Are you local? I hope so, for it seems the sign informing you that the town of Royston Vasey lies ahead, is right – You’ll Never Leave. The third series of this unique and dark comedy aired recently on Friday nights on the ABC and the six half-hour episodes continue to provide delicious black humour that you just know you shouldn’t be loving.
Picking up some time after the second series ended, these six episodes run a little like Pulp Fiction or Go in that they all end with essentially the same cliffhanger, albeit viewed from a different perspective, with each episode centred on one or two familiar characters with a little help from their friends. Each offers a new perspective of the series of events that leads to the final few seconds of mayhem and tragedy. This sets the series apart from the two previous ones which were more like a collection of loosely related sketches featuring the same characters in their fictitious town. There are still some one-off characters that flit in and out again with no connection to the major chain of events, to offer some extra wickedly dark laughs along the way.
Pauline Campbell-Jones is in HM Prison Clitclink and has turned into a poor man’s Bea Smith complete with buzz cut. Mickey is still unemployed (big surprise), but Pauline is thrown a lifeline to the freedom from a most unlikely source.
Joke shop proprietor Lance opts for a limb transplant, but thanks to hospital DJ. Mike King things do not go as planned, as the new arm turns out to have a mind of its own.
Territorial Army stalwart Geoff Tipps gets the sack from the plastics factory and heads down to London to start the career in stand-up comedy that he has dreamt of for so long. He should have stayed at home.
Over at the Windermere Bed & Breakfast, Sunny and Alvin Steele are hosting another round of nude party frolics and decide to take their guests on the sexual thrill ride of their lives with Daddy and the Medusa, with hilariously dark consequences. Could Alvin have a new love interest in the local garden centre?
Charlie and Stella are going through another (the same) rough patch, but when Charlie finds work as a masseur at Judee Levinson’s beauty parlour, ‘Spit and Polish’, the customers get more than they or Charlie bargained for. Still, no one seems to be complaining.
Vinnie and Reenie at the second-hand shop are in their element with loads of new stuff to be processed, but when a red plastic bag flies out the window all hell breaks loose. Reenie disappears and when her clothes turn up at the second-hand shop, Vinnie realises what has happened. She hires Keith, an effeminate theatre director, to help run the shop and he seems nice enough, but why is he so familiar?
What can you say about a comedy show that is so unique and so refreshing that it makes just about anything else on television seem tame by comparison? The three actors who play the majority of the roles (yes, even the women), Reece Sheersmith, Mark Gattis and Steve Pemberton, all co-write the show with Jeremy Dyson, and collectively they have come up with a series of ideas that could go anywhere and push almost every boundary known to television, and then some, but always in the best possible taste – not!
Those who have followed the series may lament the omission of the toad-loving Dentons and their Children of the Corn twins Chloe and Radcliffe, the kiss-of-death vet Mr Chinnery, suspicious butcher Hilary Briss, the camp tour guide Herr Lipp and the Reverend Bernice, but will delight at the return of the scary Papa Lazarou, the two old girls at the second hand shop Vinnie and Rennie, transsexual cabbie and now Mrs Babs Tubbs, Legz Akimbo, Pauline and her ‘financee’.
This award-winning show is not for the faint hearted, the politically correct or the easily offended. No minority group is spared and no subject is out of bounds. The slings and arrows continually find their mark, and while some of the gags are obvious and very funny, the six episodes are riddled with subtle gags and endless B-grade movie references. It is no secret that the League are fans of Hammer Horror and while some will immediately try to draw parallels with Monty Python, the League are not as abstract as Python and not as ‘hit-and-miss’. Repeated viewings will pay handsome dividends as the numerous subtle gags find space between the more obvious ones. If you haven’t discovered The League of Gentlemen as yet, then it is recommended to watch the first two series in their entirety as the characters will become more familiar, and the in-jokes and character quirkiness more amusing. Then sit back and enjoy 18 half four episodes of comic genius, quality gags and dark, dark, humour.
The standard Dolby Digital stereo is offered here, but it is more than sufficient and reasonably good. The basics are all good with no problems relating to synchronisation, volume or clarity. There is no hiss, nor any pops or clicks.
There is some obvious separation of sound, but there is no signal from anything other than the left and right front speakers. The whole thing sounds natural and balanced. The newly revamped theme tune may have been poo-pooed by many fans, but when placed in the episodes, it gives a harder funkier edge to the comedy.