May 25

MASSIVE SPOLIERS!!!!

When it comes to TV shows from the UK I couldn’t be more enthusiastic, excited and interested. I will tell anyone that comes within hearing distance how great so and so is and why they should watch it. I am a fan of The Office (UK), Some Mother’s do ‘ave em, Benidorm, Dad’s Army, The Inbetweeners, Allo Allo, Shameless, The League of Gentlemen and more. I love shows from the UK as often they blend genres and can be difficult to label which is probably one of the best things about them. Comedy is paired up with mystery, drama with horror and no matter how ridiculous things might seem to get reality never loses its presence, appearing in the form of a character, a situation, a line of dialogue or a shitty ending. And the “shitty ending” is something we have perfected. It’s all very well that they get married, have babies and live happily ever after but what happens after that? You get stretch marks, old, possibly in debt and then your partner of 40 years (if you haven’t got divorced) who used to pick his nose and scratch his arse dies. That doesn’t mean that you didn’t love your husband or have many great memories. It’s just that life happens and it isn’t exactly a Hollywood “rom-com”.

Now, as I mentioned before, I am fan of “The League of Gentlemen”. I love the weirdness of it. Apart from Benjamin was there actually a normal person in Royston Vasey? As sure as I am that there is some truth in the show as I can very believe there is a “Pauline” out there somewhere, characters like “Edward and Tubbs” or “Papa Lazarou”, however repulsive or frightening, are extreme and impossible to relate to and despite being funny it creates a distance between you and the characters. Royston Vasey is this bubble of bizarre-ness that can never hurt us as it is contained in one location. I think “The League” lived up to it’s label of being “dark” which is what appealed to me and maybe put other people off.

Psychoville, created by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton who made up half of “The League”, has also been labelled as “dark” and “disturbing” but in this case I have to disagree. There are definitely elements of “creepy” and “sinister” but “disturbing” is ridiculous and in every review I have read about this show these words crop up time and time again becoming some tired, boring and repetitive clichés. As I will explain later, the characters in Psychoville are odd, yes, and one is particularly weird but I have yet to find anything “disturbing” in it! I mean, the definition of “disturbing” is to make you feel troubled mentally or emotionally. Well, if people feel that way after watching an episode of Psychoville then what the fuck are the “Saw” movies?! People pay to watch and enjoy a movie showing people getting horrifically tortured in the most gory and graphic way but an old recluse who collects Beanie toys and a miserable clown who is in a feud with a fellow clown are “disturbing”. Either the people that write the majority of these reviews are big babies or they just need to open up a word document, type in “disturbing”, right click on the word and find a synonym for it! So, the whole point of this paragraph is just to say that unlike all the other dross I’ve read I won’t be using the words “dark” or “disturbing” in my review of Psychoville because 1) it’s boring and 2) I don’t agree that it is those things.

So, onto my review now. As far as I’m concerned, Psychoville is one of the best TV shows to come out of the UK for a while. And before some idiot jumps down my throat, that is just my opinion. The characters are engaging, funny, creepy and I see them as exaggerated forms of people who could genuinely exist. Not only that, but there is a wonderful mystery plot arc that takes you through the entire first series which is something you never really saw in “The League” series. Also, psychoville weaves many different genres together effortlessly, using comedy, horror, mystery, drama and even possibly the thriller genre to create a constant change in mood throughout each episode. For me, this works as things are never too heavy or too light for too long.

For the main plot of the first series, there is a element of mystery. It concerns a bunch of seemingly unrelated strangers who each receives a letter saying simply “I know what you did”. On the road to discovering what exactly it is they have all done and who the blackmailer is there are plenty of misunderstandings, murders and confusion before all is finally revealed at the end. Well, not “all” is revealed at the end but the identity of the blackmailer is as well as how all the characters are connected. However, a new mystery is created which is now being explored through the second series.

To go into more detail, each of the characters who receive letters are all ex-patients of Ravenhill hospital, each there for their own reasons (which I will discuss later) who all took part in the killing of the evil nurse Edwina Kenchington. The blackmailer is in fact her son, who is revealed to be Mr. Jolly, the clown who Mr. Jelly has been in a feud with. In revenge for his mother’s death he has brought all the characters there (apart from David and Robert who have their own problems!) in order to kill them. However, Kenchington suddenly appears alive and well and begins asking them about her locket which she believes one of them has after it was stolen. We know that Robert has it but he isn’t there leaving them all in the shit basically! Before she can do anything else though, Jolly reveals that he is wearing a bomb which goes off leaving us knowing that only David and Robert are definitely alive. There were many complaints and bad reviews about the series finale about the open ending but I think it really worked and enjoyed it. We found out who the blackmailer was, we found out how all the characters knew each other, there was just a new mystery created. If there hadn’t have been a second series I still think it would have been a great ending. What is life without a little mystery?

