It feels very much like this year has been one of returns in the pop culture world (or at least in the sphere of pop culture that I’m into at any rate). I talked about Twin Peaks making a triumphant return yesterday; today, it’s the turn of another series combining humour, horror and the surreal which I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peak of this week - yes, it’s time to return once more to Royston Vasey (not that we ever left, of course) as, after a fifteen year absence*, the League of Gentlemen are back…
Tuesday night saw a BFI special preview of the first episode of the new three part special airing next week followed by a Q&A with the League themselves. First surprise of the night - it wasn’t just the first episode, it was actually the first two! An extremely welcome additional treat.
As for the episodes, I’ll refrain from going into any actual details, given that the three of them are airing next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Yes, there are returning characters (I won't tell you which ones) and even a couple of new ones. If you’re expecting the usual mix of humour, horror and even some pathos then you certainly won't be disappointed. There were a few good belly laughs in there as well as some moments of genuine emotion. I’m not going to go into any specifics as I certainly don’t want to spoil anything ahead of time - all I will say is that, after the format change of the third series and the fourth wall breaking of the film, this is very much a return to classic League Of Gentlemen with the traditional mix of interlinking serialised sketches. One thing that definitely feles a bit stronger this time around (and was pointed out in the follow up Q&A) is that the storytelling feels more structured - a benefit of them all having worked on many different shows in the intervening years. I’m not sure if you’lll get as much from this as a casual viewer - the bigger delights are in seeing where these characters you already know have ended up after all this time.
After the screening, the four Gentlemen were in attendance - Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson - and on fine form answering questions from both the moderators and the audience. The biggest reveal? The Gents are going on tour next year. Might have to see if I can get tickets for that one (although not if they turn out to be Flight Of the Conchords expensive - tried to get tickets for them and could only find ones at the back fo the O2 for about £90; I love the Conchords but not for £90…).
I’m definitely going to have to keep an eye out for more of these BFI screenings - there was something particularly enjoyable about seeing them up on the big screen with an appreciative audience, especially nowadays as the lines between TV and film are blurring more and more (something the League have always done anyway, given that their influences are as much film and documentary as TV comedy) and the quality of current TV is sufficient to withstand the big screen treatment.
(It sort of petered out a bit in that last paragraph, didn’t it? I’m going to let it stand, though - this is what you get from reading just some blog off of that there internet, I suppose.)
* As a group that is - individually, they’ve all been very busy in the meantime.