102 Will Self, Walter Mosley
106 Hellboy, Road to Perdition
LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN BBC2, Thu 26 Sep, 10pm COO.
Talbot’s gothic comedy signature tune lurks in as we see
the ‘welcoming’ sign to a windswept northern village. Beyond, a pregnant woman called Barbara (formerly a man called Barbara), stumbles out of a charred ruin, paying last respects to her/his fiance, David. S/he drives off before those we believed dead come thrusting from their shallow graves.
But all the while, we can sense there is something different. This is effectively the last stop on a visionary trip which the League of Gentlemen first embarked upon when they played before enthralled audiences in a Pleasance sweatbox. Their 97 Perrier win (aided by much radio success) allowed this most visual of acts a chance to have their darkly comic thoughts beamed into the homes of the largely unsuspecting public. The League of Gentlemen’s first two series were a triumph
of production values actually meeting their creators’ oceanic ambition. But now, following on from the marginally disappointing Christmas special, the League (messrs Shearsmith, Gatiss, Pemberton and Dyson) have slapped down cinematic half-hour chunks which owe much to the quartet’s love of the horror genre. Within the opening five minutes, there are references to Carrie, Night of the Living Dead and the spooky opening bit in Citizen Kane. And episode two is a skewed take on The Beast with Five Fingers or any of those hoary old chunks of celluloid that involved bits of someone else (usually a sadistic evildoer but here a thoughtful if preening female) being transplanted onto an entirely
I t all starts familiarly enough. The dark undertow of Joby
.0... Excellent 00.. Recommended Good
1 12 Gallery Goods
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1 1 6 Ghana
1 10 Dinner Rush, Gosford Park
1 1 1 Basil Brush, Michael Jackson m
Characters old and new to delight and alarm
incompatible patient (usually a revered doctor or a grand pianist but here the one-armed lunk who owns the nastiest joke shop in the north).
So, the look is new but are they otherwise treading the old ground that won them awards and bedazzled audiences? Are they ’eck as like. First there is the theme tune from the Divine Comedy man. Talbot’s swinging baroque has morphed into pulsing 605 UK funk-thriller music. And the show’s format has switched from cramming in dark character after grotesque monster to concentrating mainly on a single story with slight
interludes into a new set of crazies. And there are indeed a batch of new types. We I . I have the diabetic debt collector more interested in may really, really disturb
chasing ice-cream vans than back payments; the cancerous pensioner who takes family and friends away from their fun weekends to rehearse his imminent funeral; and the unfeeling general practitioner with a very new spin on alternative health.
But the old faves are undoubtedly what the fans will want. Tubbs and Edward make a valuable contribution to the first episode which focuses on Pauline‘s time in and out of prison (HMP Clitclink, no less) with her manipulative, power-crazed nature being underscored by a previously unseen sympathy with the less fortunate (essentially the wannabe fireman Michael Michaels). Though the obsession with nibs remains.
A warning to more sensitive viewers: the scenes of urgent love-making involving a man in his 308 dressed as a confused lesbian in her 405 sprayed in too much rouge may disturb. May really, really disturb. (Brian Donaldson)
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