This series of Inside No.9 hit some very high points early in this fourth season. The problem with setting a high standard with something early on is that it’s quite easy for what follows to be kind of disappointing. This is exactly the problem with And the Winner Is… , which was a decent enough episode, but coming along after Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room, Zanzibar and To Have and To Hold, it feels like a bit of a let down.
Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith chose to make fun of their own industry in this episode, set in the room where jury number nine were deliberating who to crown the winner of a best actress TV award. The cast of characters for this once included an in-demand director, a weary TV critic, a vacuous actress, an actor very much from the old school of thespians, a writer clearly down on his luck and a timid member of the public who’d won a competition to help judge the award. Steve Pemberton’s character presided over the jury and tried to keep them in line when the inevitable back-biting and sniping started, in a persona that reminded me so much of The League of Gentleman’s Pauline that I kept expecting him to refer to them all as “jobseekers”. (And yes, of course there are going to be similarities when the same actors play so many different characters.)
Despite my slight lack of enthusiasm for this episode, it was still cleverly written, touching on some of the issues that are currently causing such controversy in the entertainment industry, while sending up some of the clichéd personality types the industry seems to attract.
I’m not particularly good at guessing the twist in TV shows and movies, mostly because I don’t try, I quite enjoy just letting things wash over me and discovering plot points when I’m supposed to be discovering them. This was no exception, I didn’t spot the twist until about a second before the big reveal.
I had the feeling that Jackie, the timid member of the public who’d won a competition to help judge the award, was the key to the episode somehow, but I didn’t guess quite how. Throughout, the pretentious industry types looked down their noses at Jackie’s trite observations about the actresses they were discussing. Despite this, she managed to talk more sense than any of the others, and show them all up for the shallow, cynical hacks they all obviously were, as well as inadvertently casting some shade on the process of dishing out awards. But it wasn’t until the end that Jackie revealed herself to be one of the nominees, disguised as an unassuming member of the public in order to manipulate the jury from the inside and make sure she was crowned as the winner.
It was a clever twist, but for me this episode lacked the dark humour I love so much about Inside No.9. I’m hoping next week’s finale returns to a subject matter a bit more macabre and ends on the same high it reached with earlier episodes.