a panache rarely seen.

It's refreshing to see such a well constructed, thoughtful and engrossing story that, has so far, managed to mix a balance of humour and plot without one compromising the other. The very best shows manage to do this, such as Arrested Development, and I'm hopeful this show will continue as strongly as it has in its first two outings.


Jon Severs said...

what a very measured review Daniel. Worthy of the Spectator. no less. More swear words and a bit of liberal custard if you want it in the Gaurdian. HA.

Dan W said...

Why thank you Jonathan. How ever so delightful of you to say so.

Chris said...

Just watched EP1 on iPlayer....

Psychoville is creepy, dark, funny, clever and brilliant. As a fan of TLOG, I connected straight away with this. I just hope they continue the high standard.

Also have you checked out the internet stuff. There is a good video on the BBC site about it all.