Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.
Series: The IT Crowd
Number of Seasons: 4 and a one-off special
Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, DVD, Amazon Instant
What’s the show about?
THE IT CROWD is a British sitcom set in Reynholm Industries, a fictional company located in London. The series follows three members of the company’s IT department: technicians Moss and Roy (a couple of “standard nerds”) and their “Relationship Manager” Jen, who (like most of the employees at Reynholm Industries) isn’t very knowledgeable when it comes to computers. The trio don’t think they always get the respect and recognition they deserve for their hard work, although Roy does try to do as little as possible since he despises the job. The trio usually find themselves in awkward situations, and many times it’s because of the antics of their intimidating and ridiculous boss Denholm Reynholm, and in later episodes, his son Douglas.
Why should I watch it?
The reason why you should watch THE IT CROWD is very simple: it’s flippin’ hilarious. The series was written and created Graham Linehan, and if you’ve seen his FATHER TED or BLACK BOOKS (two other extremely amusing series), then you’ll know what to expect from THE IT CROWD.
When I saw the first season of THE IT CROWD, it was right when THE BIG BANG THEORY was about to debut, and I wasn’t surprised when people started to compare the two geek-centric shows. But while both series feature nerds, Moss and Roy are much more relatable than the gang on the CBS series. Moss lives with his Mum, and Roy doesn’t have the greatest luck with women. Moss doesn’t either, but the only time he shows any interest in the other sex is when he develops a crush on the company’s psychiatrist. The “geekiness” of the series also never goes so over-the-top it feels out of place, or forced. Moss and Roy’s office looks like an actually nerd work place, and not just a set filled with pop culture and comic book references.
All three main cast members (Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson) do fantastic work on the series, but it’s Ayoade’s uber nerd Moss who steals the show. Richard Ayoade is more known over here in the colonies for his directorial efforts (SUBMARINE, THE DOUBLE) than for his acting (THE WATCH), but he’s brilliant on THE IT CROWD. From the way he says, “Hello Jen!” to his explanation as to why he’s inside a claw machine (“I may be able to get an iPhone without giving any money to Apple! I’ll be living the dream!”) you can’t help but laugh at almost everything he does and says on the show.
However, the series wouldn’t be the same or as good without Chris O’Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS, CALVARY) as Roy and Katherine Parkinson (PIRATE RADIO/THE BOAT THAT ROCKED) as Jen. (If you want proof, go find the leaked pilot for the U.S. version NBC almost picked up starring Ayoade, Joel McHale as Roy, Jessica St. Clair as Jen and Rocky Carroll as Denholm.) Roy isn’t as socially inept as Moss, but he’s still a pretty big nerd who isn’t always super comfortable in social situations. Jen does a little better when dealing with people than both of them, but more often than not, will stick her foot in her mouth, or in one case, under the boot of one of Reynholm Industries’ Japanese business partners.
The three other actors who have recurring roles on the series are FOUR LIONS director and NATHAN BARLEY creator Chris Morris as Denholm Reynholm, Matt Berry (GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE, SNUFF BOX) as his womanizing son Douglas, and Noel Fielding (THE MIGHTY BOOSH, NOEL FIELDING’S LUXURY COMEDY) as Richmond, a polite goth Jen discovers living in the server room at Reynholm Industries. Some fans didn’t like how Douglas kind of took over the later episodes, which is a fair argument. Douglas does have a bigger role on the series compared to Morris’ Denholm, but I don’t think him mingling more with the IT gang is a bad thing. The character is quite silly though, so your mileage may vary when it comes to Douglas Reynholm.
THE IT CROWD doesn’t have a “will they or won’t they?” couple (like say THE OFFICE, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER or again, THE BIG BANG THEORY) with their characters, and to be honest, I think it’s one of the strengths of the show. Too often a couple like that ends up hurting a show more than it helps, but THE IT CROWD never forgets the most important thing for a sitcom is to be funny. And THE IT CROWD is very, very funny.
THE IT CROWD is all about quality over quantity (25 episodes total; 6 per season plus the series finale special), and picking a best season isn’t an easy task. I know it sounds like a cop out, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with any episode or season of THE IT CROWD.
So I’m going to cheat a little here, and go with the first and fourth seasons. “The Haunting of Bill Crouse” and “50-50” from season one are two of my favorite episodes, and besides the introduction of Noel Fielding’s Richmond, the first season also features the most appearances by Chris Morris' Denholm Reynholm. I love Matt Berry's Douglas, but I have a huge soft spot for Mr. Morris.
As for the fourth season, the payoff joke at the end of “The Final Countdown” involving Ray and window washers is priceless, and even if you don’t know anything about Countdown, you’ll enjoy the exclusive club Moss joins after appearing on the British game show. “Jen the Fredo” might be the geekiest episode of the series, and there is just so much I love about the season four finale “Reynholm vs Reynholm.” I don’t want to spoil anything though, so all I’ll say is female Chekov, Goth 2 Boss and damp squid.
THE IT CROWD is just a flat-out funny and entertaining sitcom that is definitely worth checking out. With its fun characters, great performances and very solid writing, the replay value of the series is high, and you’ll want to rewatch it all over again as soon as you finish the last episode. And the next time someone’s computers isn’t working, I promise the only thing you’ll be thinking is “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” THE IT CROWD is one of my favorite comedy series of all time, so I’m sure during this review it has felt as if all I’m doing is talking about how awesome it is, but it really is that good. If you have a few hours to kill, I highly recommend you spend them with THE IT CROWD.
Extra Tidbit:Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding have worked together on seven different projects (THE MIGHTY BOOSH, GARTH MARENGHI’S DARKPLACE, AD/BC: A ROCK OPERA, NATHAN BARLEY, THE IT CROWD, BUNNY AND THE BULL, NOEL FIELDING’S LUXURY COMEDY) and were on the same team for the 2010 and 2013 editions of Channel 4’s THE BIG FAT QUIZ OF THE YEAR.