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Turing it off
September 27, 2013 12:38 PM   Subscribe

So Breaking Bad isn't the only series having it's final episode this weekend. The IT Crowd hits end of program with a one off special.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (121 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I could watch a few more seasons. They are just tossing the audience away like yesterday's jam.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:44 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


These guys have so much going on, it would probably be frightfully expensive to keep it running.

However, if you get a chance to see frequently asked questions about time travel, do so. It's marvellous. I've heard the actors playing Moss and Jen are also doing stuff but I've not seen any of it yet. :(
posted by tilde at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013


One of the best shows ever. We can still make each other squeal with (bad) impressions of Roy going "I'm disabled! ... Leg disabled. ... Acid."
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Have you tried turning it off and on again?
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's still on? I totally thought that courtroom episode featuring the Star Trek reenactment was the final episode, but that was years ago. Huzzah. More to watch!
posted by koeselitz at 12:53 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad there will be one more episode. Thanks for alerting us!
posted by rednikki at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2013


You know the final Spaced they slipped in to some special where it's years later and everyone has moved on? Those guys need one like that where they haven't, because that's careers in IT for you.
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on September 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


A message to American viewers from Graham Lineham
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


*excited, like a moth in a bath*
posted by mintcake! at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is great. We're going to watch it at Messigo's. Good English food, nice atmosphere.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now I just want Matt Berry to deliver the eulogy.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2013


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory

You take that back right now!
posted by briank at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2013 [50 favorites]


Apocryphon: “Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?”

Not really, no. It's hard to find a British version of Big Bang Theory, but Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps kind of works, in that both are about young people and both are generally unfunny shit. Two Pints generally lacks the veneer of crude condescension of Big Bang Theory, though.
posted by koeselitz at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?

sure.. except
1. It's funnier
2. Written better
3. Didn't overstay it's welcome
4. Didn't really go to the inevitable boy on show must hook up with the girl on show

(mind you the first 3 are subjective, but BBT was funny to me for a bit then got increasingly annoying)
posted by edgeways at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?

There a number of very important differences, not least among them the fact that the IT Crowd is more "laugh with these ridiculous nerds!" rather than "laugh AT these horribly abnormal people because how dare they be that way".

Also, the IT Crowd is funny.
posted by IAmUnaware at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


This had better be an improvement over the last episode of When the Whistle Blows.
posted by dr_dank at 1:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The actress who played Jen was also great in Whites.
posted by drezdn at 1:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll just point out, in case you've not realised already, that the title is a clever meta nod to Alan Turing and not a dyslexic typo
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The show had it's high points and low points (mostly high), and while I found Douglas Reynholm amusing I really found Denholm Reynholm hilarious and was sorry he got killed off.
posted by edgeways at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?

Well I've watched every episode of the IT Crowd... I've tried to watch Big Bang Theory twice and not managed to last more than 5 mins in each case
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Women's slacks.
posted by Grangousier at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013


Apocryphon: "Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?"

I will end you.
posted by boo_radley at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


There a number of very important differences, not least among them the fact that the IT Crowd is more "laugh with these ridiculous nerds!" rather than "laugh AT these horribly abnormal people because how dare they be that way".

I'm pretty sure that most of the time we're supposed to be laughing at Moss for being a weirdo, not laughing with him.

I dunno. I expected to really like this show, but there were an awful lot of plotlines about how women like wearing shoes that are too small for them, or something of the sort. It didn't feel much different from The Big Bang Theory to me, or any other sitcom.
posted by painquale at 1:15 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: "I will end you."

I'm sorry, I think this is what I really meant.
posted by boo_radley at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry, that was just a random phrase from the episode that I posted. It's very funny, I think.
posted by Grangousier at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2013


When does it get funny, then? Because I tried a couple of episodes, and got a) old person falls down stairs, isn't that uproariously funny? b) ha ha ha girls can't be geeks, isn't it funny to watch them try to pretend to be? c) but girls are overcome with irrational lust at the sight of a window of shoes, isn't that funny ha ha ha?

I like _Spaced_ and _Black Books_, so it's not like that genre of humor is alien to me, but not only did I find it unfunny, I found it actively and kind of nastily hostile to people like me.
posted by tavella at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You can't have tiny baristas, Jen. For God's sake, the man works with steam!"
posted by Grangousier at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is just another example of MeFites fetishizing British tv, insisting it's better than tv from all other nations. MeFites like me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll just put this over here with the rest of the fire.
posted by dr_dank at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


When does it get funny, then? Because I tried a couple of episodes, and got a) old person falls down stairs, isn't that uproariously funny? b) ha ha ha girls can't be geeks, isn't it funny to watch them try to pretend to be? c) but girls are overcome with irrational lust at the sight of a window of shoes, isn't that funny ha ha ha?

