An Absolute Classic: The IT Crowd (Season One)
It's pretty crazy to think that when this show debuted on February 3rd 2006, I was in high school. Yet me and my friends still knew that this show was something special. I think as a kid that had (by accident) embraced geek-culture so intensely from a young age, a show that didn't talk down to me, actually had the knowledge of such subjects to back up their references and bring in so many great actors and actresses was almost a dream. We had great underground, web based shows no doubt, but something based in the world of television with these aspects embedded in its subconscious was unmistakably absent. The Big Bang Theory was still a year away and even then, these two shows had completely different agendas. The Big Bang Theory was a show about geeks for the casual crowd, The IT Crowd was a show made by people with a knowledge of geek-culture, made for everyone. I guess what helps The IT Crowd's audience-wide mark is that you really, really don't need to know anything about technology to understand its appeal. It is a really funny show with references in the background. Where as The Big Bang Theory shoves references down your throat incessantly, The IT Crowd uses the art of subtlety to entice people who may, or may not, be interested in technology, old or new. Subtlety is a huge tool for success in the world of geek, people don't understand that putting someone on a camera and making them reference an old, low per-center video game is not funny. It's not. Basing your show around hilarious antics and situations and then hiding items in the background for later findings is genius and it works perfectly.
So yeah, scene for scene it's always a fascinating experience simply by virtue of the fact that whatever is hid in the background is usually crazy interesting. So how is the aesthetic? Well, I would say for the most part it's slightly grim-y, saturated but dark. In fact, when I think about it, it's exactly how I imagine geeks would want their room to be, which brings this element of real deep thought from the writers. As if they really thought out how the main characters would live and where they would want to live. You can definitely tell this is a UK made production. It just has a certain grimness and realness to it that the US rarely undertakes, the most recent use of this style of writing, camera work and aesthetic that I can think of is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but it's few and far between. Despite the fame and recognition Linehan has been greeted with from previous outings, he certainly likes to keep the production minimal and organic.
Now on to the characters, their quirks, their chemistry. Your main three here are Roy, played by Chris O'Dowd, Moss, played by Richard Ayoade and Jen Barber, played by Katherine Parkinson. All characters are certainly different and because of these differences, meld together so well. Roy and Moss although similar in certain ways, separate when it comes to common sense. Whilst Roy is just as much of a social-outcast as Moss, Moss generally seems to understand common social conversation and etiquette less than Roy does. Make no mistake though, although Roy may be less innocent in terms of how he views the world, both of them are recluses, very much introverted and probably a good reason as to why they are best friends. Jen understands how people work and can make friends pretty easily... however Roy and Moss don't make it easy for her. I may make it sound like a terrible romantic comedy when describing this, but it's nothing of the sort, just straight up hilarious to watch Jen have so many problems at the hands of these two.
The secondary characters are fantastic as well. For the most part, your two biggest recurring secondary characters are Reynholm and Richmond. Reynholm is Roy, Moss and Jen's boss, head of the whole company. His way of acting on any given day is constantly spontaneous and unpredictable. Richmond (played by Noel Fielding) is the goth... and to be honest that's all you really need to know, because saying anything more about him would just ruin it for you. The way that this show goes about revealing goth culture is absolutely hilarious, it's something that has to be seen to be believed. For the most part, these two characters are here to give the three stars some space from the camera and set up other story-lines, which is perfectly fine because considering what Richmond's story-line ends up being... well, yeah, as I've said, you will find out.
So, what are some of the best episodes and moments you ask? Well, I guess it's fair to say that considering this is (for me, personally) an absolute classic, pretty much all of the episodes in this season fall under that category. If I had to pick a few as far as episodes go, Calamity Jen, Fifty-Fifty and Aunt Irma Visits are prime examples of why this show scene for scene, joke for joke, gets its comedy down oh so well. I think the grand mixture of fantastic story and constantly on-point comedy brings a new level of funny, making it hard to hit it on par with this show. If Roy hadn't had “shit” on his forehead at the start of Fifty-Fifty, the payoff at the end wouldn't had been as fantastic as it was, this is a prime example of the comedy and story-writing synthesis that The IT Crowd does like few others have or can.
As for the best moments of the first season, my oh my are there so many. For starters, the end of the pilot episode where Moss tells everyone down in the office about the time when him and Roy went to Amsterdam and ordered prostitutes is absolutely classic and unexpected, leading to some very funny retaliation from Roy. The episode where they change the number for the police, leading to the number being changed to one of ridiculous length is great and ended up being a fan favorite, Roy taking Jen's shoes off near the end of the Calamity Jen episode is probably my favorite moment of any episode for reasons I won't ruin and to end, Moss exclaiming “I am going to murder you... you bloody woman” is pretty great too.
I think what surprises me most about my love of this show is that at its core... it really is an old-timey show. The jokes seem fairly obvious, the story-lines go in the obvious direction, hell, they even have a laugh track in there, in a time when most people at best would call laugh tracks out as “annoying”. But I guess when something truly is just fantastic comedy, it doesn't matter if it feels old or fresh, it just... works and that's what the IT Crowd did, they took a formula from pre-existing shows and made it better. The IT Crowd: Season One is a season of television I will forever advocate as one of the best comedy seasons available. Please, for the sake of your funny-bone, check this out.