TV review: Inside No. 9, series two, 12 Days Of Christine
People used to use fridge magnets to curate collections of rhetorical nonsense.
Now they use Pinterest, but the nature of the sunset-backed, self-enabling idiom remains the same.
Life is about the journey, they say, not the destination. In the case of portmanteaux comedy series Inside No.9 however, they might have a point.
From the pens of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, Inside No. 9 has drummed up a reputation for its deft mixture of vicious comedy, gut-wrenching drama and changeable, but always perfectly pitched tone. It’s also, for better or worse, become known for its “twist” endings.
Where the line between clever, unexpected writing and twists is drawn is a little unclear, though it seems with the latter lies a troublesome expectation.
So much so, that a portion of No. 9’s audience has come to see the show as a Tales of the Unexpected, everyone-turns-out-to-be-a-bee kind of mind-bender; spending all their time trying to work out the twist, rather than enjoying ‘the journey’.
And this week, the journey is a thing of rare quality indeed.
12 Days of Christine offers us a series of glimpses into the life of Christine, played by wonderfully versatile grafter Sheridan Smith, over a period years.
Like leafing through a handful of Polaroids, twelve days of Christine’s life flicker past with increasing strangeness.
Although the frames of Christine’s existence come and go at near breakneck speed, they never feel inconsequential, or lacking.
This is thanks in no small part to a warm and nuanced performance by Smith and the solid supporting cast (with Pemberton himself providing most of the lighter moments) and the quality of the script, which despite being cut into bite-sized chunks, is shaded and well-observed enough to say an awful lot in a short space of time.
Combining the humorous and the chilling, and still managing to produce something gut-wrenchingly poignant has been a hallmark of Pemberton and Shearsmith’s work for two decades, and although broader and more palatable here, is still cuttingly evident.
Smart, candid, and lighter on the gags than its predecessor, 12 Days of Christine boasts some truly spooky moments.
It’s also liable to hollow out your guts like an emotional ice cream scoop, but the fact that the endearing tone of the episode is one of warmth and authenticity is just one of the reasons this series continues to turn out 30-minute masterclasses in television making.