I like _Spaced_ and _Black Books_, so it's not like that genre of humor is alien to me, but not only did I find it unfunny, I found it actively and kind of nastily hostile to people like me.


This is pretty much me. I watched the first couple of eps and it really put me off, though I similarly loved Spaced and Black Books (and lots of other British comedy besides). I guess it gets better?
posted by kmz at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first few eps are a bit inconsistent then it settles down. The one where they all go to the theatre is one of the funniest things I've ever seen
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'll go on record saying that I thought the pilot for the American version wasn't terrible, and it could have grown into a great show in its own right if NBC had given it a chance. Unlike, say, Spaced or Father Ted, The IT Crowd would have benefitted from a longer season.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2013


I'm not about to badmouth a show that's about to end, but I just brought up BBT because on some superficial levels, that IT Crowd quite reminds me of it, what with it being a direct spotlight on nerd culture from a very mainstream angle. Certainly it's a better show, with more realized characters, and deserves greater nerd cred (for whatever worth that currency possesses). But I've never been big into explorations of nerdom, even something wholly created from the inside, like XKCD. (Though I suspect my distaste with that is more specific to Randall Munroe's off-putting nature). I suspect that comedy intended for nerds end up being more enjoyable, to me at least, than comedy about nerd culture. I quite enjoy Red Dwarf and Community, for instance- I feel like shows such as those don't expect their audiences to catch up to speed with its references. IT Crowd is a lot more gentler for mainstream audiences, and so is similar to BBT in that regard.

But: there's nothing intrinsically wrong with being the latter. There certainly has been a rise in chauvinism in nerdom as nerdery has become not only mainstream but universal. Perhaps there is an unspoken notion of "nerd high culture" where some works/communities/individuals are thought to be worthier by the number of in-jokes present, and the amount of gags for a general audience absent.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Richard Ayoade is shaping up to be an interesting director. Submarine is well worth a watch and I'm really looking forward to The Double. Darkplace was of course genius.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


You'd need to be the sort of person who finds a tiny enraged barista, wound up by a short person racist, being knocked down by a van with breasts mounted on the front amusing, that's all.
posted by Grangousier at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please please don't be like that last Red Dwarf.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2013


Spoiler: they all die in a fire at a sea park.
posted by dr_dank at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's no Garth Merenghi's Darkplace.
posted by benzenedream at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


When does it get funny, then? Because I tried a couple of episodes, and got a) old person falls down stairs, isn't that uproariously funny? b) ha ha ha girls can't be geeks, isn't it funny to watch them try to pretend to be? c) but girls are overcome with irrational lust at the sight of a window of shoes, isn't that funny ha ha ha?

I can't speak to the old person falling down the stairs, but as for the rest of it: One of the things I like about The IT Crowd is the way that its principals are the ones who are crazy, more often than not, and they are surrounded by straight-men.

The joke is not that girls can't be geeks. In fact, the show carefully sets up a scenario in which she gets the job because, while her tech knowledge is threadbare at best, she still knows more about computers than the person interviewing her. This is echoed later on when Roy and Moss try to prank her by offering to let her use, during a presentation, the box that has the internet in it. They figure she's going to make an idiot of herself, but again, she knows slightly more than nothing at all but she's dealing with people who know nothing at all, so when she unveils THE INTERNET and it's just a box with a light on it, everyone in the room is suitably impressed.

Same deal with the shoes. The woman selling her the shoes tries to talk her out of it, recognizing that she appears to be kind of insane. The joke isn't that women are irrational about shoes. The joke is that Jen is irrational, about pretty much everything. She tries to be the voice of reason in her office (hence why she's the relationship manager) and it's why she can pretend to be normal enough that she can host a dinner party, but she's not normal enough that she doesn't eventually wig out about her date being named Peter File. She pretends that Roy and Moss are crazy to have noticed this and harp on it, but ultimately she's exactly the same as they are.

I mean, the show isn't perfect at all, but those are my thoughts. Really, though, if you're not enjoying watching something, you should not watch it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


You should go listen to I, Regress by my specific dream rabbit Matt Berry if you like his character in The IT Crowd. I found it yesterday on iTunes and promptly bought the whole thing. As a bonus, the Grauniad published a whiny article from a past life hypnotherapist complaining that it made the profession look bad!

