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The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a new IFC show created by and starring David Cross of Arrested Development and Mr. Show fame, is both dry and amusing. A one-man show in the vein of FX’s summer series Louie, it’s clear that Cross is driving everything, and is at least making himself laugh in the process.

The show stars Cross as Todd Margaret, an awkward, naïve, and at times pathetically sympathetic guy who is sent to London to sell energy drinks after his boss, Brent Wilts (Cross’s Arrested Development and Running Wilde castmate, Will Arnett), mistakes him for a strong go-getter who grew up in Leeds. This is just the very beginning of the lies, and poor decisions, that drive the show. Each episode starts with Todd on trial, a judge listing his various crimes, so we know exactly where all this is going to end up. The fun is in watching Todd continue to dig himself deeper with each passing minute, but starts to become predictable when all he does is lie, and is horrible at it.

51aqwyc18vl_sl500_aa240_The IT Crowd: The Complete First Season (2009, MPI Home Video)
purchase this DVD from Amazon: DVD

I love when a new show meets all expectations — and surpasses them, as is the case with the BBC’s The IT Crowd, a workplace comedy that features one of my favorite character actors, Richard Ayoade. Fans of The Mighty Boosh, and especially Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, will recognize Ayoade as a gifted comedian with the ability to play just about any outlandish character thrown at him. In The IT Crowd, he portrays Moss, a socially inept, nerdy IT support person at a billion-dollar business, Reynholm Industries. Together with his partner, bitter slacker Roy (Chris O’Dowd), he forms a duo of computer geeks that finds themselves with a new boss, computer illiterate Jen (Katherine Parkinson) and must deal with the changes her arrival brings. This hilarious series has been airing on IFC since last fall and the first six episodes for the first season have just been released on a single DVD that comes with deleted scenes, a farcical documentary, and hidden outtakes.

Created by award-winning Graham Linehan, who also co-created the classic Father Ted, The IT Crowd may resemble the typical workplace comedy you may see in on network television in the U.S., but it’s that British sensibility and its no-holds-barred approach to comedy that makes it stand out. For instance, the episode “Fifty-Fifty” opens with Roy on a date and a brown smear on his forehead. When his date exclaims “you have shit on your head,” Roy is mortified. To prove that the brown smear is chocolate, he licks the substance. While he claims it is chocolate, it’s never really clear, leaving us wondering if somehow, Roy actually got shit on his head before his date. U.S. standards wouldn’t let that get past the script stage.