Inside No 9 has provided welcome relief from the dull drudgery of the swathes of simple television which makes no demands on us viewers. The series was made up of six individual stories, linked only by the fact that they take place inside a building or room which is 'Number 9', and their mixture of darkness and comedy.
As soon as the camera pans over the gothic mansion in this episode, entitled 'The Harrowing', the cinematic influences which Pemberton and Shearsmith have openly been inspired by were brought to mind. Hitchcock, Hammer Horror and perhaps even a little Rocky Horror were clearly informing this episode from the off, and one aspect of what made it so enjoyable was seeing this genre transplanted into the present day. Tabitha and Hector, the spooky owners of the house, talked about being offered "something called broadbands" and were armed with a taser during the final act, bringing modern references into a setting which is essentially rooted in the past, for comic effect.
Babysitter Katy was employed to look after Tabitha and Hector's invalid brother, Andras. She was told that he wouldn't need tending to, but that he did have a bell – which he had never rung and was unlikely to do so on that night. When the bell did ring, and the broken stair-lift moved of its own accord, Katy and her goth friend Shell followed its path up to the room where bedridden Andras lived, at which point the urge to hide behind a cushion was almost too much.
The scenes with Andras certainly warranted the warning of disturbing scenes before the episode began, and following the endings of some of the past episodes (particularly episode 4, 'Last Gasp', which had an unexpectedly optimistic finale), I waited and waited for the situation to resolve itself. The ending will most likely have sparked an online outcry, but in my opinion it was fantastic, fearless and a perfect end to a series which has been an unusual but very welcome dose of unsettling drama every week.
It is a marvel that in every episode (of only 30 minutes each), the worlds and the characters within them have been fully-formed, enough to make us feel each twist and turn just the right amount. The duo behind this excellent series, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, seem to be the absolute last word in black comedy, being behind The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, and this series has only cemented their reputation further.
I expect it will be a while before we see anything so bravely scary and brilliantly-done as this episode on our TV screens. In fact, it probably won't be until the next series of Inside No 9.
Review by Alex Hoskins
Alex Hoskins is a keen TV fan, who loves Coronation Street, The Voice and Mad Men. #Corrie was her most used hashtag of 2013, which she is not at all ashamed of. She can be found on Twitter as @alxhskns and when she's not watching TV, blogs about the outdoors at sporadicramble.wordpress.com.