Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Inside No. 9: The Stakeout – review

Director: Guillem Morales

First aired: 2020

Contains spoilers

From the minds of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, of the League of Gentlemen, Inside No. 9 is an anthology series where the story takes place inside a building (normally) numbered 9 (in this case, it is police squad car 9). My friend Ian messaged me to see if I had seen this season 5 episode (I hadn’t at that point) and, given the recent reimagining of Dracula involving their League of Gentlemen partner Mark Gatiss, it does seem apropos that they also feature a vampire story now.

The story begins with Special Constable Varney (Reece Shearsmith) in the back of the squad car, bloodied, and a narration by him about the new partner ending up dead. We move back in time – to night one – and there is a knock on a squad car window, with Varney looking to get Constable Thompson (Steve Pemberton) to open the door as his hands are full with two brews. Much of the episode is taken with conversation and banter between these two.

coffee and banter
Varney is a flexitarian (he eats meat very occasionally) and has got sweetener rather than sugar in Thompson’s coffee to preserve his new partner from type 2 diabetes. Thompson is old school but is clearly not facing the fact that his previous partner, Dobson (Malik Ibheis), was murdered – his throat cut – whilst Thompson was in a take away. Varney can’t work out why they would stakeout a cemetery. Drug dealing is mentioned, but they are in a marked car, then Thompson suggests that there has been vandalism and they are a deterrent.

call it in
As the episode proceeds we discover that, unknown to Varney, they are meant to be staking out a dockland flat and that Thompson has ignored orders as the vandalism was of Dobson’s grave and he feels the killer is mocking him. Of course, given me looking at it, it’s obvious that the vandalism occurred when Dobson exited his grave – a creature of the night. What I won’t spoil is how the two coppers discover this.

murder weapon
There isn’t a massive amount of lore revealed but we do get the facts that vampires do not reflect and are overwhelmed by the smell of garlic. All in all, this was a fun little piece, with a focus on dialogue rather than activity. The two primaries know each other of old, of course, and therefore bounce of each other with great aplomb. The episode is only short and so doesn’t outstay its welcome and does throw in some blood and peril. That said it was not as chunky as it might have been, despite the short time. I think 6.5 out of 10 is fair.

The imdb page is here. UK viewers can catch this on BBC iPlayer. Alternatively, it is available:

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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