SANDWICH MAN.
posted by winna at 1:43 PM on September 27, 2013


I can get "women are dumb about technology (...science... sports...whatever) but are happy to manipulate men so they can take the credit, plus they are insane about shoes!" type characters in just about any mainstream American comedy show. I'm not really seeing why putting the joke in a british accent makes it funny. I'm with Apocryphon; it felt very BBT to me, except Penny had a more rounded and subtle characterization.

It doesn't sound like it changes tack much, though, so I can stop worrying I missed something.
posted by tavella at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the show my fiance and I have bonded over more than any other. "Legs disabled..." is whimpered by whomever is too lazy to walk the dog that day.
posted by lattiboy at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Same deal with the shoes. The woman selling her the shoes tries to talk her out of it, recognizing that she appears to be kind of insane. The joke isn't that women are irrational about shoes. The joke is that Jen is irrational, about pretty much everything.

You can also try to say that characters like Sheldon in BBT aren't supposed to exemplify all nerds; we're just supposed to laugh at Sheldon. But that misses the point that we are laughing at him qua nerd. The joke about Jen and her shoes wouldn't have worked if Jen had been a man, which shows that it's not a joke about Jen, it's a joke about Jen qua woman.
posted by painquale at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


When does it get funny, then? Because I tried a couple of episodes, and got a) old person falls down stairs, isn't that uproariously funny? b) ha ha ha girls can't be geeks, isn't it funny to watch them try to pretend to be? c) but girls are overcome with irrational lust at the sight of a window of shoes, isn't that funny ha ha ha?

I don't disagree with this sentiment re: Jen. If she's the only woman, she can come across as a stand-in for all women, intentional or not. If she's depicted to be inherently inferior to her male counterparts, that's a problem.

I think the show would be much funnier if Chris O'Dowd and Katherine Parkinson had just swapped characters from the start.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can get "women are dumb about technology (...science... sports...whatever) but are happy to manipulate men so they can take the credit, plus they are insane about shoes!" type characters in just about any mainstream American comedy show. I'm not really seeing why putting the joke in a british accent makes it funny.

If you insist that tropes don't exist and live to be offended by things, this is a terrible show.

Otherwise, it's one of the most consistently funny comedies I've ever seen.
posted by lattiboy at 1:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not really seeing why putting the joke in a british accent makes it funny.

It's not an affectation, you know. Countries outside the United States have had access to television for several years now.
posted by Grangousier at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


I never ever got that Jenn was inferior to the other two, and I am usually very sensitive about that kind of thing. Jenn has different skills, but even when they're not on display she is never stupid. She's usually focused like a laser on something crazy, but she's not inferior.
posted by winna at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not much point in bagging on them for making Jen technically incompetent when everyone else other than Roy and Moss is as well. Douglas Reynolm doesn't even know how to open his laptop. (And BTW, he's also an over-the-top raging penis male stereotype, if you like balance.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can we have a (another) thread explaining (non) humor please?
posted by edgeways at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2013


You can also try to say that characters like Sheldon in BBT aren't supposed to exemplify all nerds; we're just supposed to laugh at Sheldon.

I wouldn't say that because that was not the sense I got from the one episode of BBT I've seen. This may not be true all the time on the show, but the one episode I saw was such a piece of shit that I don't expect to watch another.

But that misses the point that we are laughing at him qua nerd. The joke about Jen and her shoes wouldn't have worked if Jen had been a man, which shows that it's not a joke about Jen, it's a joke about Jen qua woman.

Again, see above: The IT Crowd takes pains to surround Jen with women who are rational in a way she's not: the woman at the shoe shop who tries to talk her out of the terrible mistake she's making, for example. Kathrine Parkinson is the only woman in the credits but she's not the only woman on the show.

I mean, this is the impression that I've gotten of the show and the way it constructs its world and the jokes it tells in that world. Thing is, there's no objective measurement you can point to and prove that she is or isn't supposed to represent Things About Women We Are Laughing At. I didn't get that sense from the show. If you did, that's cool too.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:03 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's been a while since I watched it but I remember being really irritated by the gender politics of the IT Crowd for the first few episodes. I'm not sure if it actually got better on that front or if the dopamine from laughing just put me in a more forgiving mood. But I did think it got much, much funnier.
posted by yarrow at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2013


Sheldon seems to be a classic Aspie.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2013


Ooo, exciting news! I've only seen the last season once so I just have vague memories as to how it ended, although I remember thinking, "Wait, that's it? They're not going for another season?" and then feeling sad. I have, however, watched over and over the first three seasons, so much so that a lot of the phrases are now a part of my general lexicon.

