Psychoville: Where Can It Go From Here?

David A McIntee examines series two of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s surreal black comedy for clues to its future…

The Radio Times this week teased us by claiming that it would be “hard to see where Psychoville could go” after the second season finale, but that it hoped Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith would find a way.

It’s actually not that hard to see where the series could go from here – in many different directions, as it happens – though it is difficult to see where some of season two came from. Yes, the website videos tell us things like how Silent Singer came about – because when Pemberton and Shearsmith used to share a flat, one of them would do Silent Singer to distract the other when he was trying to work – but within the context of the series itself a lot of season two’s stuff doesn’t seem to really have flowed naturally from season one.

Take the whole business of the frozen Nazi head, for example. It just doesn’t feel like a natural outgrowth of the previous season, though it works within the season two arc. Likewise, Lomax turning out to be Tony Hancock was, while funny in the episode, a real non-sequitur. It didn’t tie in to the arc, and didn’t seem to relate to the character at all.

Not that any of this stopped the series being brilliant. Fabulous characters and ingenious story arcs still abounded, and the homages became more varied yet subtle. Well, subtle-ish, anyway; we are talking about a show who’s most recent episode alone drew on The Boys From Brazil, Scanners, and Invaders From Mars, to name but three really obvious ones.

Enough of the now-completed series two, though. Where could a third season go, now that so many of the characters were killed off? Are there enough characters and situations left?

Absolutely. Joy and Robert’s stories were done anyway, and, while Lomax and Tealeaf will be missed in any continuation, there are still enough characters left. David now has a girlfriend, so that opens a whole new dynamic to explore with him (and it’d be just about possible to work them into a loose connection to Chris Fowler’s early 90s novel Psychoville, in the same way Pirates Of The Caribbean 4 hooked up to Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides). Mr Jelly’s still around, and has his aged sidekick. Debbie is still alive, Jennifer could take a larger role, Jeremy Goode is still around…

This isn’t the place to go suggesting story ideas, but the final scene seems set up to imply that a third season could involve Maureen’s rather amateurishly-frozen body. It would also be interesting to see Jennifer developed further, whether towards being restored, or simply taking a more active role in her current condition, as she did when setting up Finney in the last episode. Debbie seems to attract trouble, and what are Kerry and her mother up to nowadays? Surely there would be parties interested in seeking out a proper Scanner, after what she did… These are all things that spring to mind as being threads that could tie straight in to a third season. So, come on Steve and Reece and BBC 2, what are you waiting for?

Far from least, surely the adventures of Mr Jelly and Mrs Ladybird-Face can’t stop here…?

Read our reviews of episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6.

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