23 September 2011 | caruby69
Upbeat surreal comedy, uneven but don't miss the best bits!
If you have read any of the press, you will know that 'This is Jinsy' started life on BBC Three and was then picked up by Sky Atlantic for a full series.
Jinsy is a fictional island and nothing is normal there! Only two episodes have screened in the UK at this time of writing and already the voice of Jennifer Saunders has warned us about the dangers of electric owls which attacked a man and excreted A4 or A5 size photocopies of his horrified face, the size depending upon the owl's age. Yes, I did warn you that this was surreal.
Watching Jinsy is an immersive experience. It transports you into the bizarre and is neither a sketch show nor a single continuous narrative. It has elements of both. Imagine what Surrealist painter Salvador Dali might have imagined to amuse himself, and you get close.
Episode one features some of former Dr. Who David Tennant's best moments on screen ever. Adorned with Thatcheresque lacquered orange hair, a bright yellow jacket and horribly patterned overly tight trousers, his Mr. Slightlyman is an hilariously camp creation that deserves a show in its own right, or at least many returns to Jinsy. In this instance he is overseeing the island's wedding lottery, which happens every three years. And yes, you did read that correctly. Every resident is entered into a lottery and paired off for three years, with often hilarious results.
Episode two draws some parallels with another comedy classic team - Monty Python . . . specifically their cult masterpiece, Life of Brian. A cupboard salesman is recognised (or mistaken) to be a being of great power in Jinsy. Cue lots of visual gags alongside a slightly weaker story. It does develop the characters further though.
Jinsy goes beyond the single episode narrative though. Each episode appears to have returning elements, an unexpected highlight being Harry Hill in drag, dishing out punishments to islanders who have committed amusingly odd and hardly offensive crimes. His/her tastefully gloved hand hovers seductively above a rather lethal looking red button while the seedy details are recounted with a cosy yet conspiratorial and somewhat malevolent gaze. It gets funnier the more you see it and has to be one of the gags you long for each time you return to Jinsy. And I say this as someone who has never really bothered with Mr. Hill's ITV shows. He has transcended himself! Other gags pop up as songs, and unlike most comedies, these are actually FUNNY. So many times I have watched otherwise brilliant comedies, such as Smack the Pony, and felt that the musical bits were only funny to those who wrote or performed them and were ultimately just fillers. On Jinsy it is different. They are so weird they are brilliant. Episode one features a song contest judged by a dog, whose paw wavers over a green 'Woof' button, or a red 'Enoof' button. The song itself is a bizarrely catchy creation about . . . a dog . . . licking. Obviously all songs in the contest aim to win the dog's praise! In episode two, the cupboard based story takes to music with a very retro Eurovisionesque man in drag singing about types of wood . . . "La La La La La Larch . . ." etc. It sounds mad and it is, and it works. It at once references Monty Python and feels immediate because it knows its own genre so well.
Also of note is the short segment in episode two featuring a dishevelled art critic who details the controversial depictions of fruit with leaves removed. How immodest! Words fail to express how spot on this character is. Just think of old BBC Open University broadcasts and you will have an idea of how funny it is. His back is so bent and his gaze at first seems awkward, progressing to be so off-kilter that he has to be 'revolved' back to face camera. A moment of pure genius.
So there you have it. All of the above is Jinsy. Having seen two episodes, it is not all perfect, but there are enough comedy treasures in there to warrant repeated viewing, and yes it gets better each time. Central performances are sufficiently weird and wonderful, and not just the cameos. Lesser known talent is starting to shine too.
I suggest you visit the island, and if you find any of it funny, go back several times, because you will like it all the more. Let's hope Sky realises that while it may take a while to catch on, it really is a comedy classic. Kudos to all involved.