I like comedy. I watch a lot of it, maybe too much – Clive Anderson says that if you become too knowledgeable on any subject you can no longer enjoy it at it’s most basic level. This could be true, I can’t imagine Jancis Robinson off her face.
Half of the League of Gentlemen, are now half-way through Psychoville. I watched the first episode thinking ‘This is just Royston Vasey’s twin town’, but I persevered.
The characters played by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have some of the traits of the LOG ensemble, but are still sufficiently original to suprise and, of course, shock. And shock is the schtick of the LOG boys. I mean, what’s not to love about an incestuous Mother and Son serial killing team? Or a lovestruck former-pornstar dwarf with telekentic powers. Perhaps you’d prefer a deeply bitter clown who’s act consists of interchangeable attachments on the ‘red raw stump’ where his hand used to be. Or spookiest of all, the evil midwife convinced that her ante natal doll, her little ‘Freddie Fruitcake’ can come to life if she keeps feeding it the blood she steals from the hospital. It’s comedy-noir in spades, so what’s different to LOG?
The League of Gentlemen was a series of losely linked sketches. By the time the third series came around, the attempt to link the scenes had become over-contrived. Psychoville is a stronger, more coherent story employing a broader cast and deeper back-story. The underpinning is that all of the core characters were in the same institution and whilst there a woman died. Each of the characters is now being blackmailed by someone who ‘Knows what they did!’
To broaden the off-screen experience, each character has their own web site. The fourth episode is a two-hander that was return to get an extra episode’s worth of funding whilst keeping product costs minimal. A good one as it’s themed around JB Priestley’s play ‘An Inspector Calls’ with a cameo from Mark Gatiss, appearing under one of his pseudonyms – Sam Kisgart. It’s also filmed like Hitchcock’s ‘The Rope’ in one shot – well, two, but I challenge you to spot the join.
I highly recommend Psychoville, but it’s not for the faint hearted.