Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A New Find: "The IT Crowd"

We were recently introduced to a Britcom that's been around for awhile, long enough to get nominated for a bunch of BAFTAs, British Comedy Awards and International Emmys, and to spawn Americanized and Germanicized versions.

New to us, not new at all to discerning viewers, "The IT Crowd," which can apparently be pronounced either as the "it" or the "I.T.," as in Information Technology, crowd, involves the three odd members of the tech department at a company called Reynholm Industries. From left on the front of the Season 2 DVD, shown here, you'll see the three main members of the team. There's Roy, played by Chris O'Dowd, who seems to know something about computers but not about dealing with people; Jen, played by Katherine Parkinson, who knows nothing about computers but talked herself into a job, anyway; and Moss, the one with the intriguing side part in his hair, played by Richard Ayoade. We learn at some point in the series that Moss lives at home with his mother, and she's the one who chooses his lovely wardrobe of flood pants and little plaid shirts and ties. That certainly makes sense. They're all fairly clueless in their own ways, with some awkward and unfortunate interactions with normal people.

Parkinson is the one with a trophy on her shelf -- she won the award for Best Comedy Actress at the 2009 British Comedy Awards for her role as Jen -- but Ayoade is probably the break-out star. When the American version was being proposed, Ayoade and his character of Moss were included, and he is now starring in "The Watch," just released yesterday, with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill. Ayoade even made the poster.

"The IT Crowd" is especially hilarious to people who work with computers and recognize the stereotypes and jokes, but it seems to have worked with the non-techies in the crowd, as well. And if those American and German versions didn't work, well, it's certainly not the fault of creator Graham Linehan, since his original British show is absolutely hilarious, on-target and distinctive. Lineham is also the creative mind behind "Father Ted" and "Black Books," both of which show up on PBS in the U.S. fairly often.

Of the episodes I've seen so far, the Season 2 opener, "The Work Outing," stood out for all the right reasons. In that one, Jen has a date with a man named Phil, who she thinks is a good dating prospect. But then he takes her (with Moss and Roy in tow) to the theater to see "Gay! The Gay Musical," which makes Jen think her date might possibly be, oh, I don't know, maybe gay? Meanwhile, neither Roy nor Moss is comfortable with the theater bathroom and its unpleasant attendant, so Roy tries to use the handicapped bathroom but gets caught, with increasingly complicated repercussions, and Moss goes for the staff bathroom, getting himself swept up in a different kind of drama.

All 24 episodes of "The IT Crowd" are available on Netflix or Amazon. And they're definitely worth your while.

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