This is Jinsy 2
Sky Atlantic's Cult comedy This is Jinsy's second series makes it DVD début on February 24th. If you're not familiar with the concept, the Island of Jinsy is controlled, barely, from the Tower by Arbiter Maven (Justin Chubb) his assistant Sporall (Chris Bran), repair woman Soosan Noop (Alice Lowe) and legal advisor Trince (Geoffery McGivern). Created by Bran and Chubb, Jinsy is a surreal British comedy following the lineage of Monty Python, The Goodies, The League of Gentlemen and the Mighty Boosh, with a huge dollop of sinister Hammer Horror thrown in.
With the added conceit of the chalets on the island being connected by a series of Tesselators, essentially cable TV controlled from the tower, but within boxes that look like the antiquated viewing telescopes you get on seaside piers, Brann and Chubb can jump between the stories, with a variety of short 'interloods' as they call them on Jinsy. Bringing to mind commercial TV of the 1970's, the entertainment on the Tesselator includes 'Sandys Choice', a talent competition judged by a dog, with some wonderfully clever musical interludes, including the manic Vegetable Tricks by Melody Lane, and the even odder Debra. Jennifer Saunders guests as the Voice of Miss Reason, who provides random public service announcements, and Greg Davies drags up as Jenetta Bishard in the Punishment round up, where anyone whose been naughty gets a mild electrical (shock). There's also the manic Element Report with weather monk Tracee Henge (Dave Hatton), mixing his Milliganisms with his Stanley Unwins on a psychedelic background to great delight.
Brann and Chubb take the idea of an isolated island community, a la The Wicker Man, and run with it through the 8 episodes here,and their unique brand of surreal comedy, word play, musical interludes, and the Monty Pythonesque Jinsy Choir, makes every episode a joy in its own way. With comedians and actors of the calibre of Stephen Fry (playing the head curator of a hair museum), Sir Derek Jacobi as the oldest man on the island, as a baby in a cot, and Dame Eileen Atkins as the head of a school for girls, the guest stars throw themselves wholeheartedly into it, having real fun in their roles.
The adventures in this series include Maven and Sporall trying to get the books done by a team of accountants who've gone wild, with the head accountant (and his daughter) played magnificently by Ben Miller, to Maven becoming convinced that someone is plotting to overthrow him using jumpers, with Steven Mangan doing his best bond villain as the owner of a knitwear store, its difficult to decide which episode is the funniest. The writing in all of the episodes is smart and clever, and takes ordinary situations, and puts them into the realms of surreal good natured comedy. Jinsy is, to my mind, a lot less smug and weird for the sake of it than the Mighty Boosh, and on the surface isn't as dark as the bleakest of the League of Gentlemen's work, and this makes it a far more accessible comedy.
There are several moments in this series where it really steps up and delivers some unforgettable classic bits of writing, like the episode where Maven wants one of Miss Penny's medals for girls and so he and Sporall pretend to be girls to get into Miss Penny's academy, only to find that Miss Penny (Eileen Atkins on fine form) is trying to train her own personal army to take over Jinsy(and also that the 'girls' in Miss Penny's academy are the Jinsy menfolk).
The stand out episode for me however is Nightly Bye, where the island, unbeknown to Maven, heads down to the Moosic tavern to celebrate the forbidden festival of Nacken. This gives Brann and Chubb the chance to stretch their musical chops, and create some fantastic pieces, as the Nacken is, in essence a pagan musical festival. We're treated to musical delights as 'Hairy Rug' a career defining performance by Rob Bryden as Rex Camelbeeter singing 'Female Badger' and the brilliantly dark, folky 'Woman in a tree', which with the imagery that surrounds it, and the musical accompaniment brings to mind the songs of the classic film The Wicker Man.
As for sinister, one of the creepiest characters of modern comedy the Undertaker played with aplomb by Julian Bleach, is the epitome of creeping evil, and serves as a reminder that Jeremy Dyson (from the League of Gentlemen) is Jinsy's script editor.
As programming goes, this doesn't fit next to anything that Sky, in their brave new world of comedy production, have ever done before, and it's even better for that. It's pleasing to see that the people in charge of the money at Sky have taken a chance on this oddball, quirky comedy, which is destined to be a cult classic of the future, and let them go nuts to their heart's content. This is my one of my favourite new comedies and kept me laughing throughout each episode. With the core cast working as tight knit ensemble, and the guests stars throwing themselves into the world of Jinsy with relish, this is an absolute joy to watch, and stands up well to repeated viewings. If you're new to Jinsy, or if you're a regular visitor to the island, this DVD set is a must have. Jinsy praise him.
Series 2 is released over 2 discs, with the first disc featuring 4 episodes, and the other 4 episodes and the special features. The extras are two unreleased Melody Lane songs 'Uncertainty' and 'Where were you...?' which are both as odd as you'd imagine, and a gallery of sketches and stills from the 8 episodes on the discs. The aspect ratio of the release is 16:9, which is the same as the original broadcast ratio, and the picture quality is just as good as when originally shown.
The sound is just the standard stereo from broadcast again, so there is no loss of quality there, however it's a shame there is no 5.1 mix or an option to listen to the songs on their own, as this seems to be like a major oversight for a show where the songs are such an integral part of the performances, unless this is just a sneaky way to persuade us to buy the soundtracks individually?