I am also happy to see that we're all (mostly) in general accord that "The Work Outing" is one of the best pieces of sitcom genius ever.

Also, I didn't see any mention of Richmond in the articles. I suppose he's too busy managing "From Goth 2 Boss" to return for a special. Which is a pity, because Richmond was the best.
posted by paisley sheep at 2:13 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


There is a Richmond appearance. But not Denholm, sadly.
posted by Grangousier at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2013


As a web development manager at a large, non-technical firm and life-long nerd, the IT Crowd feels like my daily life. Big Bang Theory feels like what a room full of chain-smoking scriptwriters, armed with wikipedia, think my life is like.

Best way I can some it up, really.

Not saying one is more accurate than the other, just that as someone who is effectively the "target" of both series it is only the IT Crowd which has ever felt like its doing it affectionately. I find watching BBT positively painful to be honest, whereas IT Crowd jokes are part of our communal banter repertoire at work.

Everyone should enjoy what they want to enjoy though. No need to take this all so seriously. This isn't street countdown.
posted by garius at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


The spider is now upon my person.
posted by sonascope at 2:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is a Richmond appearance.

OMG YES THANK YOU.
posted by paisley sheep at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2013


The IT Crowd spoils you for Katherine Parkinson, because you watch her in other roles and they're just not big enough for her to show what she can do.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:27 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


A staple of Graham Linehan's writing is the groaner joke written to make the audience say "I cannot believe they're making a joke about this." Jen's obsession with shoes is a prime example of this. Whether one thinks it's funny or not is one thing, but IT Crowd (like most of Linehan's shows) is 100% self-aware, and takes great pleasure in exploring hoary, cliched sitcom tropes.
posted by incomple at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


(None of which necessarily makes it funny or enjoyable or commendable, but I just felt it should be stated.)
posted by incomple at 2:29 PM on September 27, 2013


You know the final Spaced they slipped in to some special where it's years later and everyone has moved on? Those guys need one like that where they haven't, because that's careers in IT for you.
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on September 27
[5 favorites −] [!]


When did that happen with Spaced??
posted by Bwithh at 2:33 PM on September 27, 2013


What! This is it? THIS IS IT??!!!111!!??? It can't be; I must call Emergency Services!

Dammit, what's that new number?
posted by droplet at 2:35 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's a tragedy to be the only person you know in your daily human interactions who loves, or is even aware of, The It Crowd (see also: The Mighty Boosh), because there's so much to quote and people just roll their eyes and remind you what it was like to think you were the only little gay kid in the world so long, long ago.
posted by sonascope at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


takes great pleasure in exploring hoary, cliched sitcom tropes
Everybody's raving about "The Work Outing" (rightfully), but that's a prime example. "Main character(s) digging themselves in deeper and deeper in an embarrassing situation rather than just coming clean and maturely resolving the conflict" is one of my most hated tropes, but somehow they not only make it work, they make it brilliant.

You know, I don't think I even understand how they make it work. What is it about Lucy or Jack Tripper that makes me squirm with empathy and cringe with horror and eventually turn off the show? I thought it was the sympathy I was feeling for their characters, but I find Roy and Maurice even more sympathetic and yet I blow up with laughter when seeing them in situations which are equally awkward.
posted by roystgnr at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2013


It's a tragedy to be the only person you know in your daily human interactions who loves, or is even aware of, The It Crowd

The place I've been working, I'm the only person who's seen Breaking Bad. Most of them haven't even heard of it. Imagine that.
posted by Grangousier at 2:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to add that my ex-boss (and the ex-owner of said large firm before he sold it for an obscene amount of money) was about as close to Douglas Renholm as it's possible to get in real life, which i'll admit probably adds to my affection for it.

He once accidentally emailed a photo of his balls to the entire company, for example.

He also once charged into the middle of a job interview I was giving a candidate in his office (he'd told me to use it as he was planning on playing golf all day). Shouted:

"DONT WORRY CHAPS! I'M JUST HERE FOR MY BANJO!"

Then, having found it, turned earnestly to the candidate and said:

"Tell me young man? Do you play?"

Then strode out again without waiting for an answer.

Pure Douglas.
posted by garius at 2:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [47 favorites]


Dammit, what's that new number?

Here's a handy jingle to help you remember!

0118 ♪ 999 ♫ 881 ♪♫ 999 ♪ 119 ♪ 725 ♭ 3
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I always thought Jen came across as desperately trying to become her own stereotypical image of "successful businesswoman" with a heaping helping of impostor syndrome anxiety and her "Ich bin ein Nerd!" speech spelled out the True Jen.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm actually not a big fan of the show, but I am a big fan of the incredible Richard Ayoade, who is no longer allowed to talk about baths or showers, and have been a little too amused to read every comment in this thread in his voice in my head.
posted by byanyothername at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Doktor Zed beat me to it. I still find myself singing that song every now and then, and I haven't seen an episode in months.