After series one there was a Halloween special which I loved. Filled with ghost stories about Mr. Jelly, Joy and Oscar Lomax, it really was a “treat”! It also created a seperate story that occurs just before Kenchington appears in the series one finale which added some depth to the history of Ravenhill as Drew tells Phil, a location scount for a new ghost-hunting show, about his experiences with Kenchington when he was a child when he stole her locket and how she tried to punish him for it which has traumatised him for 13 or so years.

The second series, which isn’t yet over, explores the secret behind the locket and how Detective Finney is prepared to kill anyone that gets in his way in his search for it. After murdering both Joy and Robert (who gave his friend Debbie the locket) he then killed Oscar Lomax. I still have not got over that one.

The great thing about the plot in both series is that it develops in a really intriguing way. The letters and tapes cause David to confront his past,  lead Oscar Lomax to Snappy the crocodile, the last Beanie needed for his collection, causes Mr. Jelly to finally confront Mr. Jolly and (slightly!) overcome their rivalry and it is Joy’s obsession with Freddy, her “baby”, that finally brings her back to Ravenhill.

Aside from the plot I personally think that the characters in Psychoville are incredibly special and over time I have become very attached to them. This caused a lot of problems when they started getting killed off! (Oscar… *sniff*).

David Sowerbutts is a very simple man who must be around 40 who still lives with his mum and seems incapable of keeping a job because, well, he is simple. He has a morbid obsession with serial killers, often asking him mum to test him either on serial killers themselves or on their methods. After failing at his job as the butler in a murder mystery evening by creating a far more grisly murder than planned and writing “Fuck pig” on the wall in his own poo (I’m laughing just thinking of it now!)  he comes home and tells him mum, whilst covered in (fake!) blood and carrying a huge knife that he “done a bad murder”. His mother, Maureen, who enjoys playing her Bontempi keyboard in her free time, thinks that he has actually killed someone and asks him to tell her if anyone saw him. He shows her the pictures of his colleagues of the murder mystery evening and they both start killing them off one by one. Eventually, after killing them all apart from one, Maureen tries to kill herself and then David only to find that he has left the apartment. In the second series, David finds out that Maureen, who survived her suicide attempt, has cancer and he tries to take care of her as best he can. After receiving another note saying they know what he did, they try to kill the last remaining member of the murder mystery evening, Robin, as they believe it is him who sent the note, by putting peanuts in his Angel Delight after he says he is allergic. Unfortunately, it just causes him to have chronic diarrhea and he leaves after David confesses to Maureen that she has cancer.

I really have a soft spot for David as, despite his creepy love of serial killers, he seems so sweet and innocent, even telling his mum at one point that he doesn’t want to kill anymore. He is troubled after accidentally killing his dad. He put 30 odd sleeping tablets in his dad’s “smash” to help him sleep and obviously he never woke up! This is what put David at Ravenhill in the first place where he met the other characters and played his part in the death of Kenchington. One of the creepiest things about David and Maureen are the subtle undertones of incest. In the first episode of the first series, Maureen is not only scratching his back to pieces (she asks him to being a dustpan and brush as she had “half of your back between my legs”… Ewwww…) but she then starts become aroused when David brushes all of his skin off of her thighs (God, this sounds gross just writing it) and then offers to tuck David’s T-shirt in and whilst doing so gives him a fondle before they then share a goodbye kiss that was bad enough being on the lips but lasted a good 2 seconds too long!

The thing about David and Maureen is that they are just so incredibly funny! There are so many scenes I could mention here, such as Maureen asking their murder victim Graham if he is ok with being drowned as she doesn’t want to use a drill on him as she has a “stinking headache”, or the scene where Maureen answers the phone to the blackmailer only to piss about trying to find a pen whilst he desperately tries to leave the message, “You killed her”. In series 1, episode 4 there is a brilliant homage to Hitchcock’s “Rope”, with David and Maureen murdering their next victim and hiding him in the chest in the middle of the lounge! There were also the most amazingly funny scenes within this episode. I think I actually cried as the “Psycho” soundtrack played in the background during the strangulation of David and Maureen’s third victim, only to find that the music actually came from the radio! Also, I loved the moment when David crept up behind “Chief Inspector Griffin” with a plate of hobnobs and knife in the air only for the cuckoo clock to go off and for Griffin to turn around and see David frozen behind him still with the knife raised above his head! Finally, I admit I cried again with laughter when David and Maureen tried to move the body from the chest before Griffin returns from the toilet and Maureen says “we’ll be alright as long as he washes his hands”… they then hear footsteps and she says “Dirty pig!”

