It is as much of a challenge to find the words to describe Sky Atlanticâs new comedy series, This is Jinsy, as it is to work out what is actually going on in the bizarre sitcom. Written by and starring the previously unknown comedy duo of Chris Bran and Justin Chubb, the sitcom is set on the fictional island of Jinsy, where 791 seemingly bonkers residents live.
The plot follows Arbiter Maven and Operative Sporall as they keep a close eye on the locals, with the help of Tesselators, machines akin to coin slot viewing machines found at the end of piers, here used as two-way CCTV cameras to observe and communicate with the eccentric community.
In tonight’s first episode, David Tennant makes a colourfully camp appearance as Mr Slightlyman, the host of a the ‘Wedding Lottery’ – a tri-annual gameshow designed to âkeep the islandâs breed pool cleanâ? by finding new partners for all 791 Jinsy residents. His exuberant performance put me in mind of what Dale Winton might be like if he took some kind of amphetamine and raided Graham Norton’s wardrobe.
Adding to the general nuts-ness of the show are occasional interruptions from the tesselator as mini broadcasts introduce a sketch element to the show. As well as being pretty funny, these provide a chance to showcase some impressive cameo appearances from the likes of Harry Hill as the rather sinister Ms Joon Boolay, Jane Horrocks and Jennifer Saunders as the voice of Miss Reason. The Singing Obituaries and Melody Laneâs âTypes of Woodâ? (te te te te teak) are the most memorable examples from the first two episodes of the show.
If this all sounds a bit weird, thatâs because it is a bit weird. This is Jinsy is undoubtedly the strangest comedy to emerge in recent years. But, despite being a mind-boggling mix between The League of Gentlemen, Monty Python and most recently, The Mighty Boosh, this has all the hallmarks of a cult classic.
Even more bizarre then, that BBC3 turned down the chance to commission the series after a pilot programme went down pretty well with viewers in March of last year…
Sky have been bombarding us with new comedies of late, but the fact that this new show is debuting on Sky Atlantic (rather than Sky 1) says much about the high-hopes the satellite channel has for it.
Curb Your Enthusiasm and Flight of the Concords have recently made appearances on the Sky Atlantic line up, but with a growing British audience for the new channel, it is surely no surprise that the Sky spotlight has fallen on some brave new British comedy. This is Jinsy certainly ticks all the boxes but it stands out rather conspicuously as the rather bonkers step-brother in the Sky Atlantic family.
BBC3 seems to be the far more logical choice for homegrown humour such as this with shows such as Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh getting their initial screenings on the channel. Later this month BBC executives are expected to unveil proposals for making 20% savings across all aspects of the publicly funded organisation. Perhaps taking a punt on an oddball comedy series about electric owls who might photocopy your face (genuine reference to script) is not in their remit – especially if Sky were willing to instigate a bidding war.
License fee payers who staunchly defend the merits of preserving documentary over on BBC4 will, no doubt, be overjoyed at this. But it does raise some interesting questions about the fate of shows like This is Jinsy if left in the hands of a cautious BBC.