I'm sure the writers would find it hilarious that anyone would actually remember that absurd number. Speaks to the power of THE JINGLE.
posted by kilozerocharliealphawhiskey at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My cats are named Zenith and Quasar, and it's truly a spectacular thing when people catch the reference.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 3:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know the final Spaced they slipped in to some special where it's years later and everyone has moved on? Those guys need one like that where they haven't, because that's careers in IT for you.

When did that happen with Spaced??


Artw might have been thinking of the final montage at the end of series two, though there was also an epilogue of sorts in Skip to the End, the documentary included in the special edition DVD release.
posted by peteyjlawson at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Main character(s) digging themselves in deeper and deeper in an embarrassing situation rather than just coming clean and maturely resolving the conflict" is one of my most hated tropes, but somehow they not only make it work, they make it brilliant.

It's a superbly conceived and acted ensemble in which everyone thinks they're actually superior to one another. Roy thinks he's a smooth operator in every sense of the word, although he's prone to putting himself into spectacularly embarrassing positions. Moss considers himself the rationale one, even though he frequently succumbs to "hot ear" syndrome. Jen believes she's a normal career-conscious manager, but she's normal only in comparison to her two co-workers and has trouble handling stress.

In less capable hands, though, this quickly turns into something dire.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


incomple: “A staple of Graham Linehan's writing is the groaner joke written to make the audience say 'I cannot believe they're making a joke about this.' Jen's obsession with shoes is a prime example of this. Whether one thinks it's funny or not is one thing, but IT Crowd (like most of Linehan's shows) is 100% self-aware, and takes great pleasure in exploring hoary, cliched sitcom tropes.”

Yeah, people should probably know that. If you've seen Garth Marengi's Darkplace or Brass Eye or most of the other things these folks have been involved in, the idea is familiar, but otherwise, probably not so much. If you get as far as episode 1 of season 4 – "Jen the Fredo," in which Jen "entertains" a group of sleazy businessmen by having Roy and Moss introduce them to D&D – I think the fact that he's playing at twisting these tropes around becomes pretty clear.

But I guess it's not for everyone. Still, Graham Linehan has an uncanny ability to craft a gag. I still laugh at this bit regularly, even when I just happen to think of it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed Richard Ayoade when he hosted never mind the buzzcocks. It is on YouTube.

I love the series, and so does my wife, who generally does not like British comedy. I have placed the IT Crowd on a pedal stool in my heart, I am worried that this episode will turn out to be a damp squid.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:21 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I just figured out my Halloween costume. A damp squid riding a pedal stool.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you see that ludicrous display where people came into a thread about The IT Crowd just to say how much they thought it stunk?
posted by The Gooch at 3:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am a big fan of the incredible Richard Ayoade, who is no longer allowed to talk about baths or showers

If only. You haven't seen the tragic waste of talent that is Gadget Man, I take it?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2013


The problem with Metafilter is they always try to walk it in.
posted by altopower at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade get passes from me for their work on The Mighty Boosh and Snuff Box (Berry). Some of the weirdest, funniest comedy imho.
posted by gorbichov at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can forgive the more hackneyed, stereotypical scenarios they force Jen through, in light of Katherine Parkinson's fantastic performance, the fact that she feels like an equal cast member to Moss and Roy, and some of her less stereotypical stories. The smoking episode still kills me.
posted by fatbird at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Strangely, The Gooch, I in fact asked a genuine question, because sometimes a series misfires badly in the first episodes or season and then reboots, and I wanted to know if _The IT Crowd_ was one of them. For example, I only made it through an episode or two of the first season of _Blackadder_, was advised that it gets much, much better at season 2, skipped and resumed there, and discovered that indeed it does get better, and indeed, awesome.

