After seeing Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton on a breakfast show talking about the third series of their show Inside No 9 I decided to give it a go. I’d never really heard of it until I saw them talking about it on TV, it’s an anthology series which to be honest I’m not usually a fan of but because these two write and direct it I had to give it a watch. I’m a massive fan of League of Gentlemen and I think Steve Pemberton is a cracking actor who is often underrated due to starring in things like Benidorm.
The basic premise of the show is to tell the stories of what happens inside houses with the number 9 on their door. There’s no rhyme or reason for this it’s just what the title is, we get to see inside a big posh house, a gothic house, a mundane normal house, a small flat, an actors’ dressing room and a very modern house. According to the creators there’s only one thing that links all the stories, a small statue of a hare can be seen in every episode but it’s very very easy to miss.
Each house is home to a story that usually ends in a twist, will you see the twist coming? I didn’t for most of it and when I thought I did it turned again. The tone is set from the very first episode, as you’d expect from the creators of League of Gentlemen it’s a dark and often macabre series of tales with helpings and helpings of dark comedy.
You can tell that Shearsmith and Pemberton are the writers and directors and stars, although you can tell they don’t force themselves into roles or write them specifically for each other. If they don’t fit any roles then they don’t appear in the episode. They are also pretty well respected as there’s a lot of recognisable faces in the series from Gemma Arterton to Varys from Game of Thrones to the Carina red alien in Guardians of the Galaxy, we had good fun watching it and trying to figure out who all the stars were in each episode.
Episode One – Sardines
The rules of the game are simple someone hides and when another person finds them they hide with them and this continues until everyone is hidden and it starts all over against. This episode is about a load of people hiding in a closet at an engagement party and in just half an hour we get to see the tension that exists between plenty of the people. It all ends brilliantly with a great little twist.
Episode Rating – 9/10
Episode Two – A Quiet Night In
Two inept burglars target a very high tech house to steal a painting. The episode is a series of sketches with the burglars avoiding being seen by the husband and the wife who’s he’s arguing with. The best thing about this episode is it’s all done with no voicing and only a music, TV’s and household appliances adding noise to what’s happening. There’s a bit of a slapstick element reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy but unlike the slapstick legends this doesn’t end anything but darkly.
Episode Rating – 9.5/10
Episode Three – Tom & Gerri
Tom dreams of being a writer but currently works as a teacher somehow he’s managed to pull Gemma Arterton in what’s possibly the most unrealistic aspect of the entire series. He’s a bit snobby but his life changes once he meets Migg a tramp who returns his wallet to him, in an uncharacteristic act Tom invites Migg in for a drink and his life takes a turn for the worse. This leads to one of the very best endings of a story I’ve ever seen on screen or written.
Episode Rating – 10/10
Episode Four – Last Gasp
A ill child’s Mother uses her daughter’s make a wish type charity to send her own favourite singer to visit her daughter. Something terrible happens that results in the famous star’s last breath being in a balloon. Now the star’s security, the make a wish charity woman and the family have a decision to make, should they profit from what’s in the balloon? This one was a great idea but it kind of fell short for me, it may not sound possible but it wasn’t as dark as the others.
Episode Rating – 7/10
Episode Five – The Understudy
Set in the dressing room of an up himself prick of an actor he’s the lead in MacBeth. His understudy is a quiet bloke who learns his lines but is too timid to take chances when they come his way, that is until someone steps in for him. He gets an opportunity when someone goes to great lengths to help him realise his talent but it comes at a steep price and he’s turned out to be pretty much like the actor he understudied for.
Episode Rating – 7.5/10
Episode 6 – The Harrowing
A young girl is on the phone heading to a very well paid “babysitting” job her phone cuts out as she arrives at her destination a big gothic house. She enter the house and meets the woman employing her who due to her brother’s illness keeps the house at minus three degrees all the time. The house is filled with religious paintings and is just damn creepy, the girl gets her friend to come with her after she’s told it’s not a baby she’s looking after. This is the most horror based episode and it’s probably the creepiest of the six it’s also packed with a few great twists.
Episode Rating – 9.5/10
I really can’t tell you how great this was, I’m not a fan of anthology as I like longer running storylines but this is genius. It’s darkly funny and packed with twists that should blow your mind. I am not exaggerating when I say I can’t think of a better written and directed British TV show, Pemberton and Shearsmith are great at this kind of thing. It makes me really wish that someone would fund them their own horror film they could make one of the very best black comedy horrors of all time. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next two series, I highly recommend everyone to watch this, there’s a bit of a lull with episodes four and five but the others are so great it doesn’t really matter.
Overall Rating – 9/10