The geeks are back! The IT Crowd, the award-winning sitcom written by Graham Linehan; co-writer of classics Father Ted, Black Books and Big Train; returns this Friday night on Channel Four and it’s as good as ever.
The series is about the basement-dwelling IT department of Reynholm Industries, a large company that does something that’s never explained in the show. Childlike Moss (Richard Ayoade) and his very slightly less socially inept colleague Roy (Chris O’Dowd) are managed by technophobe Jen (Katherine Parkinson), while the excellent Matt Berry is their boss, Douglas Reynholm. Unusually for a modern British sitcom, many of which have disposed of laughter tracks over the last decade, it is filmed in front of a live studio audience at Pinewood Studios. Since the first enjoyable but awkward first series, which featured Chris Morris in a regular role as the brilliantly-named Denholm Reynholm, the show has really found it’s feet and become one of the best comedy series of recent years. While it has enough references to computer jargon and internet memes keep hardcore geeks happy; particularly in the amazing set design, which you can see here; most of the clever, surreal humour can be enjoyed by anyone.
The first episode of the new series doesn’t disappoint. Titled ‘Jen the Fredo’, a reference Godfather II fans will recognise, it sees Jen take up the position of Entertainments Officer with the misconception that her role would involve planning trips to West End shows for boss Douglas Renholm’s sleazy business pals, rather than arranging the sort of “entertainment” they are used to. Of course, she ropes in Roy, upset after the breakdown of a long-term relationship, and Moss, currently obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons-style role playing games, to help out with the evening’s entertainment. Meanwhile, Douglas gets into trouble with some feminists (so, nothing new there).
Linehan’s writing and Ayoade’s performances have created one of the great sitcom characters in Maurice Moss, the lovably naive, pedantic nerd. The cast have really gelled and settled into their roles over the last three series, and here they are better than ever. There are some really funny moments throughout the episode, including Moss’ fantastic role-playing game and a scene that riffed further on the Godfather and showing some “Johns” a good time that deserved a bigger laugh. With future episodes this series featuring Moss making an appearance on the teatime words and numbers game Countdown, it looks like the quality of The IT Crowd is as good as ever and Channel Four’s decision to already commission a fifth series for next year was a wise one.
You can watch the first episode of series four of The IT Crowd this Friday night at 10pm on Channel Four, or watch it right now on channel4.com in a special early premiere.