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Friday, August 25, 2023

“Inside No. 9” Season 8 Review – An Outstanding Season Rich in Thrills and Suspense

Unlike other anthology series, Inside No. 9 not only reinvents itself with each episode, its multi-genre approach gives the showrunners plenty of chances to experiment. One episode could be science fiction, and then the next is a comedy. There is really no telling what’s in store for viewers as they tune in. Now, the show’s masterminds and stars, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, tend to offer a variety of odd tales every season, but this installment has, for the most part, thrills and suspense on the brain.

Not since 2018 has Inside No. 9 produced a holiday special. “Dead Line” delivered an immersive Halloween experience born out of faux technical difficulties, and before that, “The Devil of Christmas” shocked viewers in 2016 with an unforgettable twist in the tail. Meanwhile, Season 8’s “The Bones of St Nicholas” channels the British tradition of ghost stories told at Christmas. George Kane, who would go on to direct the next two episodes, helms this bizarre but exquisitely shot and well-acted story. Although this instance of a double-booked and supposedly haunted church doesn’t pack the same wallop as the previous Christmas special, it is a stirring study of human rationale.

By now, viewers know to expect the unexpected from Inside No. 9, so any criticisms about “Mother’s Ruin” being a retread of Season 2’s “Séance Time” will surely be withdrawn once the episode takes its inevitable turn. This one is briefly brutal, but even the show’s habit of gallows humor can’t quite make you forget the episode’s burst of graphic violence. The next episode’s title of “Paraskevidekatriaphobia” doesn’t roll off one’s tongue, however, this chaotic story about a man fearful of Friday the 13th (the day, not the movie) is a delightful serving of slapstick regardless of its ambiguous tone.

Love is a Stranger” could be considered too obvious for its own good, yet that is a testament to how observant Inside No. 9 viewers have become. Nevertheless, Claire Rushbrook gives a superb performance as a perpetually single woman looking for love in the wrong place: a dating website. The outcome runs on the predictable side, but as with “Paraskevidekatriaphobia,” being aware of what’s possibly coming doesn’t erase this episode’s merits.

With Inside No. 9 often acting like a visceral reminder of British TV of yesteryear, it’s no surprise that “Hold on Tight!” is inspired by the ‘70s sitcom On the Buses. This series is always scouting for unorthodox settings, but vehicles are underused. “Hold on Tight!” doesn’t change things, though, seeing as this No. 9 bus never leaves the station. The episode was “pulled” at the last second, and in its place was a game show pilot called “3 by 3.” Push past any confusion, pay close attention, and bear witness to the most clever episode this season. This is a great example of how streaming can never replace the experience of live and traditional television. Especially when things go wrong.

“Hold on Tight!” / “3 by 3” is a tough act to follow, but “The Last Weekend” doesn’t fall short. The season finale gives you a lot to process once everything is said and done. Without giving anything away, just know that this story, one about a couple making peace with one of life’s cruelties while holidaying in a cabin, will leave viewers woozy by the end. Once again, it’s another case where the less said, the better.

Dips in quality are unavoidable when a series lasts as long as Inside No. 9, but there is also something to be said about how creative and fulfilling everything here continues to feel. Even if an episode doesn’t have perfect execution, there is always something else about it to enjoy. Pemberton and Shearsmith are certainly still putting their everything in every story. And with the consistently engaging Season Eight in the bag, fans are one step closer to what will undoubtedly be a momentous Season Nine.

Season 8 of Inside No. 9 is now streaming on BritBox.

Inside No. 9

Inside No. 9, Season 8: Mother’s Ruin

The post “Inside No. 9” Season 8 Review – An Outstanding Season Rich in Thrills and Suspense appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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