Season 1, Halloween Special, Season 2
Spawned from half the team that brought the world ‘The League of Gentlemen’, Psychoville occupies a similarly-dark universe to the village of that show. Indeed, ‘Psychoville’ is named after the Japanese title of The League of Gentlemen. It’s a series written by and starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, each playing several different characters in this weird and sometimes wonderful show.
Season 1 occupies itself with a group of seemingly disparate characters whose stories slowly draw together as the series climaxes. There is a weird mass-murder-obsessed mother and son (the Sowerbutts); a troubled dwarf; a midwife who cares for a toy baby like it’s real; a blind millionaire dealer in toys who has dark secrets; and my favourite, a bitter and twisted one-handed clown called Mr Jelly who is vexed by a competitor called Mr Jolly.
Season 1 trundles along at a good pace, leading to the story of a shared, dark history of these characters. It starts with each getting a note saying “I know what you did.” It is very, very darkly funny and odd, and culminates in a semi-satisfying conclusion, and recommended to all people who like their comedy both weird and dark. If you liked the darker elements of Twin Peaks, say, you may like this.
The Halloween special is, to my mind, the best of this show. It takes the form of a set of short stories joined by a bigger strand, and these stories are classic horror tales – mysterious children; killer on the loose on a dark night; and a tale about transplanted eyes seeing more than they should. It also serves as a decent bridge between seasons 1 and 2.
Season 2 is slightly different. In this one, the main characters in the first start to get bumped off. There are new characters (one of them – a librarian – sees a weird dancing figure that is very reminiscent of the dancing dwarf in Twin Peaks), and the story is about a mysterious necklace, It’s a little baggier than the first series (there’s one major storyline involving a TV makeup woman called Hattie that adds virtually nothing to the main story – but it’s amusing nonetheless).
This is clearly a series for adults, and I’d say the best laughs come from Mr Jelly and the inappropriate behaviour and phrases of mother-and-son, the Sowerbutts.
REWATCHABILITY: Once or twice every 5 yearas. Suitable for adults only.