I love the relationship between Maureen and David. She clearly wants to look after him but clearly takes things too far, such as chewing up his sausages for him, spitting it back out and then giving it back to him to eat! She agrees to murder David’s colleagues from the murder mystery evening thinking to protect him, which however creepy, is actually kind of sweet. I love everything about David. I’ve always rooted for the underdog and I really don’t want anything to happen to him! I feel like I’d like to look after him! And I would PAY to hear his singing! I’m very say to hear that Maureen has cancer. And finally, about Maureen, I don’t think my sides have stopped hurting yet after seeing her rendition of Tina Turner!

Superman!

Another one of the main characters is Mr. Jelly.  I don’t know if it’s even possible to explain all the reasons why he is a fantastic creation. He is miserable, rude, surly and anti-social. Not the best attributes for a childrens entertainer! As far as memorable scenes go, every scene that includes him his incredible! I loved his fight with Mr. Jolly in the play area, especially when they were sliding down the wiggly slide swinging for each other! At first though, as much as you love him, he seems like, well, a bastard really. It’s only when you realise that he actually used to be a a nice, happy, friendly clown who was great with kids until Mr. Jolly, who was a surgeon, fucked up his operation for a repetitive strain injury leaving him without a hand and then proceeded to steal all of Mr. Jelly’s tricks. He’s the bastard! Anyway, one of my favourite scenes is when he has to perform in an old people’s home and ends up handcuffed to an old lady after being distracted by an old man who constantly repeats “wipe my bum” until he threatens to wipe the guy’s arse with his hook! He has to leave with the lady still attached to him and at some point she then needs the toilet and tries to go whilst still attached to Jelly before collapsing as she is diabetic, leaving Jelly on the floor with an old lady with her knickers round her ankles and a boy with his hand down his pocket trying to get a pound in exchange for his chocolate bar when the cleaner enters the room! As series 2 hasn’t yet ended I seriously hope that Jelly is not going to be killed off or I will be seriously devasted! Despite Jelly’s grumpy nature, he does has a sweet and caring side! In the second episode of the second series it appears that he is still in contact with the old lady he got handcuffed to and she goes around with him doing tricks. When he drops her off he asks her if she is “alright going back in?” Maybe he is mellowing a bit?

Mr Jelly

There are many others fantastic characters in the series but this post will be far too long if I go into immense detail for each one so for the rest I am going to summarise:

We have Oscar Lomax and his aid Michael Fry, aka Tea Leaf. Lomax is an old, blind (as he has no eyes!) recluse who has spent his life collecting Beanie toys, or as he prefers to call them, “commodities”. For the first series we see him on his mission to get the last commodity to complete his collection, “Snappy the crocodile”. Despite their relationship at the start, where Michael seems irritated by Lomax, their quest for Snappy actually leads them to a friendship with Michael even double-crossing the gruesome Crabtree sisters to ensure that he is able to collect Snappy the crocodile for him. Lomax finds Michael at Ravenhill, as the blackmailer had Snappy there, and once he finally has Snappy he then throws him away, explaining how he was originally at Ravenhill after becoming depressed from having everything which pisses Michael off no end! In the second series Lomax is murdered by the pyschotic Det. Finney which, as I mentioned before, I have NOT got over and I am incredibly sad about…. sniffle…..

Lomax and Tea Leaf

There is also Joy Aston, the creepy midwife who is eerily attached to her plastic baby, Freddy. She was at Ravenhill because she lost a child and looking after a doll was part of her therapy which clearly made things worse! She is definitely the character that is the most scary, making her husband George kiss it and pretend to change his nappy when he is obviously upset about it. One of the worst scenes is when she goes into the blood bank at the hospital where she works and swaps the blood for Vimto after pouring the blood into a bottle and calling it Freddy’s “medicine”. She is the first victim of Det. Finney, which I wasn’t particularly sad about! I mean, she killed Nicola, who George was having an affair with, after performing a blood transfusion where Nicola lost all her blood and Freddy, the PLASTIC baby, gained it all with it dripping out of his eyes and belly! (EWWWWW!) Not to forget she has kind of kidnapped Jennifer, the old aid of Lomax who is now in a completely catatonic state.

Joy Aston and "Freddy Fruitcake"

We also have Robert, a dwarf who is working as part of the Snow White pantomime and believes he has special powers which is the reason that he had to go to Ravenhill. After being humiliated by other cast members strange accidents begin to happen. Unfortunately, when he finally realises that it isn’t him who has powers but his friend Kerry, he is then kidnapped by her, locked up so she can perform a love spell and make him love her, and when he finally escapes he is murdered by Det. Finney. That isn’t before he gives the locket to his stupid friend Debbie. So, perhaps she is the next victim? I don’t know. But it better not be fucking Mr. jelly!

