Realised I wrote this a while back for a website, it never got used so putting it on here. You like weird comedies? This is for you…
It’s been a while since a decent, unusual, strange TV show has come along and captivated the British audience. Then This Is Jinsy appears as if from nowhere to fill that exact spot.
To try and describe This Is Jinsy is actually rather easy, it’s like if The Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentlemen had a love child, which was then adopted and raised by Monty Python. This may be a dream concoction for some, but with those hugely beloved comedies it’s going to be hard for Jinsy to live up to expectations. It‘s pretty impossible not to draw comparisons to the obvious influences, but as the series progresses, it does begin to carve out its own style and makes for a very intriguing comedy.
You may be wondering where the hell this show has come from and what it’s all about, a fair reaction considering its subject matter. This Is Jinsy’s pilot episode aired on BBC3 but was then picked up for a full series by Sky Atlantic, which is why it may have slipped under the radar for a few people. The series is written by Chris Bran and Justin Chubb who star as the main characters, Chubb as Maven and Bran as Sporall. Jinsy is a bizarre fictional island where we follow the lives of Arbiter Maven, chosen to look over the lives of his islanders along with and his assistant, Sporall. Maven keeps a check on the islanders to enforce the wishes of “The Great He” while putting up with the dry, quick quips from Sporall who seems permanently bemused by his superior’s general existence. Attention to detail about the islands 791 inhabitants and their way of life is captured in a very Orwellian style; their lives are monitored by a series of surveillance systems (1,067 tessellators to be exact) that Maven keeps track on. The show is made up adventures they stumble upon in their everyday life which is intercut with sketches, but not sketches where you will see the same thing twice, the sketches comprise of island announcements and musical interludes.
A warning right now, if random humour is not your thing, do not go near This Is Jinsy, it will only irritate you so don’t put yourself through it. On the other hand, if random makes you giggle like a tickled hyena then you are in luck, this is a little gem of a show. It does take a while to get into, for the first couple of episodes it will seem like nothing but gibberish when an islander speaks, however, if you go with it it becomes quite a marvellous show to follow that is just brim full of treats to discover.
There’s a rather magical feel to each episode which is partly due to the fantastic set design, most of the episodes start in the tower where Maven watches the people of Jinsy through his tessellator. The tower is very reminiscent of every childrens programme made in the ‘90s, even the sounds and the random noises that appear every now and then seem to take influence from this and it gives it a rather quaint and unique quality. The costumes also add to this magical feel, it really is another world. But this other world does have elements of ours, for example, the Sports Pak interlude that airs on Jinsy has commentators just like any sport event, except it’s something silly like a race to change each other’s clothes under a duvet making it all the more funny.
There are plenty of well-known faces that constantly pop up in the series, though unlike a cameo in something like Little Britain, in This Is Jinsy they are pretty unrecognisable and have fantastic parts that add to each story. People like David Tennant and Peter Serafinowicz both make appearances, but the best occurs in the third episode when Catherin Tate shows up as Roopina Crale, editor of “Glove Hygiene Monthly”. Her performance makes this one of the funniest of the series. It is at this point where the show takes off and where you will find yourself really getting into it.
Other than the odd famous face that pops up, there are a few permanent ones. Jennifer Saunders provides the voice for the daily Jinsy news announcer and a brilliant Harry Hill as Joon Boolay (evoking Kenny Everrit’s Cupid Stunt) is the presenter for Punishment Round Up, a show to punish those who have broken the insane Jinsy rules. Another nice little feature is Sandy’s Choice, a talent show where performers try and win the approval of Sandy, a judgmental dog. She either licks the people that impress her, or pushes them off the stage with her massive tail. This is where we get a lot of the musical entertainment which is very reminiscent of The Mighty Boosh, not only is it funny but these songs are good too. You can imagine this as a live show where it would really come to life and the songs would be the highlight. Musical numbers also appear through another of Justin Chubb’s characters, Melody Lane. With Melody he looks a little too good as a woman, a slightly unattractive woman, but would still definitely pass as a woman, no questions. Songs “Licky Licky” and “Soup of the Gods” will be ones you’ll be humming in no time.
There are only 8 episodes to the first series, but this DVD is a great little taster of Jinsy life that will hopefully lead to more.
DVD extras of the series include Jinsyokey where you can sing along Jinsy style to some of the classic songs from the series. There is also a song by Melody Lane “David’s Pond” not featured in the series and the lost episode “Pameric” of the Jinsy favourite TV Show which was set to transmit in the last episode of the series. A nice addition but nothing too exciting.