Search This Blog

Monday, May 17, 2010

THE IT CROWD series 2 and 3 (2007/2008)

Our "heroes": (L-R) Moss (Richard Ayoade), Jen (Katherine Parkinson) and Roy (Chris O'Dowd).

When I was last in the U.K., My Man in Eastbourne gave me the DVD of the second series of THE IT CROWD, a Channel 4 sitcom written by Graham Linehan, one of the masterminds behind the brilliant FATHER TED. I was kind of put off by being handed the second disc in a series I'd never heard of, being one of those folks who like to start on a new show from Episode One, so I let the DVD lay unwatched for almost a year, only deigning to check it out after finally watching the entirety of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE (2004), another show given to me by My Man in Eastbourne. I must have been in an odd mood when I first attempted to sit through GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE because I found it kind of lame, but I gave it a second chance two weeks ago and it hit me in all the right ways, proving itself to be a very funny and accurate sendup of crappy 1980's horror programs and deserving of every bit of its considerable cult rep. With My Man in Eastbourne's recommendation having proven solid, I dusted off THE IT CROWD and popped it into my DVD player, aware that two of the actors from GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE were in it. What I got was a very pleasant surprise which I enjoyed so much that I picked up the third series without hesitation.

From what My Man in Eastbourne told me, as well as opinions voiced by some friends from Ireland — some of the self-proclaimed Eclectic Micks — and, most tellingly, the show's own creator, the first series of THE IT CROWD was rather mediocre and more of shakedown run that allowed the writer and cast to work out the kinks than anything else, and watching it was in no way necessary to understanding the show's setup and characters. Diving in on the second series with no prior knowledge of the show proved no problem since the setup is about as simple as it gets; THE IT CROWD is essentially an office comedy that follows the daily misadventures of a trio of corporate IT geeks at the headquarters of Reynholm Industries who get the job done, but when outside of their insular little world they are each a fucking disaster for numerous reasons. There's the uber-geeky, childlike and socially dysfunctional Moss (Richard Ayoade, late of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE), Irish engineer Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and their computer-illiterate coordinator, Jen (Katherine Parkinson), all of whom are relegated to a basement work area that keeps their odd and loserly behavior out of the faces of the company, and it's a good thing they have jobs at Reynholm Industries because one would be hard pressed as to where else to place any of them. Speaking of which, there's also the seldom-seen Richmond (Noel Fielding), another uber-geek who compounded his social isolation by discovering Cradle of Filth and becoming a full-blown Goth overnight, but his presence is sadly minimal.

Not Screaming Lord Sutch: Noel Fielding as Richmond.

Rounding out the cast is Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry, also late of GARTH MARENGHI'S DARK PLACE), the outrageously priapic son of the company's founder, who shows up from out of nowhere to assume CEO duties when his embezzling dad commits suicide by jumping out of the building's meeting room window to his death in a successful attempt to thwart the encroaching authorities.

Matt Berry as the incredible Douglas Reynholm.

A privileged asshole who speaks in an exaggeratedly florid manner and has absolutely no clue about running a corporation (or anything else, for that matter), Reynholm is a relentlessly sleazy womanizer of the highest order who disappeared for seven years following allegations of having murdered his wife, coupled with a sexual harassment suit, and appearing to have learned nothing whatsoever after being busted for his douche-chill-inducing improprieties. Immediately setting his sights on Jen and every other woman in the company, Reynholm's ultra-sleazy shenanigans are a comedic goldmine and Matt Berry is simply hilarious in the role.

Out of the twelve episodes in series 2 and 3, I only found one to be anything less than laugh-out-loud funny ("Calendar Geeks") and the vast majority are gems. The cream of the impressive crop are:
  • "The Work Outing"-the opener for series 2, this concerns Jen, with Roy and Moss in tow, going on a date to a West End musical with her new boyfriend, a man that her co-workers feel in no uncertain terms is gay. This kind of story has been done before, but not with the results found here, and the scenes from the musical are sheer genius.
  • "Moss and the German"-in an attempt to open up his outside interests, Moss signs up for what he thinks is a German cooking course and encounters something quite unexpected.
  • "The Dinner Party"-Jen throws a dinner party that mingles her non-work friends and her bizarre co-workers, including Richmond the Goth.
  • "From Hell"-the series 3 opener, in which Jen becomes worried that the contractor working on her flat is the same one that Roy saw pissing into clients' sinks on the reality show "Builders from Hell."
  • "Are We Not Men?"-A chronicle of what goes hideously wrong when Moss and Roy discover a website that allows them to bluff their way through pub football conversations with "proper" men.
  • "The Speech"-When Jen wins Employee of the Month (for no feasible reason), she enlists Roy and Moss to write her acceptance speech in an effort to disguise the fact that she knows nothing about what an IT department actually does. What she does not consider is that while her co-workers are geeky technocrats, and therefore the perfect people to write her speech, they also have a great flair for pulling the most evil of practical jokes...
  • "Friendface"-in which the cast sign up on the networking site Friendface and an escalating series of social disasters hilariously ensues.
So I strongly recommend that you give THE IT CROWD a look, especially if you yourself are a geek or have every worked in a capacity as such.


liquidlen said...

Seconded. Chanced upon this show on BBC America and fell in love instantly. Great great stuff, and the red-headed bird is my kind of gal.

Deacon Blue said...

And Netflix has it available for instant viewing online. Sweet. So I guess I'll start with Season 1 just for the hell of it.

I should probably finish Black Adder series 3 and 4 first though.

So many Brit shows, so little time...

C said...

I love the whole series, top to bottom. The "pimped your phone girlfriend" line still sends my wife into gales of laughter.