BBC2 / BBCHD - 16th and 23rd July 2009 -10.00pm
We're back to the regular series format for Episode Five after the giddy heights of the previous week's Hitchcock homage. Kicking off with the Astons returning from a night out and Joy desperate to get doll Freddy attached to her breast, this utterly bonkers series has us actually believing that Freddy really is alive. But more on that later. Bob asks the Crabtree sisters the questions that we all would like answered: 'How do you go to the toilet?' 'I assume each of you has your own anus?' Not something to ask in polite company whilst you're digging into a nice chocolate eclair.
There is a a wonderfully sick gag when Mr. Lomax spins an extremely heart-rending tale outside Ian's bedroom door in order to get him to talk and eventually hand over Snappy the Crocodile. Typically, Shearsmith and Pemberton weave a tale of Hamley's black mohair bears made in memory of all the children that drowned after the Titanic sank and Lomax's need to keep the inner child alive through his collection, all beautifully and mournfully scored by Joby Talbot, and then undercut it with Ian opening the door behind Lomax and in a thick brummie accent declare, 'I can't hear a word you're saying'.
After a brief catch up with the panto dwarves, which for me is the weakest of the sub-plots in the series, we're back to Joy Aston and little Freddy Fruitcake. He's started to call for his mum over the baby intercom and in a rather disturbing sequence, lit rather fantastically too, Joy goes to Freddy's room only to see her doll, animated and darting about the room. It's a wonderful play on Child's Play but also reminiscent of the TV movie Tales Of Terror where the iconic Karen Black is menaced by a rather savage voodoo doll. As Joy is bitten and then attacked, she yells, 'I think you need some Calpol!' The scene does rather get overworked with Freddy, riding a toy car and knocking Joy down the stairs. The boys have obviously been watching The Omen again.
Love the great visual joke of the nurse shrieking at the huge teddy bear seemingly walking down the ward towards her only for Robert to pop out from behind it on his visit to the comatose Debbie. There's a nice visual reference to the earlier mention of Biggins switching the Christmas lights on (and quite honestly the late Autumn would have been the ideal time to show this series. It seems odd that this is going out in July if you ask me) as Robert emulates the story of Sleeping Beauty and wakes Debbie up with a kiss and the lights go on with a cheer outside the window.
Whilst Joy deals with the murderous Freddy and we get that marvelous twist of George and Nicola plotting to bump her off (even though it's fudged slightly as to how Freddy actually becomes so animated), Jelly and Jolly get to sit in a car and do nothing more than give us exposition about Jolly working as a consultant in a psychiatric hospital (as revealed in the previous episode) and surprise, surprise that all the characters were inmates being cruelly treated by the evil Nurse Kenchington (Eileen Atkins in wonderfully severe form).
Despite this rather uninspiring revelation, the episode has one more moment of brilliance to offer up. David and Maureen have lured their next victim from Murder And Chips to a wax works and it is while David prepares to murder him that all the wax works of Haigh, Christie (Shearsmith doing a blindingly good version of Richard Attenborough as Christie from 10 Rillington Place) and Ellis come to life, take the piss out of each other and the actors who played them on screen and then proceed to do a musical number with Jack The Ripper as the leading man! It's breathtakingly left field, wonderfully performed and scored and a perfect summation of David's troubled little mind. David and Maureen wander off without killing their victim, Robin, it seems. Robin has an idea for a Murder And Chips evening where all the wax works come to life. Spookily, Jack tells him it's already been done.
By Episode Six, Joy is out for revenge against Nicola and George, both of whom have assumed she's died of heart failure after Freddy's attack. Lomax's associate, Tealeaf, has driven off with the Crabtree sisters in search of Snappy's owner. The tedious sub-plot with Robert and the panto drags on again, with Debbie now convinced Robert is her fiance, but it does provide us with a reinvigorating twist when Robert's friend Kerry reveals that it is she with the telekinetic powers and not him. It's the liveliest that plot has been through the entire series.
Better is the short scene in casualty when a distraught Joy, screaming that her baby's head has come off, is told by the Doctor, 'I'll get you a needle and thread.' And I love that whole sequence with Tealeaf and the Crabtree sisters in the van. In an attempt to steal the money Tealeaf...er...Michael Fry has to pretend to want to date Kelly Su. Chelsea is horrified, 'He's just interested in what's between your legs. All that filthy green stuff.' 'You are talking about the money, ain't you?'
This episode pretty much preoccupies itself with setting up the big reveal about who is the blackmailer and how they are connected to the characters' incarceration in Ravenhill. The writers try to keep us guessing over the blackmailer's identity - could it be Mr. Jolly, or Robert, or Nurse Kenchington (she might not be dead as we are led to assume)...and whilst all this is going on in a frenzy of quick cutting between the characters that's actually quite annoying here, Maureen's down at B&Q buying an indoor barbeque for the last of the Murder And Chips crowd. And she has a little moment of realisation when David's friend spells it out about his 'bad murder'.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jelly has been inadvertently handcuffed to a pensioner from a care home. Don't ask. He's returned home to discover his front door open and Mr. Jolly's body on the floor of the living room. He's been suffocated by a blue plastic bag. Watch out for the blue plastic bag. And are we sure it's really Mr. Jolly lying there? It's the episode's Macguffin. Whilst he and the pensioner hide from a man in black carving up Jolly's body, she regaling him of stories about vibrators, back at the theatre the panto turns into a moment from Carrie as Kerry reveals that it was her wot dunnit. She does a splendid Sissy Spacek routine with slamming doors, and pins Debbie against a wall with the Seven Dwarves' pick axes.
If that isn't bonkers enough, Kerry then manages to put the blame on Robert in front of the other dwarves (such a cruel joke that they're all too small to climb up on stage to the rescue) and as he escapes, the queeny Brian materialises in full wicked Queen drag and belts him across the head with a shovel. Did I mention this series was seriously deranged?
Joy breaks into Ravenhill to perform a blood transfusion from the kidnapped Nicola and Michael Fry also arrives to complete the purchase of Snappy the Crocodile. 'Look, he's already got the colour coming back into his cheeks!' cries Joy as Nicola's blood leaks out of Freddy's unseeing doll eyes. Maureen returns to the flat, now fully realising that their murder spree was based on David's misunderstood confession of 'I've done a bad murder'. It's a brilliantly dark scene as an overdosed Maureen grabs a pillow and decides to suffocate David in order to spare them both arrest. Except of course, David isn't in bed, a balloon bursts where his head should be and Maureen, realising she's poisoned herself, shoves her fingers down her throat. Twisted stuff.
As Joy drains Nicola of blood, back in his mansion Lomax is depressed that his latest helper loves Tony Hancock. She promptly and aptly quotes that infamous line from The Blood Donor. Lomax gets a call from Tealeaf, now locked in a room in Ravenhill with Snappy, and obviously Lomax will join the rest of the characters, including David carrying a rather suspicious blue plastic bag, for the finale in Episode Seven.
Cathode Ray Tube Psychoville League Of Gentlemen Reece Shearsmith Steve Pemberton