This is… not that bad, really

So, yes, it’s been another month since I’ve posted anything on here. Basically, I’ve been busy, things have happened… In the words of Danny Baker, there’s no need to drag you into my private hell. Here begins another attempt to start regularly blogging with what’ll be a recurring theme over the coming days – a look at a series that has already been on for a few weeks, in this case Sky Atlantic’s surreal sitcom This Is Jinsy.

Chris Bran and Justin Chubb’s oddball creation first came to our screens last year as a BBC Three pilot (reviewed here) and was brought to Sky as part of its raft of comedy commissions, including the rather good Trollied and this Friday’s new series, Spy. Set on an island full of eccentric chalet-dwelling inhabitants and dozens of combined TV screens and CCTV cameras called Tessellators, This is Jinsy follows the misadventures of Arbiter Maven and Operative Sporall (Chubb and Bran) who look after the island on behalf of a mysterious being known as The Great He. They’re helped by a rather wonderful regular supporting cast including Darkplace’s Alice Lowe and Geoffrey McGivern.

Despite the obvious use of green screen, This is Jinsy looks great, somehow combining a high-definition sheen with a folksy, low-fi aesthetic. So far, the list of guest stars has been pretty spectacular – Harry Hill, Jennifer Saunders, David Tennant, Peter Serafinowicz, Catherine Tate, Kevin Eldon and, most bizarrely of all, KT Tunstall singing a song about an onion. The idiosyncratic, imaginative design is a joy and some of the songs have been pretty catchy.

It just has one problem. It isn’t very funny. It’s not as big a problem as it usually would be for a sitcom, because the show is just so damn charming and loveable, but it has raised smiles rather than laughs, with very few funny moments in the episodes so far. And if you’re averse to a bit of whimsy, you’ll have even less to enjoy here. Similar programmes, such as the Mighty Boosh or the League of Gentlemen, are clearly on a whole different level and their qualities seem even more amplified in comparison. The sad thing is that this means it hasn’t moved on much since the BBC Three pilot, where the creativity and enthusiasm made me really want to laugh but I rarely did.

Tonight’s episode again had top-notch guest stars, Simon Callow and Nigel Planer (who was particularly good), and took in some interesting ideas such as a worm that lives inside you and gives you your name, and a sponsored crematorium where mourners sing a jingle at the end of each funeral. Again, it didn’t make me laugh much. And again, I didn’t really mind.

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