TV Review: Psychoville (2011) Episode Six [BBC iPlayer]

on Tuesday, June 14, 2011
'Psychoville' Series Two: 'Episode Six' // Words: Saam Das

SYNOPSIS: Surreal comedy series. The secret of the missing locket is finally exposed and the enormity of what is at stake revealed. But are there enough characters left alive to care?

"All I wanted to do is to come to London to sell a dead Nazi's head but no, it has to be brought back to life first. Nothing's ever straightforward, is it?" Not in the wonderfully twisted world of 'Psychoville' it isn't. But in the finale to the second series, (pretty much) everything came together in a satisfying fashion.

Whereas the first series had fantasy elements, this episode firmly demonstrated the sci-fi leanings of the second series - albeit with a throwback to the fantasy of the first series. We discover the importance of the locket and how both series have been building up to the practice of bringing the dead back to life. Heavy stuff.

However, one of the greatest strengths of 'Psychoville' has been to successfully juxtapose serious drama and humour - 'Episode Six' proved no exception. There was a particular sense of joy seeing the elderly Vilma Hollingberry unexpectedly delivering pop culture references, with a face painted as a ladybird all the while.

It was nice to see a happy ending for David Sowerbutts (Steve Pemberton) - the serial killer who has proved surprisingly sympathetic since the very first episode of 'Psychoville' back in 2009. It was also pleasing to see Imelda Staunton finally get a chance to exhibit her fine acting skills as the pantomime villain, while the comeuppance of another character has been long awaited.

I have regularly praised the writing but the acting throughout the series has also been superb - Shearsmith and Pemberton's ability to play multiple characters has been a massive positive, as opposed to a novelty gimmick. The supporting cast have regularly turned in impressive performances too - for example, Sarah Solemani was unrecognisable from her BBC3 series 'Him & Her' and Mark Bonnar has consistently been menacing as Detective Finney.

The ending to this series finale hinted both at the return of 'Psychoville' as well as one of the series' most central characters. Both would be welcomed. But the fact that the BBC inexplicably moved the series finale from its regular timeslot suggests that this might be the end of the road. Which would be a real shame as 'Psychoville' has solidified its reputation as one of the shining highlights of recent British television.

Watch 'Episode Six' on BBC iPlayer until 23:49, 16 June '11. Purchase Series Two (or both series) on DVD/Blu-Ray from

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