Setting the whole tone of the sitcom, the press pack for This is Jinsy came with a map of Jinsy island, a bar of “pea flavour” soap and a fake ginger beard stapled on to a photo of Harry Hill in drag. Sadly, the beard was too small for my flatmate, who has a real ginger beard, to wear during the watching.
The eight-part series broadly follows Arbiter Maven and his assistant Sporall, played by the writers, Chris Bran and Justin Chubb. According to the wishes of The Great He, they administer the island of Jinsy in a local council-like way, if the local council was involved in monitoring its residents, à la 1984, and punishing wrong-doers with electric shocks. With guest stars aplenty, the first episode centres around a wedding lottery conducted by an awesomely over the top David Tennant, and the second features the joy of Peter Serafinowicz, when The Great He apparently returns to extol the virtues of cupboards.
And that’s pretty much it for plot. They’re thin and predictable, mostly providing the continuity links between bizarre sketches and songs. Like sketch shows, some pieces work and some don’t but the balance tips in favour of being funny: it’s a warning about the dangers of photocopier owls that got our first out-loud laugh.
This is Jinsy‘s spiritual home is BBC3 and has been drawing comparisons with The League of Gentlemen and The Mighty Boosh but more than anything, I was reminded of Monty Python crossed with CBeebies classic, Balamory. In the hands of a less skilled team, it would be painful viewing (see Campus versus Green Wing) and occasionally it’s a bit self-consciously weird. As a whole though, it’s an enjoyably silly half hour with endearing characters and equally endearing low-budget special effects.
The first two episodes of This is Jinsy air tonight at 10:10pm on Sky Atlantic.