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The IT Crowd? More Like The Hi-C Cloud! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 21st, 2012


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10:39 pm - The IT Crowd? More Like The Hi-C Cloud!
Last year, Fandom Steel Cage Match March Madness led to my finally checking out Community. This year, that distinction goes to The IT Crowd. I had heard about it for years, but it was only seeing hilarious Moss GIFs (and, of course, its presence on Netflix Instant) that convinced me I really did need to watch the show.

The IT Crowd follows the absurdly small IT department of Reynholm Industries, an absurdly large corporation whose function or product is never discussed. Despite taking up an entire building, the company's IT needs can be handled by two tech geeks in the basement. One is Moss, a nasal-voiced, socially awkward nerd. The other is Roy, an Irish-voiced, socially awkward nerd. Enter Jen, who claims to know about computers (spoiler warning: she doesn't) and becomes Relationship Manager. Where she manages...relationships. Or something.

Moss is basically the greatest. Although he has distanced himself from reality, he has truly embraced the special world that he lives in and he feels absolutely no shame about being a weirdo. In fact, it makes him kind of a badass at times. He is not good with women, but he doesn't really care. He is happy with who he is. Richard Ayoade gives him a distinct nasal voice and very deliberate intonation that make nearly everything he says comedy gold.

Roy is an unusual bloke. I wanted to own most of his geeky shirts, many of which I recognized. I also recognized all sorts of stickers and paraphernalia around the department; the set dressing is incredibly geeky. Unlike Moss, Roy generally lives in reality, but he's just not good at it. Roy has a penchant for getting himself into incredibly embarrassing, uncomfortable situations and just soldiering on through, especially if it means he'll get to sleep with a lady. He reminded me of Jeff from Coupling. Roy is slightly better with women than Moss, but not by much. Chris O'Dowd's lovable Irish brogue and general awkwardness make Roy terribly endearing.

Jen is a woman. She is 80% female stereotype, 20% actual character. She is, however, the only character who actually gets any character development, since she begins as, well, not a fish out of water, but more like a koala in water. She consistently misrepresents her own abilities, which leaves her scrambling to prove herself. She's a fuck-up, but she tries, she tries so hard (which is more than Roy ever does ["Have you tried turning it off and on again?" is his constant tech support refrain]). Katherine Parkinson joins Ayoade and O'Dowd in not being afraid to look ridiculous.

Douglas Reynholm is a hilarious sexpot. Although he is not the original CEO, he deserves special mention for being so funny and so very wrong. Matt Berry gives him a deep, sonorous voice and very deliberate intonation that make nearly everything he says comedy gold.

The show is largely an office comedy set in a very bizarre office, and the characters get into wacky, usually embarrassing situations. There was a lot that made me uncomfortable, and the show seemed incredibly, lazily sexist at times—I know sitcoms mine gender stereotypes for comedy all the time (like Coupling, for instance), but the show seemed to be just checking off all the clichés. The first two seasons had their moments of hilarity, but I wasn't truly addicted to the show, and I briefly considered just stopping. I'm very glad I didn't, though, because seasons three or four are much better, as the episodes tend to break the mold and take the characters out of the office more, expanding the strange sensibility into other environments. There is little to no real continuity (potentially major events are just one-episode jokes and never mentioned again), but there are some great callbacks.

The IT Crowd is not amazing. Its jokes don't always hit, and its plots can cross the line into poor taste. But it does have a great cast, and when it gets creative, it's really hilarious. It's absolutely worth it for the many times everything comes together. Or just because the characters themselves are generally funny, whatever they do! Go, you can watch it right now on Netflix Instant.

What, is it not working?

Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: System of a Down - Innervision

(28 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:hecubot
Date:June 22nd, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
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Emmett and I still riff on Roy's "leg disabled" storyline from the Gay: A Gay Musical episode.

The answer: acid.

Have you not watched The Mighty Boosh? That's what I think of when I think of Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade.

