The IT Crowd: The Complete First Season (2009, MPI Home Video)
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I love when a new show meets all expectations — and surpasses them, as is the case with the BBCÁ¢€â„¢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 OÁ¢€â„¢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 itÁ¢€â„¢s that British sensibility and its no-holds-barred approach to comedy that makes it stand out. For instance, the episode Á¢€Å“Fifty-FiftyÁ¢€ opens with Roy on a date and a brown smear on his forehead. When his date exclaims Á¢€Å“you have shit on your head,Á¢€ Roy is mortified. To prove that the brown smear is chocolate, he licks the substance. While he claims it is chocolate, itÁ¢€â„¢s never really clear, leaving us wondering if somehow, Roy actually got shit on his head before his date. U.S. standards wouldnÁ¢€â„¢t let that get past the script stage.
The show also isnÁ¢€â„¢t afraid to stretch the boundaries of the fourth wall, as displayed in Á¢€Å“The Red Door,Á¢€ guest-starring The Mighty BooshÁ¢€â„¢s Noel Fielding as Richmond, a lonely goth who is actually the fourth member of the IT team. Richmond stays hidden away behind a red door next to the loud server machines. As he recalls his history at Reynholm, he constantly looks off-stage, setting up flashbacks. When doing this the rest of the cast positions themselves just behind him, looking straight at the camera. ItÁ¢€â„¢s an age old gag, breaking the fourth wall between the television and the audience (think Jack Benny) but because it comes out of left field (like the rest of this show), the gag works, and the results are hilarious.
It’s brilliantly written and nicely directed, but none of the zaniness would work if the three leads didnÁ¢€â„¢t mesh together so well. OÁ¢€â„¢Dowd is the perfect mix of anger, angst and idiocy, while Parkinson plays the dimbulb Jen wondrously. But itÁ¢€â„¢s Ayoade that will keep you in stitches. From MossÁ¢€â„¢s awkward attire and weird hair, to the whiny pitched voice, Ayoade plays him as the heart and somewhat soul of The IT Crowd. Together these three fine actors are a perfect comedy team and one you should check out immediately of you have never heard of this series.
After finishing off these first six episodes of season one I was left wanting more. Not only do I look forward to checking out episodes on IFC, but I look forward to the other two seasons of The IT Crowd getting DVD treatment as well.