Psychoville Episode 1 Review

What can you say about a seriously freaky show that features the most grotesque characters, odd locations and distractions such as midgets, clowns, mystery, gore and serial murdering – other than “Has it got anything to do with The League of Gentlemen?”

Psychoville is the successor to the miscreant populace of Royston Vasey, brought to our screens by the talented pens of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, two thirds of the old League of Gentlemen team (Mark Gatiss has opted not to rejoin his former colleagues).

Joined by guest star Dawn French as a disturbed midwife and later in the series appearances from Christopher Biggins as himself, Psychoville centres around a group of apparently disparate and unwitting odd balls who are all the recipients of an old-fashioned, wax sealed letter with the words written in quill “I know what you did.”

This thin linking device takes us on a trip around the British Isles as we meet a dwarf with pyro-kinetic powers appearing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Bournemouth, a midwife with an unhealthy obsession with her demonstration baby and a blind millionaire with a secret stash of cuddly toys in his dark and dusty mansion.

Most memorable among all characters however was Mr Jelly, the obnoxious hook handed clown who lives a life of bitterness directed as children, their parents and his nemesis Mr Jolly in whose place he is often mistakenly booked. Mr Jelly blames Mr Jolly for his hook hand, and he just can’t get over it.

The children’s party is possibly as light as things get – but then they’re always torrid affairs – while the darkest point is certainly the terrible, early end to a murder mystery weekend.
Psychoville is not The League of Gentlemen. There’s no Mark Gatiss for starters, but Pemberton and Shearsmith have been shrewd in bringing in Dawn French as a third member of the cast.

Despite a quiet start, there’s enough in Psychoville to give us at least one very good series.

About the author

I'm Christian Cawley, a massive fan of UK fantasy television (particularly Doctor Who) and British Comedy.

"Quintessentially British" is my look at those two very British flavours of sci-fi/fantasy and comedy.
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