TV Review: Psychoville, BBC Two, Thursday 25 June, 9.30pm

There’s not much comedy that Mof and I agree on… see the Boosh break-up post for a prime example. But Psychoville, here’s something we can agree on. Sure, I don’t howl with laughter for a full half hour, but this show is aiming for something else…

Related: TV Review – Psychoville Episode One

Unlike a lot of comedies nowadays, this sitcom is truly plot-driven. There are nice little vignettes here and there of course, but episodes don’t really stand alone – they’re all part of one wider storyline. A storyline that we’re barely any nearer to getting a handle on than we were at the beginning of last week’s opener, I should add.

Then there’s the fact that Psychoville is one of the best looking shows on television at the moment – and presumably this has been achieved on a moderate budget. The way one scene leads into the next is beautiful, and the way it’s shot gives it a weird, off-kilter feel that is of course just right for the subject matter. The care and thought that has gone into the series is evident on screen then, but also in the little extras that are strewn across the internet… Thanks to the sites created you can book Mr Jelly, See Lomax’s commodities, and even sample a bit of the Midget Gems back catalogue?

As for that plot, Lomax is after the one Beanie Bear that he has yet to add to his collection – Snappy the crocodile. He fights over the only one in existence on ebay with ‘the Crabtree SIsters’ – a pair of twins so hideous and fairytale-like that they wouldn’t seem out of place in a Lewis Carroll novel or Tim Burton film (or, as is soon to be the case, both). Alas, the seller notes the fact that what they see as a bit of trash is attracting surprisingly high bids – and pulls the item at the last second. What has this to do with anything else going on in the show? No idea at all.

Elsewhere, Joy is still sadly deluded about Freddie the doll, but more disturbing she’s replacing blood banks with cut-price ribena… plus, David’s mum Maureen believes he is actually a murderer (but doesn’t hold it against him, in fact, she plots with him to murder the policeman she thinks knows about the crime), Robert continues to be mocked by other members of the Snow White cast, and they’ve all received a second message: ‘you killed her’.

Darkness runs throughout this show, but it’s beautifully balanced – most of the really disturbing scenes end with a lighter, throwaway line to mean it never tips over into something genuinely uncomfortable. Overall, it’s something to be savoured.

[written by Anna Lowman]

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