Jam: The Complete Series on DVD – Chris Morris – The DVDfever Review


Jam was Chris Morris‘ TV version, to a point, of his Radio 1 show “Blue Jam”, something which I tried to listen to but could never get into.

Back then I found TV a more pleasing medium, whereas in the past year or two I’ve been listening to many Radio 2 and Radio 4 comedies such as The 99p Challenge, Just a Minute, The News Quiz, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue as well as old favourites, The Now Show, The Shuttleworths, It’s Been a Bad Week and Parsons and Naylor. Perhaps BBC7 will repeat them at some point – they seem to be repeating many other good things.

How can I best describe Jam? It’s not easy to describe other than to give you examples of the sketches within it, all of which are unconnected and make little sense if at all. Even if you can’t grasp what’s going on, if you were a fan of Chris Morris’ previous disturbing TV work, Brass Eye, you’ll find this just as encapsulating.


Chris Morris – a genius?

This double-disc DVD set contains both the original version of Jam as well as the later repeats which were remixed and retitled as Jaaaaam. This DVD then takes them a bit further as the extras list will show.

So, what to expect from his Morris creation? There’s the man who marries himself because, at the age of 46, he realises he’s never going to get married; the doctor who explains things calmly and methodically… and then pisses himself right in front of the patients; an unlikely estate agent who demands sex with both halves of the couple before moving on to the husband’s mentally-disabled sister. Then there’s a nude Kilroy on the day he lost his mind, in which he literally pisses all over a shop-front window which has a TV playing his programme.

If you’re of a sensitive disposition and looking to be offended, there’s a sketch in the first episode about a woman who accuses her husband of having an affair, but he eventually confesses that it’s not true, he had never met her before and never even got a kiss off her. Why? Because he was raping her. Suddenly, she forgives him for her accusation and they hug affectionately.

It’s obviously going to take a strong stomach in some cases and the brain to realise that he’s not taking the piss out of such a horrific crime, but is simply using that as a crux for a straight-forward gag about misinterpretation.

Still looking to be the next Mary Whitehouse? Then witness the one about the plumber who’s called round in an emergency. The shattered female house owner ushers him into the room where he’s to perform his task. It’s her baby… it’s suddenly not working. You realise he’s been called to fix her dead baby, but she’ll pay through the nose for him to resolve it. The end result is something that has to be seen to be believed as he re-routes the entire central plumbing system through the baby, which at least leaves him warm.

When originally shown on Channel 4, there were no advert breaks and no closing credits. If you wanted to find out who did what, the weblink ‘www.jamcredits.com’ was given onscreen in place of these. By the DVD release, they were updated to take account of the DVD production, but as time went on, the site is no longer available.

Most TV productions are now made in an anamorphic 16:9 ratio, but not Jam. The ratio changes… several times. It’s 4:3 full-frame for one sketch, then 16:9 letterbox for another, 16:9 anamorphic for a third and any combination of those afterwards. The quality varies widely between the sketches but that’s intentional and dependent upon the topic. When it’s meant to look clear there are no defects.

The sound is basic Dolby Surround, although the disc offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 option. Select this and it tells you instead to download the sound effects of distant artillery from the website and play them behind you as you watch the show. I’ve gone with the first option and given it full marks because the weird noises you get are just so incredibly effective.

Chapters-wise, this DVD couldn’t get any better. There’s one for every sketch in the show, making 12 in total. The menus are all animated with strange sound effects and subtitles are available in English for the hard of hearing – and you’re going to need them!

The extras are as follows:

  • Alternate versions of “Jam”:
    • Episode 1 appears in a tiny square in the centre of the screen,
    • Episode 2 is shrunk down as well but moves around the screen like a game of Pong,
    • Episode 3 is the Quadrilateral Lava Lamp Version that shifts about in a strange fashion,
    • Episode 4 is played in distorted fast-forward – and lasts about 8 seconds,
    • Episode 5 just gives you the first 19 seconds and
    • Episode 6 is “FFWD version re-expanded to original”. Work that one out!

  • Original Test Shoot (20 mins): Seven sketches including two doctor sketches, two women shooting a gun from a window and the first episode’s “It’s About Ryan” sketch.

  • London/Tokyo Jam Exhibition (24 mins): Eleven various sketches, but it’s after this that you get the optician rehearsal with Kevin Eldon

  • 2 Scenes with Original Audience Sound (5 mins): Two sketches, “Casual Parents” and “Infidel”, both complete with audience laughter in the background. In the latter when the husband reveals he was raping the woman, the audience roars with laughter! I never found the series laugh-out-loud funny like that, so let’s presume that’s all made up.

  • Adam & Joe’s Goitre (2½ mins): Adam & Joe do a spoof of Jam.

  • Undeleted Scenes: Can you get it to work? :)

  • Easter Eggs: There’s some bizarre extras here, by accessing the following:
    • Old Man Divorce Audition/Rehearsal (75 seconds): An old man and his ‘son’ with a funny eye discuss divorce. Should you keep away from the guy with the funny eye? Access this by selecting “Play All”, “Play All At Once”, then pressing ‘enter’ when you see the red dot.

      Don’t select the “Forced Viewing” option. It’s true that it disables all the usual transport controls and you’ll need to eject the disc manually to disable it!

    • Two in a Window rehearsal (30 seconds): On the Jam 2 menu, press right after 20 seconds when you see “Original Version” flash slightly. It looks painful!

    • Gush Rushes (30 seconds): The man who’d give Peter North a bad name. Select “Play All” and then it appears at the end of Jam 2.

    • Trailer for “My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117” (30 seconds): Between the credits of Jam 3, press ‘enter’ when you see the red dot. It would be nice to have seen the whole thing too.

    • Thick rehearsal (4½ mins): On the Jam 4 menu, press left during the loop when you see “Original Version” flash slightly. This is the woman coming to pick up a clamped car for a Mr Hunter. What’s really worrying is when you come across people like this in real life!

    • Doc words – first read-through (3 minutes): On the Jam 5 menu, press left after 20 seconds when you see “Original Version” flash slightly. How do they go through these sketches without cracking up?

    • Optician rehearsal (1½ mins): As mentioned earlier, this sketch starring Kevin Eldon comes at the end of the “London/Tokyo Jam Exhibition”


    Director: Chris Morris
    Producer: Chris Morris
    Writers: Chris Morris, Peter Baynham, Jane Bussman, David Quantick, Kevin Eldon, Mark Heap, Graham Linehan, Arthur Matthews, Amelia Bullmore and Robert Katz
    Music: Chris Morris and Adrian Sutton

    Cast :
    Chris Morris
    Amelia Bullmore
    David Cann
    Julia Davis
    Kevin Eldon
    Mark Heap
    Roz McCutcheon
    Victoria Heath-Smith
    Elizabeth Staines
    Robert Fitzsimmons
    Rupert Verrinder
    Lorelei King
    Jean Trend
    Michael Thomas
    Jack Richards
    Robert Katz
    Alexandra McLeod

    Detailed specs:
    Running time: 144 minutes * 2
    Year: 2000
    Distributor: VCI
    Region(s): 2, PAL
    Released: 2003
    Chapters: 63
    Cat.no: VCD 0266
    Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono)
    Languages: English
    Subtitles: English
    Screen ratio; Varies
    Disc Format: DVD9