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
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I have not Booshed it up yet, save that one bizarre episode I watched at your place.
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From:pica_scribit
Date:June 22nd, 2012 06:52 am (UTC)
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I made a random friend at a friend's birthday party last year, and she ended up almost immediately crashing on my couch for a weekend. She introduced me to this show, and we watched all of it in one day. Very enjoyable, sexism aside, but perhaps not as brilliant as Spaced or Black Books. Still probably better than Peep Show, which I stuck with mostly out of morbid curiousity to see what would go horribly wrong next. I do love my Britcoms. I'm very much looking forward to watching this one again along with Mark, since swallowing it whole the way I did is not very conducive to remembering many of the specifics about the show. I did develop quite a fondness for Richmond, who made me all nostalgic for the gothy fun times of my Uni days.
[User Picture]
From:loopychew
Date:June 22nd, 2012 07:27 am (UTC)
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The Elders of the Internet approve of this post.
[User Picture]
From:amberlynne
Date:June 22nd, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
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I WILL PUT ON MY BIGGER GLASSES TO READ THIS POST!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC)
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SLIGHTLY LARGER, AMBER.

SLIGHTLY LARGER.

I EVEN LINKED THAT SCENE BECAUSE I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
[User Picture]
From:catalyst2
Date:June 22nd, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Moss' "Just walk away!", combined with his hand movement, is a common sight in our office. It seems so appropriate at times.
[User Picture]
From:sisterjune
Date:June 22nd, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
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I really wanted to like this. Cause the internet LOVES it. and I tried it TWICE. But I just, could not, get past, the sexism. Maybe its cause i'm a "humorless feminist" or maybe its cause I'm just so tired of sexual and racial stereotype jokes. So. tired. they are boring. they are lazy. they are not remotely funny. i'm sure there were times when this show IS funny. and I thot moss was so amusing from what little i got to see of him. but the sexism just killed it. shot it dead. i'm glad u mentioned it at least. because every rec i've ever seen of the show completely "neglects" to mention it. and so I went into the show expecting a fun romp and got a crap ton of sexism thrown at me instead. also that laugh track drives me bananas. IT IS NOT 2002 ANYMORE CAN WE PLS NOT. but oh well. they cant all be Spaced and Miranda. lol I think its about time for my bi-annual Spaced rewatch too. (I Still wanna check out Richard Ayoade's film Submarine, it looks very charming and I hope its more sophisticated in its humor than IT crowd was)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
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It's not a laugh track, by the way. They filmed in front of a live audience. But still, yeah, not a fan of those things.

I'm really hard to offend, and there are lots and lots of things people find sexist that just make me go bwuh what is wrong with that, so when I am calling your show out for lazy sexism...come on, guys. At least Coupling was creative and funny with its sexism! That was the point!
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From:sabra_n
Date:June 22nd, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I wanted to like The IT Crowd a lot more than I did - I ended up not even finishing the first season because it just wasn't giving me enough to compensate for things like "Wow, that Jen sure is fixated on shoes, because she's a lady and that's what the ladies are all about, amirite?" I was lucky enough to start my immersion in geek culture in feminist spaces, so basically, there was no point in my mind to putting up with the sexism to get the geekery, especially when the show just wasn't that funny. Maybe I'll try skipping to the 3rd season at some point, but I have about 15 other things on my docket first. (Farscape, Fringe, Slings & Arrows rewatch...good times.)

Truly one of my biggest "Internet, I am disappoint" moments. Maybe if I'd read an assessment as honest as this one instead of laboring under the delusion that this was going to be Black Books levels of delightfulness I would have watched more.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
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The first season is definitely the worst. The second season has some good episodes, but I think the third and fourth seasons are more consistently good. And I completely understand what you mean about the show not giving you enough to compensate for the lazy sexism; I felt that way too, but I kept going and made it to the good stuff.

That is a lot of rewatching.

I have been hearing about Black Books for a while. It is delightful, you say?
[User Picture]
From:sabra_n
Date:June 22nd, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Black Books is indeed delightful! Shortest possible summary:

It's about three codependent boozehounds who hang out in the used bookshop one of them owns and get up to shenanigans.

Slightly longer summary:

Dylan Moran plays Bernard Black, the misanthropic owner of the eponymous bookstore. He hates customers, people, and also you, and lives in filth while subsisting on a diet of wine and cigarettes. Tamsin Greig plays Fran, Bernard's best friend, who owns the shop next door and also has a very healthy appreciation of nicotine and booze. The show begins when Bernard hires sweet pushover Manny (Bill Bailey), an accountant, to do the books for the store and move in to share the apartment above it with him. Together, the three of them are...well, generally failures at life, but they're funny about it. I think most of the cast of Spaced guest-stars at some point, too.

Here's a fun fanvid for it, if you like. :)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Whaaaat Tamsin Greig! That is a good cast there. Plus Spaced guest stars, you say?

