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Inside No. 9--Review Thread


Well, I guess no one is watching --or has watched-- the series. I thought there'd be more comments.
It's kind of an eccentric show. I can see how it isn't for everyone.

I got about halfway through the witch trial episode (#3) before I bailed . . . I may have missed an impressive ending, but I didn't feel like waiting around to see.
You did not miss anything close to an impressive ending.

The 4th episode, however, was a different matter. It was very cleverly written, and held my interest throughout. The story gradually shifted focus leading to a surprise ending. The split screen CCTV filming served to obscure certain parts of the action, as well as to build tension.
Yes, I also thought it was one of the better ones. I'm going to write it up tomorrow.

Cold Comfort, Series 2, Episode 4, 2015

Andy (Steve Pemberton) has just started work at a call center for a crisis/emotional support line. Under the watchful eye of his boss, George (Reece Shearsmith), Andy takes calls from people with a variety of issues. Rounding out the workplace are Liz (Jane Horrocks) who seems to take personal calls on the job and Joanne (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who strongly advocates keeping emotional distance from their clients. But when Andy receives a disturbing phone call that shakes him emotionally, there is a tragic snowball effect of consequences.

I thought that this was a pretty good episode overall. Just visually, the format is a nice departure from the typical television look: the screen is closed-circuit footage of Andy at his desk, with three smaller boxes showing other closed-circuit camera feeds. This create both a sense of confinement---Andy at his cubicle--and a sense of space as we see characters in the office and hallways.

There is a plot twist around halfway through the episode when we learn that
WARNING: spoilers below
the caller who spoke to Andy and then supposedly killed herself while on the phone is actually someone who just called for attention and/or to mess with the phone counselors.

From this point, it becomes a question of who the person is on the other side of the line, and Andy even begins to suspect that it may be one of his co-workers.

I had a medium reaction to this turn of events. I didn't so much mind the idea that one of his co-workers might be to blame. From the beginning the "teen girl" voice didn't sound at all convincing to me, so I figured there was something up.

I did like the way that they sowed suspicion by having certain co-workers be holding a phone or moving around at certain times, allowing us to experience some of the paranoia that Andy felt.

I was also really thrilled to see Jane Horrocks pop up--I think she's really fabulous. Amuka-Bird was very strong in her role as well.

Nana's Party, Series 2, Episode 5, 2015

Angela (Claire Skinner) is a woman---clearly suffering from OCD--who is preparing to host her mother, Maggie's (Elsie Kelly), 79th birthday party. Her husband, Jim (Steve Pemberton) is determined to play a prank on his wife's brother-in-law, Pat (Reece Shearsmith), who is an obnoxious and unrelenting prankster. But once the guests arrive, including Angela's sister, Carol (Lorraine Ashbourne), who is teetering on the edge of an alcoholic relapse, things all begin to go horribly wrong.

In terms of structure, this episode goes back a bit to the well of the structure of the first episode, Sardines. There's a lot of humor and tension generated from having a character hiding----in this case Jim or Angela crouched inside a fake birthday cake---as other characters blather on without realizing they have an audience. Despite the familiarity of this dynamic it still manages to generate some laughs and "oh no!" moments. I'm kind of a sucker for the old trick of cutting to a hiding spot as if it were a character, so yes I laughed almost every time the camera cut to the cake as if we could see the person inside. And, in fact, a lot of suspense comes in the latter half from wondering how the character inside is reacting to what they are hearing.

I do quite like Claire Skinner, and she manages some really solid physical comedy as the anxious, fastidious Angela. It's Ashbourne (who the IMDb tells me is married to Andy Serkis!) who really turns in a memorable performance as Carol, whose drinking threatens to dislodge some well-kept family secrets.

I think that this episode works because it allows some grace and empathy for its characters. Kelly's grandmother character is far from the usual TV trope of the inappropriate, racist, or otherwise "problematic" old person. Instead she's just affable and fun, and you can tell that he granddaughter really likes her. Likewise, Angela and her daughter, Katie (Eve Austin) feel very grounded, which makes the absurd shenanigans around them have more of an impact.

This episode also goes for several "twist" moments in the episode, but goes with a more straight ahead ending, which I thought worked so much better than trying to throw in some last minute stinger. I could see watching this one again.

And it turns out Hulu only has the first two seasons, so this will be my last write-up for a while. I am enjoying the series, but it is very hit-or-miss from episode to episode.

Seance Time, Series 2, Episode 6, 2015

Terry (Reece Shearsmith) is the producer of a hidden camera series, coordinating an episode where an actress playing a medium, Anne (Alison Steadman) gives a spooky reading to unsuspecting clients. But when the highly skeptical Pete (Steve Pemberton) arrives, things go very off script.

I thought this episode was okay. Shearsmith and Pemberton are always pretty solid in their roles. Alison Steadmen is very funny as the actress who is totally over the whole thing, bemoaning her situation while also frequently name-dropping. She really lifts her sequences.

The twist in this episode is actually pretty interesting, and done with some really nice foreshadowing, but it doesn't feel like they made the most of it at all. It's one of those episodes where it wants to save certain information as a big twist, but I think that the episode would have been much stronger if that twist had come more like halfway through.

A passable episode that could have been much stronger with better pacing.