While the concept for "The IT Crowd" is extremely clever and benefits from its simplicity, the series' broad, loopy execution only sporadically fulfills that promise.
While the concept for “The IT Crowd” is extremely clever and benefits from its simplicity, the series’ broad, loopy execution only sporadically fulfills that promise. NBC developed its own U.S. 2.0 version before pulling the plug, so this IFC showcase for the 2006 series will have to suffice Stateside. Despite acclaim overseas, the program could use a little debugging.
Jen (Katherine Parkinson) has just scored a job with a big corporation, Reynholm Industries, in part by lying about her facility with computers. So the boss dispatches her to the bowels of the building, where she meets the two IT geeks sequestered there: Roy (Chris O’Dowd), an Irishman with an eye for (but no skill at wooing) the ladies; and Moss (Richard Ayoade), a genius under thick glasses and a huge mop of hair who also is completely lacking in social graces.
Mostly, Roy and Moss avoid work, answering every query with, “Have you tried turning it on and off?” or insults like, “Are you from the past?” When Jen invades their cloistered little world, it’s a shock both to her (and any ambitions she might harbor) and them, with Roy in particular hostile to being managed and slightly aroused by having a woman in the vicinity.
So far, so good, but while writer-director Graham Linehan (working with “The Office” producer Ash Atalla) has created a vivid trio of oddball characters, his ingenuity doesn’t extend to finding consistently amusing situations in which to put them. Instead, he delivers an assortment of extremely broad and low-brow gags, from Jen wearing undersized shoes that mangle her feet to Roy placing a bad-boy personal ad or smearing chocolate (though nobody thinks it’s that) on his forehead.
The best bits, meanwhile, tend to keep recurring, like Jen pretending she’s frantically typing away when her computer isn’t even plugged in. There’s just not enough of that to keep the show consistently amusing, in part due to how narrowly the action focuses on the central trio. Their eccentricities also ensure the tone remains unrelentingly wacky, which is a tough energy level to maintain.
Despite peripherally shared lineage, in fact, the show is actually the opposite of “The Office,” which is all about understatement as opposed to bonking viewers over the head. On the plus side, there’s certainly a seed of an idea here — just one in need of tech support.