Imagine the following people: A delusional birthing coach who thinks her toy baby is real and feeds it blood, a degenerate children’s entertainer who is missing a hand and always in a scary clown costume, a blind rich old man who is obsessed with collecting beanie babies, a mother and son who are perversely codependent and obsessed with serial killers, and a telekinetic dwarf who dabbled in porn. These are the people of Psychoville.
PsychovilleÂ starts off like the beginning of old fashioned mystery. Five people, who are seemingly unconnected, each receive an anonymous letter that says only one thing, “I know what you did.” Each time the characters react as if they are hiding a dark secret, but we have no idea what that secret may be!
All we know is that these people are connected by a devious past. The birthing coach, Joy (Dawn French), spends her time catering to her toy baby that she lovingly refers to as her “little Freddie fruitcake” and forces her husband to play along with the fantasy. The smoking, drinking, degenerate children’s entertainer Mr. Jelly (Reece Shearsmith) is at odds with another children’s entertainer called Mr. Jolly who keeps stealing his gigs and is supposedly responsible for his missing hand.Â The blind and rich Oscar Lomax (Steve Pemberton) is so dedicated to collecting stuffed toys that he sacrificed his eyes for a very rare toy. Mother and son Maureen and David Sowerbutts (Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. Yes, a dude is playing the mom) have a relationship that makes Norman Bate’s relationship with his mother look healthy. David is obsessed with serial killers and his mother is under the impression he actually killed someone. Robert Greenspan (Jason Tompkins) is a dwarf who is currently acting as “Blusher” in a play of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” and is hopelessly is love with the lead. He also has the power of telekinesis, which manifests itself when someone makes him angry.
What makes this show brilliant is that it plays out like a serious suspense story. The fact that all of these people are utterly deranged is not necessarily the focus. The focus is on their individual dramas (i.e. Lomax’s epic ebay battle for a plush toy), blackmail, and their mysterious pasts. The serious tone and atmosphere adds a wonderful contrast with the ridiculous nature of the characters, and that’s what makes it entertaining and deliciously demented. Joby Talbot is responsible for the original music in the show and I have to give Talbot special recognition because the music really helps setting the tone.
A lot of the humor ofÂ Psychoville comes from its subtlety. It’s the little things, like Mr. Jelly waking up with a huge ashtray filled with cigarette butts on his stomach, or the fact that his clown wig has a combover, or Joy replacing the blood in the blood bank with sports drinks, that really made me cackle. PsychovilleÂ is twisted, demented, dark, and hilarious.Â Pretty much, it’sÂ like an Agatha Christie story on crack.
Bottom Line:Â If you like dark humor, you will loveÂ Psychoville. I definitely give it a thumbs, or detachable hook, up.
Psychoville was created and written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton and originally aired in the UK and is now showing Tuesdays 10:30 EST on FEARnet.