*adds to Netflix Instant queue*
[User Picture]
From:sabra_n
Date:June 22nd, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
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It's all on Hulu, too!
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From:skjaere
Date:June 23rd, 2012 10:44 am (UTC)
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Watch it. You will not regret this life choice.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 22nd, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Thing is, the sexism in Coupling is clever and witty, and the show itself is about gender stereotypes. It plays with them, embracing them ludicrously or hyperrationally, and upends them. There's just no real excuse or reason for The IT Crowd to do that shit except that, oh, this just happens on sitcoms.

I think the third and fourth seasons benefit greatly from the addition of Matt Berry as a regular. Douglas Reynholm is just wonderful. In a terrible way, that is.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 23rd, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
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Hunh. Maybe I need to rewatch. It has been a long time since I watched this show but I have zero memory of sexism that stood out to me not in an "this is intentional for this character" kind of way. Not saying it's not there of course. Just wondering how I forgot/glossed over it. All I really remember is laughing out loud A LOT.

Also, as an IT person, the turning it on and off again was extra hilarious to me because way too often it's the actual solution. I used to have a British coworker and I knew said coworker loved this show and on more than one occasion I had to preface the statement with "this is not just an IT Crowd reference, really."
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 23rd, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
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I have zero memory of sexism that stood out to me not in an "this is intentional for this character" kind of way.
But that's just it. Jen has an episode about SHOES. And then she has an episode about HER PERIOD. Hell, the fact that it's intentional for her character makes it worse because, like I said, it's just lazy. Oh, she's a woman, let's make her every character trait and plot revolve around stereotypically womanly things. It gets better, but it's still annoying.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 23rd, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
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I don't think I actually remember either of those episodes... Again, if I rewatched I might agree with you. At the same time, I know plenty of real people who may have traits that are viewed as stereotypical and a character displaying those traits isn't necessarily lazy because of it, unless they have no other traits beyond that, which I get is what you're saying was the case with Jen; I just don't recall it striking me that way at the time. It is entirely possible that later episodes in which it got better made me forgive (forget) earlier ones, or I just didn't care enough about that character for it to distract me from the things I did enjoy. I watched all 4 seasons over 2 days. So it's hard for me to distinguish between the seasons at all, and for me it definitely ended on an upnote so I might just be pulling a Gypsy and forgiving them for anything because of a strong finish. I even went back to my original response when I watched it to see if I'm forgetting being bothered by Jen, but I didn't seem to say anything one way or the other.

This is going to bug me now. I'd like to think my memory is better than this.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 23rd, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
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I watched all 4 seasons over 2 days.
This is probably it. With less time for the early episodes to sit with you, it was the later, better episodes that left the most lasting impression.
[User Picture]
From:trailer_spot
Date:June 24th, 2012 10:40 am (UTC)
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"and the show seemed incredibly, lazily sexist at times" ... "and its plots can cross the line into poor taste"

I coincidentally also watched the first few episodes a few weeks ago because I had heard it frequently mentioned and had the opportunity to do so. And as you say, a lot of funny elements but for a British TV show I found the humour unexpectedly crude.

Also, assuming you didn't change companies recently, I hope a good part of your salary consists of stock options. :)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 24th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Heeee, thanks. I don't even know what to do with them!
[User Picture]
From:trailer_spot
Date:June 24th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
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I obviously know very little about the actual situation. But exercising some options now and then to diversify seems like a good idea.
[User Picture]
From:eldritch_flame
Date:July 2nd, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
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You hadn't been watching Community from the beginning? That... sort of undermines my view of reality.

I have very fond memories of The IT Crowd, although as you mentioned it had quite a few cringe-worthy bits as well. Still, I will watch anything that has Richard Ayoade in it. He was delightful in The Mighty Boosh and by far the best thing about Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 2nd, 2012 05:06 am (UTC)
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Which also has Matt Berry! A couple friends recommended that to me, and it sounds ridiculous. I think I will watch it soon.
[User Picture]
From:eldritch_flame
Date:July 2nd, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, it seems fairly common in British tv to have sort of clumps of people who all show up in each others' shows. (I suppose the American equivalent would be Judd Apatow?)

I would definitely recommend both of those shows if you haven't seen them! And add to the crowd of recs for Black Books; that show is comedy gold. And there's a bit of cross-over from those shows with the Spaced precursor Asylum, which I would also heartily suggest that everyone watch.

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