In the UK: Fridays, C4, 9.30pm. Repeated on C4+1 an hour later. Obviously.
In the US: Being remade by NBC as we speak.
Characters re-cast: 0
Major characters gotten rid of: 1 (next episode)
Major new characters: 1 (next episode)
Format change percentage: 0%
When you think about it, a big chunk of classic – and not so classic – British sitcoms are set in an office of sorts. For example, On the Buses, Are You Being Served, even Dad's Army are all work-based sitcoms. However, The Office, for obvious reasons and not just its name, has occluded these in most people's minds and prevented any subsequent office-based sitcoms from emerging (the reverse is true in the US). Indeed, The Office has started a whole number of trends, including a veering towards cringe-comedy rather than joke-based comedy.
However, it's fitting that The IT Crowd has been trying its best to buck that trend, since it has The Office's producer Ash Atalla at the helm. The IT Crowd is sort of the flipside of The Office. It's traditionally filmed, with traditional characters, traditional jokes and traditional plots.
It's also funny. At least, I think so.
Now, it must be confessed that the first series was a tad uneven. A good start and a good finish, but a few hit and miss episodes in between.
The second series again starts off on a high. A little plot-free, it essentially revolves around Jen's attempts to discover whether a potential boyfriend is gay and her clueless co-workers' inviting of themselves on her date, which turns out to be to a trip to see 'Gay! A gay musical'.
Whereas The Office would have massively long pauses while everyone looks aghast at the political incorrectness of it all, as the physically disabled are tipped out of wheelchairs, the Irish are mocked and elements of gay culture satirised, The IT Crowd simply mines it all for laughs, with Graham Linehan's sense of the ridiculous leading everything to ever more surreal levels, with everyone being hoist on the petard of their own prejudices. It's not plausible, but it is funny.
The cast are on good form, with Katherine Parkinson toning down her shouting from last year and Richard Ayoade finally finding his way with the same performance he always give with every character he's ever played - he's actually funny now (who'd have thought it). Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh) returns as Richmond, the goth who lives in the basement with the IT team, and is suitably Fielding-esque. Chris Morris is KIA as of next episode, so fingers crossed he'll have a good replacement.
New viewers should be able to tune in without much problem, since the characters are pretty self-explanatory (Roy's the Irish guy who's a bit workshy; Moss is the 100% Asperger's guy; Jen's the socially skilled manager who's also an inveterate liar); regular viewers will be able to dive straight in for more of the same, but funnier. For indeed, the first episode offered more laughs than I've had in a long time.
Anyway, treasure it while you can because Ayoade is in the US for the NBC remake, so it's either the last series or there's going to be some recasting next series, too.
Here's a clip to send you on your way. You should be able to find the whole episode on YouTube if you look hard enough.