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2011/08/20

The IT Crowd: Pounding Into the Future!

By Jav Rivera

Not long ago I was introduced to the UK television series The IT Crowd.  After a few episodes, and after my side hurt from laughing, I realized I hadn’t enjoyed a TV series this much and this consistently since the time that Seinfeld was originally on the air.  And like Seinfeld, this series has a perfect ensemble cast: Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Moss (Richard Ayoade), Roy (Chris O'Dowd), and Douglas (Matt Berry), all of whom have had great success on this and other projects.  It’s no wonder the series has won several awards including: 2009 BAFTA Best Situation Comedy, 2009 British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Actress Award (for Katherine Parkinson), and many more.

Moss (Richard Ayoade), Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Roy (Chris O'Dowd)
The show boasts some of the finest actors and writers, as well as its creator Graham Linehan who also created the shows Father Ted and Black Books, both of which are award-winning series. The IT Crowd follows the day-to-day activities of Reynholm Industries's two IT Technicians (Roy and Moss), their supervisor (Jen) who knows next to nothing about computers and a boss (Berry) whose sexy shenanigans has tainted his public image.

Moss (Richard Ayoade), Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Douglas (Matt Berry)
I was concerned when Denholm Reynholm, (the boss played by Christopher Morris in season one), was replaced by new boss Douglas in season two.  But my fears were laid to rest once I watched the episode entitled “Return of the Golden Child” where Douglas first appears.  I quickly fell in love with Douglas and more so with actor Matt Berry.  Imagine a Shakespearian actor overdramatizing the simplest things.  Honestly, I don’t know how the rest of the cast can remain in character when they’re around him.  It’s proof of how incredible these actors are, especially Parkinson who has several awkward and humorous scenes with Berry.

Denholm (Christopher Morris) and Douglas (Matt Berry)
It is Berry, in my opinion, who made the series reach to a new level of greatness.  Morris should be commended for his work as well and for being so humble about being replaced.  He even appears in another episode with Berry.  It should also be mentioned that Morris has gone on to great things including directing his feature debut, Four Lions.

The series is best enjoyed in order but if the first couple of episodes don’t convince you, I’d like to recommend my top 6 favorite episodes.

#6: “The Red Door” (Season 1, Episode 4).  In “The Red Door”, we are introduced to Richmond (played by Noel Fielding), a Goth co-worker who has been cast down to the basement as punishment for his “Gothicism”.  Richmond’s history is explored in hilarious flashbacks narrated by none other than Richmond himself.  The relationship between him and Denholm goes from nurturing to shame.  It’s a great character study of a very weird, loveable person.

Richmond (Noel Fielding) 
#5: “Jen the Fredo” (Season 4, Episode 1).  It’s Jen’s turn to shine as she takes on the job of Entertainment Manager for Reynholm Industries.  And despite everyone’s warning that she’s not the right “man” for the job, Jen is determined to prove them all wrong.  Of course what she doesn’t know is that she’s basically taking out clients for a “good time”.  She quickly realizes she may be in over her head but Moss comes to her rescue in a very unexpected way.

Jen (Katherine Parkinson)
#4: “The Final Countdown” (Season 4, Episode 2).  Moss’s intelligence is put on display after he wins his way onto a famous game show.  He’s the top contender and is later invited to join a rare club that celebrates the show’s contestants.  Meanwhile, Roy is confronted with an aggressive window washer and an old schoolmate with no manners.  And Jen finds herself obsessed with finding out about Douglas’s super secret meetings.

Moss on The Final Countdown
#3: “Men Without Women” (Season 2, Episode 6).  Jen wants to spread her wings when she’s asked to become Douglas’s personal assistant.  Sexual harassment ensues.  Meanwhile, Moss and Roy enjoy their freedom by completing their list of things to do when Jen’s not around.  One of the highlights of this episode is their use of montage editing.  And of course Douglas’s advances are always a thing of hilarity. 
Douglas and Jen
#2: “The Haunting of Bill Crouse” (Season 1, Episode 5).  Jen wins Employee of the Month…well…not really.  But she thinks she does; everyone else thinks she died thanks to Moss’s spur of the moment fib.  Her recent date, Bill, starts spreading rumors about his scary yet sexy experience with Jen.  Roy attempts to flirt with a girl on the 7th floor named Julie or Judy but finds out he's been flirting with the wrong girl.

Judy (Cheryl Fergison)
#1: “The Speech” (Season 3, Episode 4).  Douglas meets the “woman” of his dreams.  Jen wins Employee of the Month.  Fortunately for Jen it’s real this time. Unfortunately, she has to give a speech in her area of expertise.  Of course she knows nothing about her area of expertise so Moss and Roy come in to save the day (kinda) when they explain The Internet to her.  This episode once again utilizes the art of a great montage and Barry's new relationship with April is a thing of classic comedy.

"The Internet"
The show has an endless amount of quotable lines and original comedic moments.  To try and recreate this is impossible, which is probably why the US remake failed.  Hopefully no more attempts to Americanize the show will occur.  This is British humor with universal comedy – too perfect to change.  Like Seinfeld, The IT Crowd has something that rare shows have: the ability to watch repeatedly.  The more you watch it, the funnier it becomes.  I’ve lost track on how many times I’ve watched this series, let alone these specific six episodes.

Roy, Jen, Moss and Douglas
The show currently has four seasons and a fifth has been commissioned. Until then, add The IT Crowd to your Netflix queue (which is also available on streaming) and join Jen, Moss, Roy and Douglas in their office shenanigans.

For more information on the show and to view behind-the-scenes videos visit their official website here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-it-crowd

And look for their official game located here (warning: it can be a bit addicting): http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-it-crowd/articles/the-it-crowd-game


TRIVIA: In addition to their success on The IT Crowd, here are some projects that feature the cast.

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