A Dynamic Go-Getter, A Genius, And A Man From Ireland
In my forty plus years on this planet, I’ve grown very fond of a number of British sitcoms and science fiction shows. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up in rural Louisiana and had only four or five (if the weather was right) channels to choose from on my television set. Shows like Mr. Bean, Are You Being Served?, Red Dwarf, Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, and Fawlty Towers became favorites of mine. They still are to this day.
These days I have BBC America and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. I have access now to more British programming than I’ve ever had before and I’ve grown to love shows like Primeval, Poldark, and a recently discovered gem called The IT Crowd.
Yes, I’m well aware that this show premiered in 2006, but I’ve only been streaming shows on Netflix since earlier this year. I’ve seen Moss (Richard Ayoade) plastered on plenty of items at conventions but never really sought out the show. I haven’t even met anyone that has mentioned the program, so I just assumed that its audience was small and cultish and thus the only reason that Moss’ face even made it on a t-shirt at a convention.
Well, if the show is cultish, I’m in a cult. I laughed until I cried on multiple occasions while watching this show. Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Moss are a perfect comedic trio. Jen is the most sane character in the lot, but she lies to get her position as the head of IT and suffers at the hands of Roy and Moss as a result. Her lack of actual computer skills is exposed on numerous occasions (my favorite being when she is given the “internet” to show off as part of a company presentation). Moss is the brilliant but socially awkward everynerd. He doesn’t fit in very well but doesn’t seem to mind that fact. Roy is a slacker and underachiever who always seems to find himself in bizarre situations like being trapped under the desk of two female workers, accidentally calling for help in the handicapped toilet (and subsequently pretending to be disabled in order to stay out of trouble), and getting kissed on the bottom by a masseur.
This core trio moves the show along, but three other characters inject their own strange humor into the series. Denholm Reynholm (Christopher Morris) is the founder and CEO of Reynholm Industries, the company where Moss, Jen, and Roy are employed. He’s over-the-top and makes swift and drastic decisions like firing entire floors for not being team players. He exits the series in its second season, but in a fashion that is perfectly fitting for his character.
After Denholm’s exit, his son, Douglas (Matt Berry), takes over the company. While his father was rather eccentric, he seemed to have at least a slight clue as to what was going on in his company. Douglas, on the other hand, is a womanizer, hard partying, and a general goofball. His libido guides his every decision and he spends much of the series chasing women, including Jen. He has absolutely no clue as to what he is doing in the company and is oblivious to that fact. He’s also oblivious to just about everything else as he pursues feminists, loudly proclaims that he’s on a “secret boss” show, and generally wants to do nothing more than have fun.
Perhaps the most bizarre (and also one of the funniest characters) in the entire series is Richmond Avenal (Noel Fielding). He’s the resident goth that apparently works in IT but, much like Jen, doesn’t really know anything about computers. He started out as an executive who was on the fast track to success until the band Cradle of Filth changed his life with their music. He went full goth and was thus relegated to the basement where even his fellow social outcasts, Roy and Moss, don’t like to be around him. The character only appears in a few episodes, but these small doses make him even funnier.
I’ve fallen completely in love with this show. It was only produced for four seasons (series) and a fifth series special, limiting it to only twenty five total episodes, but somehow that limited amount is perfect, as a show as goofy and left-of-center as The IT Crowd could easily slip into a silly loop of unfunny shows.
My favorite episodes include:
The Red Door: This episode introduces us to Richmond Avenal. It also features Roy getting trapped under a desk.
The Haunting of Bill Crouse: Quite possibly my favorite show of the entire series. In this episode, Jen has a terrible date with Bill Crouse, a fellow Reynholm employee. Desperate to avoid Bill, Jen asks Moss to “tell him I’m busy” but whenever Bill questions Moss about what Jen is actually doing, Moss lies and tells Bill that Jen has passed away. Bill then goes about telling everyone that he was the last man to sleep with Jen, but she keeps popping up in strange ways that convince Bill that she’s haunting him.
The Work Outing: This one is tied with The Haunting of Bill Crouse as one of my favorites. Roy and Moss tag along with Jen and a new suitor, Phillip, to a musical. Roy and Moss assume that Phillip is gay and provide Jen with multiple reasons as to why they’ve come to this conclusion. Jen sets out to prove them wrong. While at the play (which I won’t reveal the name of because I don’t want to spoil anything), Roy and Moss end up using the handicapped toilet and employee toilet respectively. They both end up in crazy situations, particularly Roy. Of note in this episode is that Richard Ayoade’s wife in real life, the lovely Lydia Fox, portrays one of the actors in the musical.
The Speech: Jen wins “Employee of the Month” in this episode and asks Roy and Moss to help her write her acceptance speech. They decide to make fun of her and entrust her with the “internet,” a black box with a light on it. They sit in on the speech to see her embarrass herself but instead find out that the rest of the company is just as clueless about the web as she is. Meanwhile Douglas has fallen in love with a woman that used to be a man. Misunderstanding her at first, he falls madly in love with her. The duo go about doing things together and having an epic time. When Douglas realizes the truth, however, the pair break into a huge (and humorous) fight that ends up with them crashing into Jen’s speech and knocking over the “internet” when they make their entrance. Chaos ensues.
Italian For Beginners: Jen attempts to impress Douglas by claiming that she can understand and speak Italian. She can’t, so Moss comes up with a translation program that she uses on her laptop during meetings. When it comes time to translate an Italian businessman in the same room, however, Douglas prohibits the use of the laptop in case it’s “connected to the internet” where someone can listen in and steal their business plans. She mumbles jibberish until the Italian becomes enraged and storms out of the office. Moss attempts to get an iPhone after he drops his old phone in the toilet and gets stuck in a crane machine. Roy drives himself nuts attempting to figure out how his girlfriend’s parents died in a terrible fire….at a Sea Parks (“Ya know, like Sea World”).
In all honesty I could list pretty much every episode from the series. It’s that funny. There was an American and German attempt at recreating the show for those respective countries, but both failed miserably. I’ve seen Chris O’Dowd in other work, but I haven’t seen the rest of this stellar cast in anything. I’ve got to track down more of their work!
If you’ve ever watched The IT Crowd, let me know what you think about it. Do you have a favorite episode? What else have you seen the cast perform in? Let me know in the comments!
As always, thanks for reading. I plan on posting about the upcoming Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette next month! Keep an eye out for it!