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THE IT CROWD: THE COMPLETE SERIES

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, Christopher Morris, Matt Berry, Noel Fielding
Creator: Graham Linehan
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.1
Video: Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: MPI
Features: See Review
Length: 617 Minutes
Release Date: November 1, 2016

How can you two LIVE like this?”

How…can…you…two…”

DON’T GOOGLE THE QUESTION, MOSS!”

Shows ****

Like many, I suppose, I first heard about The IT Crowd from…well…the IT crowd.

Being an IT-wannabe myself, but not quite smart enough to make the grade, I tend to hang out with our team at my workplace. They just seem to share an amusing language and approach to work, life, and everything, and are the closest I’ve ever come to a ‘clique’ I wanted to join.

Whenever an issue came up, one would always say “have you tried turning it off and on again?” with chuckles and high-fives. Eventually, they let me in on the joke, and told me about a British comedy series I simply had to see.

My wife and I sought out and watched all 24 episodes. Then again. Then a third time. Then we started just picking and choosing specific episodes based on our mood. There was a good stretch in my home where a certain segment of the evening was always set aside for The IT Crowd.

Created by Graham Linehan, it’s simply the funniest and best situation comedy I’ve seen in forever. I don’t, and have never, understood the appeal of The Big Bang Theory. The IT Crowd, however, I get.

It takes place at Reynholm Industries, where a plucky young lady with big aspirations named Jen (Parkinson) arrives for her first day. In addition to ambition, she has a penchant for ‘embellishing’ her CV (that’s résumé, for us Yanks), and ends up being put in charge of the IT department, for which she really has zero qualifications.

The department is two “standard nerds” (from boss Denholm Reynholm, played by Morris). They are Roy (O’Dowd) and Moss (Ayoade), who are distressed to find a know-nothing is suddenly manager of their carefully protected world. Both are smart, with Roy being the lazy one who spends more time trying to get out of work than working, and Moss as the shier one consumed by his world of electronics and geekdom. And Jen? Not exactly enthused at the proposition either, considering they work in a junked-out basement.

The characters drive the series, and with all episodes written by Linehan, it’s a carefully constructed fantasy world of the overlooked seeking respectability. As the series progressed over 4 seasons, the boss would change from the brash Denholm to his son Douglas (Berry), an inspired change in my favorite episode “Return of the Golden Child”. Douglas is as clueless as his father, but his lusty penchant for Jen and other ladies in his office make him a constant threat to his own company.

Then there’s Richmond (Fielding), who appears in the middle of the first season, and…well, you just have to see him to believe him. A one-time corporate man who was second in command, he ended up relegated to the IT department when he turned Goth.

It’s a hilarious show with endlessly loveable people, and this set even includes the return of the cast for a full final episode, to give all of them…well, the ending they deserved. It was a testament to Linehan’s vision that all came back for it, including Chris O’Dowd, who has since became a big star in his own right.

My real favorite, though, is Matt Berry, who had success in other British comedies including Snuff Box. In addition to his great vocal delivery and comic timing, he’s also a songwriter and musician (a serious one), and I actually have collected a number of his albums since discovering the show…they’re worth checking out.

British comedy has always been cutting edge, and unafraid to go into a few areas still unseen on American TV. I mean, can they really drop the F-bomb on British television? One episode even pounds the point home hysterically with the use of a “profanity button” to bleep some harsh language, but sticks a friendly tongue out at us by “missing” a few.

All good things must end, and it’s odd that four full seasons of the show amount to only 24 episodes total, which here would only be a single season of…well…24. But if it lacks in quantity, it makes up for it with quality. This show is a warm, sweet, laugh riot from start to finish. Check out a few episodes and you can start chatting up your own company’s IT team. On their terms.

Video ***

The video is widescreen, but not anamorphic, yet looks quite good. I wish there were a high definition version because one of the fun things fans do is look around at the junky basement for all the hidden geek-culture references. Still, a decent job, no complaints.

Audio **

The 2.1 track is serviceable, but not remarkable…clean and clear, with minimal dynamic range. It IS a television comedy, after all.

Features ***

The extras include select-episode commentary and an interview from Graham Linehan, some deleted scenes, a few short featurettes, outtakes, an original title sequence animatic, and the Sweet Billy Pilgrim performance of “Kalypso”.

Summary:

Standard nerds around the world, rejoice…the complete experience of The IT Crowd is here and available for your pleasure. If you turn it off, you’ll definitely turn it on again soon.

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