One of our first full series viewed via our recent Netflix subscription is the full run of The IT Crowd, a British sitcom from Channel 4. At first I thought it would be something like The Big Bang Theory with a bit more of a British flavor, but thankfully it's not just that. It's something else entirely.
Normally I'd review each season of a show individually but British shows are often trickier since they tend to be a lot shorter. And it's not like this wa a show with a seriously complicated meta-plot or anything like that. If anything the show is amazing in embracing how episodic it is. And therein lies a lot of the show's brilliance.
Synopsis: The IT Crowd is a British sitcom created by Graham Linehan for Channel 4. The show ran for four series of 6 episodes each and a special feature/movie episode at the very end of things.
The basic premise is that we have one Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), who is put in charge of the IT department of Reynholm Industries despite the fact she knows nothing about computers. There in their basement office she meets the company's IT staff composed of Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade). They're not exactly popular with the company but they're also not the most sociable guys and so they spend most of their time in their messy basement office just mucking about.
Over the course of the show they have some progression as characters but not a whole lot either. They don't move up in the company (for long) nor do they really improve on the personal relationship front. But hey the fun is to be found when them just all sitting around the office when you get down to it. Or maybe not.
What I Loved: The show's strongest point isn't in the show's one-liners. The jokes are okay individually but never quite overwhelming. What I found to be most brilliant about it is how they setup more complex joke scenarios with a slow build-up across several actions by the characters. This is probably best scene in episodes like S02E01 "The Work Outing" that started with a basic question of whether or not the guy Jen was seeing was gay yet ending with Roy in a wheelchair getting his photo in the paper and Moss serving to serve drinks at the bar of a theater. And how everything got to that point was just crazy amazing brilliant. That's totlly how you build up a joke and we had a lot of great moments like that all throughout the series.
And of course why the jokes work really relied on the clever balance of the three core characters of the show.There's a special love that naturally goes to Moss,who was pretty much the classic comedy "straight man" as it were, but grounded a lot in his almost blind geek naivety.
What Could Have Been Better: First, the show is too darned short. But hey, everyone says that.
Then you have the challenge of how the show relies heavily on stereotypes of all sorts that while somewhat offensive at least get you a pretty good laugh. A lot of comedy crosses certain lines and gets outright offensive and it's hard to say when it's fully appropriate or just plain rude. And if anything, it just goes to show that British shows can really take as much as they can give.
TL;DR: The IT Crowd is still a heck of a lot of fun and something you should totally try watching in your spare time if you have Netflix. You won't regret it.