Hypnotically random from the opening credits, Sky Atlantic’s This Is Jinsy treads a fine line between brilliance and absolute idiocy, with highly amusing results.
Set on the island of Jinsy, the absurdity revolves around the pompous arbiter Maven (Justin Chubb) and his brow-beaten assistant Sporall (Chris Bran), both in service of the The Great He. This service involves constantly spying on the islands 791 inhabitants through observation devices called tessellators and administering remote electrical shocks as punishments, more than happily supported by slightly sinister Joon Boolay (Harry Hill).
If you’re struggling to get your head around that, don’t worry too much as you need to check your sanity at the door before venturing any further into this bizarre world. The opening episode, the first of a two-part opening double bill, sees both Sporall and Maven entered into the island’s wedding lottery, overseen by the roaringly camp Mr. Slightlyman, brilliantly played by David Tennant.
Plot-wise, it doesn’t get much more sophisticated than that, with the second of the two episodes revolving around a case of mistaken identity. Any semblance of storyline is almost completely incidental to the charm of This Is Jinsy though, as the enjoyment is all in the dreamlike tapestry woven by the collection of bizarre comic book characters and their eccentricities. Think The League of Gentlemen, but without the disturbing and slightly upsetting undertones.
Though captivating from the outset and abundantly enjoyable, it’s easy to imagine how with only very small tweaks to the performances and direction, the whole thing could come crashing down into cataclysmic depths of awfulness. In fact there’s so much here that could go horribly wrong, that it can only be down to a genuinely talented cast and crew that everything stays on track in order to come together in such a highly watchable way.
With additional voiceover provided by Jennifer Saunders and guest appearances from a whole host of greats including Catherine Tate, Peter Serafinowicz and even Simon Callow, there’ll be plenty here to enjoy, even if at the end of it all you can’t quite put your finger on why.
Airs at 10:10pm on Monday 19th September 2011 on Sky Atlantic.
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