9 reasons why ‘Inside No. 9’ lives up to the hype

9 reasons why ‘Inside No. 9’ lives up to the hype

That old saying “don’t believe the hype” is proven wrong with “Inside No. 9.”

This acclaimed anthology series, now available on BritBox — which streams British TV shows in the US — mixes horror, comedy, camp and pathos; the standalone episodes are linked, in some way, shape or form, by the number 9. The series, which airs on BBC Two in England, is still going strong after five seasons — and, because of the way “Inside No. 9” is structured, you can watch the episodes out of order, if you’re so inclined. It really doesn’t matter.

The series was created by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, who co-created the hit British sketch-comedy series “The League of Gentlemen” and bring that same sense of offbeat, bizarre humor, cut with a devilish razor’s edge, to “Inside No. 9.” They also co-star in the series (in roles of varying intensity) and adhere to that British comedic custom of often acting in drag. Think of the series as a cross between “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “The Twilight Zone,” and you’ll have a point of reference from which to start.

It’s worth mentioning that the episodes I watched were so tonally different from each other — one mixing horror and over-the-top comedy, the other a dramatic slice-of-life — that I felt like I was watching two different TV series. And that, I think, is the key to the show’s success.

"Inside No. 9."
“Inside No. 9.”BBC / Sophie Mutevelian

In the episode entitled “Death Be Not Proud,” Pemberton stars as Dave, a psychotic mama’s boy in the “Psycho” mold of Norman Bates. He and his mother shared a really close relationship — bonding over their love of serial killers and line dancing — and lived in Apartment 9, which is now occupied by young married couple Beattie (Jenna Coleman, “Victoria,” “Doctor Who”) and Sam (Kadiff Kirwan).

They’re aware that a grisly murder occurred before they moved in — something about a dismembered body in the bathtub — and when weird things start to happen (three minutes into the episode), Beattie reaches out to David to learn a bit more about the apartment’s history. Wrong call … but it’s handled with a heaping dose of black humor and several sight gags that bring this dangerously close to a bedroom farce (in a good way).

Pemberton also stars in “Love’s Great Adventure,” as Trevor, a working-class father whose estranged, drug-addicted son returns at Christmas time, throwing the entire household — including Trevor’s wife, Julia (Debbie Rush) and his teenaged daughter, Mia (Gaby French) — into an emotional tizzy that doesn’t quite resolve itself in any absolute sense. It’s sweet and sour and is a complete 180 from “Death Be Not Proud,” with Pemberton flexing some serious acting chops.

All five seasons of “Inside No. 9” are available on BritBox. Check it out.

Latest Category Posts




You May Also Read