Complete First Season
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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he British import has become quite popular around Hollywood these days, particularly due to the decrease in original content. Out of all the different U.S. remakes in the works, however, very few ever make it to air. Usually, it’s because either the original series is better, or the humor just doesn’t translate. But in the case of “The IT Crowd,” it should have been a home run. There’s nothing more universal than office life, and when compared to some of the other single-camera sitcoms on TV, it’s easily one of the funniest in recent memory. The U.S. version may have been just another casualty of the Great British Remake-a-Thon, but the original series is more than good enough to exist on its own.
Created by the same people responsible for some of Britain’s best comedy series (“The Office," “Father Ted” and "Black Books"), “The IT Crowd” stars Chris O’Dowd and Richard Ayoade as a pair of geeks who work in the basement at Reynholm Industries answering IT calls with the standard reply, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” When their boss (Christopher Morris) hires a new manager for the IT department, however, Roy (O’Dowd) and Moss (Ayoade) hatch a plan to give her the boot. The spunky Jen (Katherine Parkinson) has a few skills that make up for her complete lack of computer knowledge, though, which she quickly uses to win their approval. Plus, they've all just been informed that if they can't work together as a team, they'll be fired.
Like most British comedy series, the first season of “The IT Crowd” is only six episodes long. Those who are quick to pass judgment might be tempted to give up after the first episode, but while the pilot borders on the not-so-good, the series definitely improves throughout the season. In fact, while the first three episodes rely on the kind of broad humor that Ricky Gervais’ “Extras” lampooned, the final three take much bigger risks with the comedy – like the introduction of Richmond the Goth (Noel Fielding), Reynholm's former second-in-command who now works alone in the server room, and the season finale plotline where Roy and Moss display PMS symptoms in synch with Jen’s period. Additionally, while the inclusion of laugh tracks tends to ruin most single-camera sitcoms, the one that appears here helps the jokes more than it hurts them.
All three leads are great in their respective roles, but Richard Ayoade is by far the funniest of the bunch. You could even go so far as to call him the saving grace of the show, because Parkinson is very hit and miss and O’Dowd constantly tows the line between funny and obnoxious. It’s not very often that the straight man gets a majority of the laughs, but Ayoade makes the most of his character’s Napoleon Dynamite-esque look and eccentric mannerisms. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that when it came to casting the U.S. remake, Ayoade was the only alumni brought on to reprise his role. It’s just too bad we’ll never see that version of the show, because if “The Office” has proved anything, it’s that comedy is funny no matter where you’re from.
Special Features: Along with boasting some of the coolest DVD menus ever, the single-disc release of Season One contains a handful of deleted scenes, a faux making-of featurette ("Behind the IT Crowd") that has been “shittily mastered for minimal video and audio performance,” and a techno horror short film called “Hello, Friend.” It isn’t much, but it’s more than you’d probably expect from an import like this.