But it's clear that _The IT Crowd_ never gets away from the cartoon woman character nor ever brings in a wider variety of significant female characters (or, in fact, any at all), so I now know that I can ignore it. Though this thread has also demonstrated once again that the fans of a show can be its worst enemies, as I went from "don't get why this is supposed to be so great" to "despise it". We had the usuals:

-- 'you just live to be offended by things'
-- 'but among the many male characters is an asshole, so that makes it totally even for the only female character to be a walking misogynist cliche'
-- 'sure, it in every way replicates the worst sort of sitcom cliche, but it's all *meta*'

Some people did sincerely try to explain why they liked it, or nicely summed up the show in ways that made it clear that like the Stooges it was humor that was never going to appeal to me (like Grangousier), but wow, you guys really know how to anti-sell a show.
posted by tavella at 4:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Did you see that ludicrous display"

I'm bilingual in both IT Crowd and soccer and may just have to give this line a field test. Maybe American it up a bit.
posted by aerotive at 4:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The smoking episode is the perfect example of what I love about the IT Crowd. It takes a somewhat normal situation in a completely over the top and awesome direction.
posted by drezdn at 4:08 PM on September 27, 2013


I dig why some people might not like Jen's role, but man I love me some IT Crowd. As others have already said, The Work Outing is one of my favorite 30 minutes of sitcom television ever. When in the UK this past summer I actually took a photo of one of the disabled call pullstrings in a restroom because it reminded me of that episode. (It's tough to explain when showing the travel album to family.)

Thanks for the heads up -- I'm pretty sure I haven't seen the last season, either, so I know what I'm doing this weekend now.
posted by jess at 4:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't it the British version of Big Bang Theory, except that it happens to predate that show?

yeah, but it's a comedy
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 4:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


tavella, sorry, inside joke, not real criticism.
posted by The Gooch at 4:28 PM on September 27, 2013


Oh good. Now Richard Ayoade might have enough time to return my phone calls.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But it's clear that _The IT Crowd_ never gets away from the cartoon woman character nor ever brings in a wider variety of significant female characters (or, in fact, any at all), so I now know that I can ignore it

I'm not going to argue that this show is a huge leap forward for female characters in sitcoms, as it still follows a lot of familiar tropes, but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a step backwards either. No, they don't ever bring in a wider variety of significant female characters, but aside from the main 3 the only other lead they beef up is the CEO, so it's not like there were a lot of lineup changes happening.

People seem to have a lot of problems with the shoe episode, which I can understand. But on the other hand . . . the character likes shoes. The show isn't saying all women are crazy over shoes, as the female shop clerk clearly points out that Jen is being unrealistic, but this specific character has her own brand of stubbornness and self-delusion that keeps her coming back to those red heels. That a female character likes shoes is not in itself the sole (ha!) evidence for a show's approach to female characterization, you have to look at it within the character's context.

Please don't let the fandom turn you off of the show. It took me three times to actually dive in and enjoy it - I couldn't really see what made it special in the first episode. It's not the most groundbreaking of comedies, but it is a really sweet show. Most of its conflicts are external or self-made, no one actively dislikes each other, and for a sitcom it actually has a lot of arrested-development like callbacks that only payoff if you've seen the rest of the series.
posted by Think_Long at 4:51 PM on September 27, 2013


thread has also demonstrated once again that the fans of a show can be its worst enemies [...] We had the usuals: [...] [but] Some people did sincerely try to explain why they liked it

You got the responses the framing of your comment asked for. Not everyone agreed with you and they explained why. I don't see anyone here being insincere, they just don't agree with you.
posted by smidgen at 5:02 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


But all the leads are walking cartoon characters and assholes. Which is why I love them.

Not to say I don't appreciate that people could have issues with Jen's character, but actually one of things I love about her is that she's on the same playing field as all the other leads. Sure -- she's the woman and there are stereotypes. But her story-lines are just as valid (and ridiculous) as Roy's (who gets stereotypes as an Irishman and a loser) or Moss's (stereotype Aspie-esque nerd who lives with his mother).

I especially love the fact they took the standard tv plot of having sexual tension between two leads of the opposite sex and literally slammed the door in its face, because it seems so rare to find opposite sex leads that have a friendship and nothing more.

So I love that Jen's an equal with Moss and Roy and Douglas/Denholm. They're equally caricatures and walking jokes and assholes and fountains of absurdist humor.

If the world in which they lived weren't filled with straight men/women (straight as in the gag man v the straight man), then the delightful insanity of the IT dept would not be worth giggling through over and over again. Of course, the odd minor character can trickle in here and there -- ahem, hello, Richmond -- but it's really about how ridiculous the leads are and how bizarrely they react to their situations.

Again -- I know this kind of absurdist humor isn't for everyone. There's no character growth or development, and sometimes the plot seems like a build-up to a big joke (but a wonderfully layered build-up to a big joke that may not be the one you're expecting).

But if anyone's wondering whether it's still worth a shot, definitely start at the first episode of the second series, which is the oft-mentioned "The Work Outing." I've shared that episode with others who've never before heard of this show (because you don't really need to know who these characters are to understand the situation), and they cried from laughter. If you don't want to bother trying any other episodes after that, fair enough.

