‘Psychoville’: Series 2 Episode 6 review

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Last time, we were discussing the logic and challenge of producing a sitcom that has more sit than com. In this, the final episode of Psychoville’s second series, that trend continues. However, despite the lack of underlined one liners, it all manages to be significantly more laugh-out-loud hilarious than many other more obvious comedies you can find onscreen this month.

Shunted around the schedules at the last minute, it’s clear that the BBC still doesn’t quite know what to make of it (hunt it down on iPlayer and you’ll see that ‘Similar Recommendations’ include Caroline Quentin’s trad-com Life Of Riley). But what’s most appealing about Psychoville is that it never allows itself to be complacent. Scripted to within an inch of its life; not a line is wasted, there’s no flab or excess, and every word is very well earned.

With Mrs Ladybird Face thinking it’s all a movie – and not a particularly good one at that – ‘It’s a rip-off’, she sniffs, with only the hint of a tip and a wink to the multitudes of sources and inspirations that influence the script. Indeed, as the main plot gets resolved, Imelda Staunton’s character invokes a most iconic line from a very classic horror film. (It’s worth noting that Staunton herself has been down the sitcom route herself, but that Up The Garden Path managed to rise above the usual fare and even had some moments of surreal darkness.) As for that resolution – you might have been correct in your guess, but not exactly in the right way. The major MacGuffin is just that, an irrelevance, but quite literally linked to something else more important.

Mr Jelly gets the best line, declaring acknowledgement of how ridiculous it all is – ‘All I wanted to do was come to London to sell a dead Nazi’s head. But, no. It has to be brought back to life first. It’s never straightforward, is it?’ – while Mrs Sowerbutts manages to claim one final victim.

All in all, the episode is a very pleasing resolution to the series, coughing up a few more questions while closing the link on most answers. Rumour is that this might be the final series, which would certainly leave the audience wanting more. But here’s a suggestion: Psychoville, in theme, dialogue, characters, and, simply, camerawork, has always had delusions of cinematic grandeur. We can envision a film of tightly plotted humour and grace – and with Jeremy Goode saving the world, there’s no reason to think that we’ll end up with an Apocalypse.

Airs at 10pm on Monday 6th June 2011 on BBC Two.