Last year, the BBC debuted Psychoville, a delicious new comedy-horror series by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, two of the madmen behind the League Of Gentlemen. Combining surrealism and outright psychosis, it became a cult success.
An unusually successful internet campaign for renewal followed, and Psychoville has returned, with a Halloween special just broadcast, and a new series to follow next year. So with the hum of geeky anticipation around it, can the new episode live up to expectations?
Genuine Insanity, Proper Jokes
With other series’ Halloween specials (Yes, X Factor, I mean you) paying homage by wearing plastic devil horns and using songs with “wicked” in the title, it’s good to see something on telly doing it properly. Psychoville kicks its horror/comedy pendulum in the scary direction, with a string of unsettling stories.
Don’t worry, there are still jokes. The section featuring Dawn French has darkly hilarious moments, and the TV segment director gets to skewer modern ‘spooky’ television rather efficiently.
So yes, watching this late at night is a great idea. You’ll laugh, but nervously. Like a proper seasonal special, it services its own characters but lets everybody join in. Fun for all the family, as long as they appreciate the humour in serial murder.
And Now: Fan Service
As a prior fan of the show, part of me was hoping they’d continue the story directly and give us resolution from last year’s cliffhanger. That doesn’t really happen, beyond a few hints, but I can’t fault them on their decision to make a proper stand-alone special instead. We do get a trailer for the next series at the end.
And relatedly, if you’re a newcomer to Psychoville, this is definitely a great introduction to the tone. However, as a fellow nerd who cares about such things, I should warn you that there are “spoilers” for the closing twists of the last year. Not extensive ones, but if you are determined to enjoy the show in a virginal, blissfully ignorant manner, buy the first series DVD now and watch it beforehand.
But first run to iPlayer and download the special now so it stays on your machine for a month. See, I’ve been making these tactical moves for a while. And for anyone who saw it, tell me what you thought in the comments below. Are you even more excited for that long-awaited new series? I know I am.