Warning: this review contains spoilers.
A depressing fact for you: several times more people watched the dark lord of reality TV Simon Cowell make his swaggering return to Britain’s Got Talent the other week than the entirety of Psychoville series two to date. By episode three, Psychoville’s audience had dropped to a pitiful 661,000 – a poor showing for what has, if anything, been a more consistently amusing series than the first. And as a final, unjust piece of scheduling, the series finale has been displaced by Mock The Week from its usual Thursday night slot.
The lack of care and attention given to Psychoville is doubly depressing when you consider just how great tonight’s closing episode was. Where the finale of the last series floundered somewhat – leaving some viewers rather peeved, it has to be said – this one not only maintained the generally brilliant standard of season two, but in places exceeded it.
Among the late-hour twists and revelations, there were several moments of laugh-out-loud comedy. Imelda Staunton’s been reliably entertaining as the power-hungry Grace Andrews, but her character’s made only brief appearances in the series so far. Here, though, she’s given a better showing, and steals almost every scene she’s in. Whether she’s awkwardly attempting to explain away the fascist outbursts of a disembodied head, or screaming at a clown to stay away from her shiny new touchscreen television, she’s uniformly hilarious throughout.
As for those twists and revelations, they really came thick and fast this week. They’re so great, in fact, that I’m not going to talk about them in too much detail. It’s sufficient to say that I didn’t expect one apparently minor character to show up with some quite extraordinary powers of telekenesis, nor did I expect another one – who hasn’t been seen since the first episode of season two – to have such a pivotal part to play in Finney’s downfall.
Ah yes, Finney. The man who’s brought so much death and misery to the people of Psychoville. Following the horrible murder of Oscar Lomax, I’ve been quietly hoping that the icy finger of death might train itself on Finney, too, and this week I finally got my wish – and the unexpected, brilliant way this retribution was meted out was deliciously sweet, and suitably macabre.
David Sowerbutts has emerged as this episode’s hero, in fact, and is even given a love interest, which seems to have arrived out of nowhere.
There was, however, one particular loose end that left me a little dissatisfied. Despicable neo-Nazi toyshop owner Peter, who shot Tealeaf last week, was surely deserving of a similar come-uppance to the murderous Finney – yet oddly, none was forthcoming.
Then again, we can forgive Psychoville’s writers for not leaving absolutely everything cut and dried. After the complaints of there being rather too many dangling threads at the end of the last series, this concluding episode wrapped everything up in a far more satisfying fashion.
That Grace’s organisation was at the helm of a scientific plan to revive a frozen Nazi head had probably been guessed by many viewers some time ago, though most would probably never have guessed that it wasn’t the locket that was the focus of the antagonists’ attention, but the chain itself – a neat, welcome little twist.
It’s a relief, too, that in spite of signs earlier in the series that Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton were planning to kill off all their major characters one at a time, many of them have actually survived to see another series. There’s even an anvil heavy hint, as this final episode draws to a close, that the late Maureen Sowerbutts may be revived in the next series.
That is, of course, if a third series is given the go-ahead. It seems insane, at least to me, that comedy piffle such as My Family and Life Of Riley or even Britain’s Got Talent can draw in huge audiences, yet Psychoville, at least in this series, appears to have struggled to find a significant audience.
The black humour of Psychoville may exclude it from the kind of mass audiences those more mainstream sitcoms enjoy, but there’s no denying the quality of the writing and performing in this series of Psychoville. Not everyone will agree, but I’d warmly welcome a third series. After all, in what other TV will you see Ripperology-based romance, and its chief villain’s head explode in a shower of gore near its conclusion? Sadly, it’s not Britain’s Got Talent.
This was a brilliant end to a great second series of Psychoville. More, please.
Read our review of episode 5 here.
This final episode of Psychoville will air again on Thursday, 9th June on BBC Two at 11:20pm.