(Really, I just think everyone needs to see "The Work Outing," which I put on the same level as, say, the Vitameatavegamin episode from I Love Lucy.)
posted by paisley sheep at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


All the shoes talk made me think of this exchange from that episode because now I can only read the word "shoes" and hear Richard Ayoade's voice.

THE SHOES-AH.

And really, Roy is incredibly sexist, which is why he is crap at relationships.

Except when he is actually crap. Which Jen is more than happy to point out.

(Oh my god forget any plans I had this weekend because I have some serious tv watching to do.)
posted by paisley sheep at 5:39 PM on September 27, 2013


Speaking of being crap at relationships.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2013


Waitaminnit, I think I got lost somewhere: how many seasons did they produce? Because I think I have seen only two or maybe three, and if there's more to be had then I want it!!

Also, three times this week alone I sent people an image of Roy disgustedly saying, "People. What a bunch of bastards."
posted by wenestvedt at 6:51 PM on September 27, 2013


(Really, I just think everyone needs to see "The Work Outing," which I put on the same level as, say, the Vitameatavegamin episode from I Love Lucy.)

I believe you meant to say on the same level as the "Dinner Party" episode of "The Office" (US), but I forgive you. They're all up there.

I compare the two because they were both brilliant at taking established characters and narrative tropes and throwing them into a blender at puree.
posted by dhartung at 6:53 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My personal favorite line is from Moss, because it perfectly illustrates a reaction/realization I've had far too many times:

"Come on, no one would use that sort of information against us.
Oh, wait a second...they would, wouldn't theyOHNOOOOOOO!"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:54 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I didn't know until this post that there was a 4th series. I am beyond excited right now.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:22 PM on September 27, 2013


Oh my god if you haven't seen the 4th season you don't know the joy of "Italian for Beginners" go watch it NOW get thee to Netflix!
posted by jason_steakums at 7:33 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which, of course, I just started rewatching that episode and I never realized that it's basically a Seinfeld episode. Seriously, watch it mentally subbing Roy for Jerry, Jen for George and Moss for Kramer.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:49 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Spiders"
posted by lattiboy at 9:46 PM on September 27, 2013


I can't speak to the old person falling down the stairs

You could yell, but I imagine at best they would be distracted.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:58 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


A fire at a Sea Parks?
posted by toerinishuman at 6:18 AM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Elders of the Internet know who I am!?!
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 6:45 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


v=x9srs5Pua-A
posted by roll truck roll at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the show, but the laughter is canned, yes? No one really finds what the upstairs boss character says so uproariously hilarious, right?
posted by blueberry at 7:19 PM on September 28, 2013


but the laughter is canned,

Studio audience... the writer, Graham Lienham gets annoyed at the 'canned laughter' accusation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:56 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boss II is better than Boss I. Sorry, Chris Morris.
posted by Artw at 5:33 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreed. His best days were on "Brass Eye."
posted by koeselitz at 8:10 AM on September 29, 2013


I always thought it was a weird role for Chris Morris to be in, he's got the character down because he's played something close a million times before (the dadaesque oblivious steamroller of an authority figure) but without the subversive element of his other performances and without being in service of a capital-s Statement about the target of its satire it doesn't feel right.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:30 AM on September 29, 2013


Heh. I had a brief "conversation" with Lineham on Twitter about the laugh track on The IT Crowd. I said I found it annoying and asked it they could make it an optional audio track on the DVD (as apparently happens on the MASH DVDs). He said no, told me to go away, and blocked me. So there's that.
posted by TheDonF at 10:34 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


But on MASH the show was filmed and the "laughter" was dubbed on later using recordings of old comedy shows. In the UK it played entirely without the laugh track and no one noticed (in fact we were slightly disturbed to see the show the U.S. way). The IT Crowd (and all other British comedy, I think) is played out in front of an audience (and the pre-filmed inserts are shown to that audience, I think in story order, but I could be wrong about that), so you'd have to work pretty hard to get rid of the sound of the audience. That's on the soundtrack, to say nothing of the way the rhythm of the performance is dictated by the audience reaction. You could do it, but it would be like those people who re-edit The Phantom Menace to get rid of Jar-Jar Binks, and I'd say about half-way through doing the first episode you'd wonder what the hell you were doing and give up.

But the audience is built in to the way that the series is made. Linehan is on record as saying that that part of the process of making comedy is something that he especially enjoys and admires. It's not a bug for him, it's a feature.

