SYNOPSIS: "Comedy series. Mr Lomax reveals more about his past and his hatred for Tony Hancock becomes clear. Meanwhile Mr Jelly arrives at a booking meant to be for Mr Jolly." (bbc.co.uk)
I guess it had to happen eventually but 'Psychoville' finally took a (rather severe) dip in form thanks to 'Episode Three' of the new series. At best, I might say that it was treading water but that's being unduly kind. The wit was replaced by cringeworthy attempts at humour, while what could have been a pivotal twist was all but thrown away instantly.
The signs were there from the beginning of the episode with Imelda Staunton's line about stoning while partaking in a shady discussion with an Arab counterpart. Things would only get worse with the more central focus on Hattie (Steve Pemberton) and her attempts to consummate her arranged "marriage" with Shahrouz (Elyes Gabel).
I haven't particularly taken to Hattie (barring the Martine McCutcheon brilliance of the previous episode) or really any of the new characters, to be honest. I find myself pining for more screen time from the familiar characters of the previous series. This is proving to be a continual problem as each episode is killing off an older character, and almost by default, concentrating matters on the newer characters. Without actually making them relevant. Me no likey.
The only new character that actually interests me is Reece Shearsmith's unhinged librarian, who also provides a welcome creepiness factor - as long as it remains in moderation, as it has done thus far. Yet in this episode, even he was overshadowed by the Hitchcockian return of a character from the first series - the slow process of tying up loose strings has begun already.
The problem is, aside from that character's return, the older and newer strands still feel mutually exclusive. This episode could have done more to further the plotlines, perhaps hinting at the significance of the missing library book or integrating the mysteries of the locket. As opposed to Mr Jelly (Shearsmith) fannying around in a countryside mansion and an Oscar Lomax (Pemberton) "bombshell" which proved irrelevant within minutes.
I have a great deal of confidence that 'Psychoville' will bounce back in the next episode but 'Episode Three' felt like it missed the boat. But also tripped up and fell into the water.
Watch 'Episode Three' on BBC iPlayer until 22:29, Tuesday 21 June '11.