Thomas Thompson

Jam (TV Series)

2nd May 2004
Jam DVD Cover reviewer: Thomas Thompson
rating: 3 out of 5
directed by: Christopher Morris
written by: Peter Baynham
starring: Christopher Morris, Amelia Bullmore, David Cann, Julia Davis
genre: Comedy Horror
released: 23rd March 2000

With its routes as an audio sketch show, Jam is a comedy series featuring the likes of Chris Morris (Brass Eye) and Mark Heap (Spaced) taking comedy to the far depth of the sick and twisted. Its likely to offend, and every time a smile crops across your face, you're likely to have a feeling of guilt not soon after. The series progresses through the 6 episodes, with the male nudity, and urination, (the camera angle here being particularly unkind to the viewer) not appearing past episode two. In this sense it can be hit and miss with its humour, and obviously won't be suited to everyone's tastes. Hence the single series run in 2000, which is a shame because the show had great potential.

Visually its something fresh too, as the direction lets loose with a number of varied camera tricks, resulting in impressive results at times. The introduction of each is something to behold, different for every episode, with a poetic voiceover covering a pretty pychedelic opening visual. 'Experimental' might be a good word to summarise. Its very well acted too, and not with the 'for a comedy' suffix. With only a couple of recurring characters through the entire series, and only one with a running joke as such, there's a lot of different personalities that the 5 main cast members have to play, as well as a fair number of scenarios on offer. They do a brilliant job of providing differing personalities for each sketch, delivering a performance that delivers the joke on offer perfectly.

The gags that fail though, and there are a few, are something of a down point to the series. There's also bound to be at least one or two scenes that make you uncomfortable, I found myself fastforwarding through at least one sketch (thankfully there's only one visual ajaculation joke), which left me with my guard up through every episode. Had the series been more popular, or been granted a second outing, it would have surely picked up a lot of media attention for its controversey. Two parents breaking out into sing-song through heart felt tears as they make a plea for their child's abductor to return him, is one such moment. Funny though. (Quite another good summary of the show, that.)

When the series is at a high for its gags, it delivers. The very suave parents 'relaxed' reaction to their missing child, ("I'm sure he's just sleeping overnight at the school") is a shared highlight, the tale of man who jumps from the first storey of a building 40 times, and the subsequent explanation as to why, being the other. Particularly for its dry delivery. The former is one of two scenes that is offered as an extra on the DVD with the original audience laughter. Their noise drowns out the punchline.

The 2 Disc DVD release also provides the 6 episodes of Jaaaaam, the 'late night' re-cut version of the show. It's special features are original to say the least. Experimental would again be a suited description. Each epidsode is viewable as the 'original version' and can also be viewed via a second method, differing for each episode. The options allow you to watch one show in a small box which bounces around the screen like a Windows screensaver, another allows you to watch it in its restored format, having previously been fastforwarded through. Some are more gimmiky than others, 'the first 19 seconds' can't really be counted as a secondary method for watching the show as such. A surprise appearance by Adam and Joe doing a sketch in trying to keep with the show's darkly offensive comedy is short, but funny. There's the forementioned sketches with original audience laughter in tact and an as yet unwatched 'Jam London/Tokyo exhibiton' to complete the disk, aswell as a number of joke extras ("undeleted scenes").

Its a nice package in all, but while the series is awash with talent, chock-full of potential, and reaches the highs of comedy at times, it remains 'hit and miss' throughout. Its well worth picking up, or watching if channel four re-run it, as its unlikley your thirst for sketches featuring 8 year old "disposal specialists", a woman so desperate for comapnionship she'll injure people to invoke conversation, parents who fit their daugter with a 45 year old man's genitals, and a number of pedophile related jokes, will be quenched elsewhere. A purchase not likely to dissapoint, but practically guaranteed to offend.