First Impressions: FEARnet’s Twisted Comedies Psychoville and Todd & the Book of Pure Evil

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Anyone prone to channel surfing can surely recognize the glut of bland, unoriginal programming that infests the vast majority of TV Land. Sure, there’s some great television happening right now, but for every “Game of Thrones”, there are sixteen cop shows and forty-nine reality shows (actual numbers) festering on any channel at any given time. That’s where the folks at FEARnet come in.

Get a Sneak Peek of FEARnet's Twisted Comedies Psychoville and Todd & the Book of Pure Evil

It’s refreshing to find not one, but two shows available to the horror-lovin’ public via FEARnet this coming August – both of them offering audiences a welcome relief from the drudgery of network content. The BBC import “Psychoville” and the Canadian-produced “Todd & the Book of Pure Evil” manage to give fans entertaining comedy with a horror bent. And while they’re being programmed back-to-back beginning on August 2nd, their humor couldn’t be more different: “Psychoville”’s is best described as ‘traditionally British’ with a macabre twist while “Todd” tends to go for broader yucks. Both approaches offer genuine promise although “Psychoville” emerges with a distinct edge after the premiere episodes have been viewed.

Unfolding like a cross between a situational British sitcom and a brooding mystery, “Psychoville” offers an intriguing collection of seemingly unrelated characters tied together by the mysterious arrival of blackmail notices. We have an elderly recluse, a disgruntled clown amputee, a telekinetic little person and an uncomfortably close (and possibly incestuous) son and mum. The list goes on and on! It’s not a study in irreverence, however, and that’s why it works. The showrunners aren’t desperately striving for laughs, allowing the show to unfold at a leisurely pace that lets us get to know the people we’ll be watching for the next few weeks. There’s also an overarching mystery that entices almost as much as the comedy. With this combination it’s hard to find anything to carp on, and it should be a real trip to see where this series goes. Memorable characters, disturbing moments and a compelling mystery – what’s not to love?

“Todd & the Book of Pure Evil” isn’t quite as promising, although pilot episodes rarely hit the ground running right out of the gate. And there’s lots of possibility in this comedy, which instantly strives for some type of Buffy meets Scott Pilgrim persona. It’s the high school story of a wannabe rock star teenager who comes in contact with a Necronomicon-esque book that holds considerable sway over its owner. Titular Todd fawns over the sexy Goth girl while battling her jerko boyfriend in a personal battle of the bands competition. Just one caveat. Todd has been possessed by that pesky book. And he’s not the only one who wants it. While some of the jokes fall flat on their faces, the show offers enough likability to warrant a few viewings to see if it ever manages to find its feet.