Picking the weakest episode of the Inside No 9 anthology series (BBC2, Wednesday) is easy. Creators and stars Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith have so rarely blundered over the years that the shortlist is extremely short.
Her own least favorite episode is Season 1’s “Last Gasp” from 2014. Second choice, by a very small margin, is Season 4’s “And the Winner is…”.
To be honest, after these two I can’t think of a single one Inside #9 it was anything but outstanding. This makes picking a best episode an impossible task.
Some sequels – like the devastating, spine-tingling “The 12 Days of Christine” – raise the bar so dizzyingly high you’ll think Pemberton and Shearsmith can’t possibly reach that level again.
Then they come a few years later with “Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room,” an episode that, while different in tone, style, and content, is just as moving and poignant.
Inside #9 is commonly referred to as “dark comedy” or “dark horror comedy”. It is both and much more.
Most anthology series tend to stick to one theme or genre. In the American classic of the 1960s The Outer Limits (currently showing Fridays on Talking Pictures TV) it was science fiction with lots of stories about scientists delving into things best left alone.
pole Twilight Zone Serling’s cult favorite of the 1970s night gallery — which, trivia fans, got Steven Spielberg his first-ever directing job — was limited to horror and contained staples as creepy as murderous dolls and paintings brought to life.
black mirror — who could learn a lot from in its bloated Netflix incarnation Inside #9‘s Brevity – focuses on the existential terror wrought by modern technology.
Inside No. 9, however, covers it all and jumps effortlessly between genres from episode to episode.
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It could be full of horror (“The Devil of Christmas” and the live Halloween special “Dead Line”), near-silent slapstick comedy (“A Quiet Night In”), psychological thriller (“Cold Comfort” and the very first episode, “Sardines”) or a tale of gruesome cruelty that lurks behind the respectable veneer of suburbia (“To Have and To Hold”).
A sixth-season episode last year called Wuthering Heist even gave us one reservoir dogsStyle history of robbery and fraud in the style of the Commedia dell’arte.
Probably nobody but Pemberton and Shearsmith would have tried such a combination – or pulled it off so brilliantly.
The episode that kicks off Season 7, “Merrily, Merrily,” is less elaborate than some of them, but it’s still a quiet classic and sort of a compendium of all the elements that make the series such an (often twisted) treat.
In keeping with a story about a reunion, the duo works with their elders League of Gentlemen Partner Mark Gatiss.
Lawrence (Shearsmith), a university lecturer, invites his old college friends, the snobbish doctor Callum (Gatiss) and the dopey, failed teacher Darren (Pemberton) to spend a day aboard a paddle boat (number 9, of course) on a lake spend.
Darren upsets the balance by bringing his cheeky, not-too-bright new girlfriend, Donna (Diane Morgan, who gets the funniest quips), who thinks they’re headed to a party on a yacht. But who is the hooded figure following her path from the shore?
The men haven’t spoken in 12 years. As they drift along, old resentments and truths surface, and everyone proves unhappy.
Lawrence feels his life has stalled. Callum, who has worked his way to the top of his profession, has realized he doesn’t want to be there. Darren is a wreck, divorced, estranged from his children and unable to keep a job.
As they bitch and argue, the boat gets caught in weeds and darkness, real and figurative, begins to sink.
Like many of the best episodes, this one starts as one thing and ends as something different and unexpected. There’s a sudden emotional gut punch and a late twist that may or may not push the story into supernatural waters.
This bar is currently still well out of reach of almost everything else on TV.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/latest-inside-no-9-sums-up-the-brilliance-of-the-series-41573109.html Latest Inside No 9 sums up the brilliance of the series