Robert and Debbie

For new characters, we have Andrews, played by the fantastic Imelda Staunton. Her and her henchman seem very interested in the locket although her reasons are so far unknown. I love everything about her character. Even though she has small scenes, she often seems to steal the show with lines such as “I want to be like Judy Dench, doing this (hand movements) on a screen. Can you do that Kevin” after seeing all the important paperwork spread out in a mess across her desk.

Detective Finney is also an interesting character. To be honest, we don’t really know who he is at the moment yet. He is very interested in finding the locket and will kill anyone that doesn’t know anything about it. Well, actually, he seems to kill people without a reason. Including Lomax. I HATE HIM!

We also have Jeremy Goode, the freaky librarian who seems to have some sort of a breakdown when a book is not returned to the library on time. As he becomes more obsessed over it, he is haunted by the “Silent Singer”. Some scary looking person-thing that jerks its body to music we cannot hear and sings, well, silently. The “Silent Singer” is amazing as it is not only hilarious but also scary at the same time so I never really know whether to laugh at it or look away! In the third episode of the second series he takes things so far in his need for the missing book, “50 great coastal walks of the British Isles Vol 2″ that he climbs in the window of the house of the woman who hasn’t returned the book and terrorises her daughter telling her that she should find it or he shall ask the jabberwocky to go in her room and find it for her! :-/

Not now Silent Singer!

Finally, there is Hattie, a woman who has agreed to marry her male friends boyfriend in order to prevent him from being deported to Iran. From the reviews I’ve read, Hattie doesn’t seem to be a very popular character but I think she’s great! In last weeks episode, she was touching herself in bed next to her new husband to “consummate” the marriage which not only freaked out her “husband” but me. I mean, can you imagine being that poor guy and marrying a woman in order to stay with the guy you love only to realise that the woman you have married is determined not to let you go. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.

Anyway, to conclude this incredibly long post I think Pyschoville works because it is kind of an exaggeration of real-life events. The characters can be ridiculous and unbelievable but each of them had a genuine mental issue that caused them to go to Ravenhill in the first place. Joy Aston lost her son, Lomax was severely depressed and David was obviously troubled after accidentally murdering his dad. Also, there are actually some sad and poignant moments in the series. One of which being when David confesses to his mum that she has cancer. Of course, the silence is interrupted by a fart but still, the emotions are there. One of the saddest though is when Joy gives her “Freddy” to her poor husband George and tells him he needs to change his nappy. After George agrees, obviously to humour Joy, he leaves the room cradling the baby but once he has left the room as he is walking away he drops “Freddy”, holding him only by the leg. He looks so sad and lonely. I find it really sad.

I am really glad that I didn’t let my hesistation over Psychoville stop me from watching this fantastic show, which in my opinion is beyond under-rated and was clearly not promoted enough, presumably because it isn’t like every other mainstream comedy out there and isn’t afraid to take risks. In my opinion, Pyschoville is even better than The League of Gentlemen as the characters are more rounded and have more real-life attributes/traits/emotions so you can relate to them in some way and grow an attachment to them compared to the more flat characters in The League. Also, the story is no longer centered on one fictional isolated town, but is spread across real cities in England that people have been to or live in, so again it is easier to relate to. Not only that, but the mysterious plot arc adds something deeper to the show that The League just didn’t have, being a sketch show.

Aside from that, I have read some bad reviews, mainly from the critics, whereas reviews I have read from the general public on their own blog e.t.c is a lot more positive. It just makes me think what a load of old bollocks critics are. No matter what they say, how people feel about film, TV, books e.t.c will always be different whoever you talk to as it’s all subjective, so frankly I don’t give a fuck whether you have a degree or not or whatever your job is, I think you just need to watch it and make up your own mind. And another thing about the bad reviews. I read a review online about Psychoville’s Halloween Special from The Independant and it was shocking the mistakes that were made in it. The reviewer refers to Mr. Jelly as Mr. Jolly, which perhaps could have been as a joke or a slight to the show, but as it isn’t clear which I can only guess it is a mistake which is a pretty fucking bad mistake to make as the name confusion is a huge joke within the show because of the feud between Jelly and Jolly! Also, he then talked about fans probably having a grumble over the continiuity of the narrative as in the first series Joy is the one bossing George around and yet in the special George is the one bossing Joy around and being unpleasant! Well, I’m wondering if the guy actually watched the Halloween Special, as right after the story of Joy and George, Drew discredits Phil’s story, asking him which one of his researches got the story as it is incorrect! Was he not paying attention?!! Here is the review.

Well, just to finish I have to say that this show is incredible, everyone should watch, it’s better than “The League of Gentlemen” and if the BBC don’t allow a third series it will be an absolute fucking travesty! So BBC, sort it out!