I don't know what you do for a living, but if random strangers kept messaging you to tell you that you were doing a fundamental bit of it wrong, you'd probably give them short shrift too.
posted by Grangousier at 2:18 AM on September 30, 2013


My comment to Lineham was in reply to a tweet from him asking people to "school" someone who had apparently randomly-messaged him about the laughter being annoying. I replied back and said that I found it annoying too.
posted by TheDonF at 11:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


At least in the US, the live audience is pretty seriously goosed, mixed, and not infrequently sweetened with pre-recorded laughter. Perhaps the UK practice is more austere, but they still have a lot of options as to how it is miked and mixed, so if it's annoying and noticeable, then they are indeed doing it wrong, live or not.
posted by tavella at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen all of the episodes over the years (and love Moss and Roy's banter), it was just in watching this final episode that I was reminded of the--what apparently is not, but certainly sounds like to my ears--canned or "multiplied" laughter.

You know how in iTunes you can edit a song so it plays at 200% volume? It's like that; it seems like they are taking whatever studio audience tracks they are getting and punching them up like 400%. Like they are afraid of any line being said without it being followed by an audible knee-slapping guffaw.

I really only notice it whenever there is a scene involving the later-seasons dark haired boss. It's just that every little thing he does or says is met with uproarious laughter--that kind of over-eager laughter that reads as patently fake.

Maybe the actor that plays the boss is Britain's version of Jerry Lewis, or the 90's version of Kramer, and I just don't get it... but it makes it seem like the creators lack confidence in the writing for the boss character, and so they pump up the laughters audio track. But it doesn't make the scene funnier, it makes it sound like it's trying to be When the Whistle Blows.
posted by blueberry at 5:13 PM on September 30, 2013


tavella: “When does it get funny, then? Because I tried a couple of episodes, and got a) old person falls down stairs, isn't that uproariously funny? b) ha ha ha girls can't be geeks, isn't it funny to watch them try to pretend to be? c) but girls are overcome with irrational lust at the sight of a window of shoes, isn't that funny ha ha ha? I like _Spaced_ and _Black Books_, so it's not like that genre of humor is alien to me, but not only did I find it unfunny, I found it actively and kind of nastily hostile to people like me.”

So here's the deal:

I sort-of tried to defend the show earlier in this thread, based mostly on the fact that I watched it years ago and thought it was uproariously funny. But over the past few weeks since then I've gone back and watched some episodes, and I have to say I've been shocked at how awful it can be on these points. The initial thing is the "woman-loves-shoes" thing – honestly, it might just be a character thing for one person I guess, but I was just re-watching Black Books (which is much better and more subtle, and also has Bill Bailey) and there Graham Linehan did the "woman-really-loves-shoes" gag too. Geez.

But that isn't really the worst thing. Honestly, I can't believe I spaced this out and forgot about it, but there was a moment when, even watching it the first time, I remember having to shut it off and skip to the next episode because it pissed me off so much. It was episode 5 of season 1, "The Haunting of Bill Crouse," wherein Roy is seeking to hook up with a beautiful woman on another floor and accidentally gets himself noticed by a very ugly woman instead. Literally, that is the entire joke – ha ha, look how hideous she is! Roy sure has gotten himself into a terrible pickle, getting noticed by such a creature and having to talk to her on the phone! – a joke that is played throughout the episode and (if I'm not mistaken) brought back for another episode too. This is so mean-spirited and gross and wrong that it just makes my skin crawl, and when I got to it this time my eyes widened and I got angry and shut the thing off for good. And I resolved to come here and tell people: yeah, this show has some serious problems.

So I hope people will count this as an apology. Sometimes we defend things, hand-waving away sexism and bigotry as though they were just not a big deal, because we like the things. I won't deny that I find some stuff in The IT Crowd really funny, but I will not be hand-waving away its serious problems again. And I want to sincerely say: I am sorry I ever minimized this crap or made it sound like it was acceptable by introducing some layer of irony or pretending that they didn't really intend for it to be that gross or mean.
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, koeselitz, that's very thoughtful of you. I'm halfway through _Black Books_, and it really is a useful comparison. Sure, sometimes they do somewhat cliche'd female jokes with Fran -- she's always dating guys who discover they are gay, etc -- but it's not how she was introduced and it's not the keystone of her character. We first meet her in terms of her and Bernard sharing their quasi-alcoholic snarkiness, and she has a sufficient variety of mad enthusiasms that the coded-female ones just seem part of a three-dimensional character.
posted by tavella at 3:20 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(though I have to say, the whole "eastern europeans are all creepy moochers" bit in the last episode I watched definitely had the same unpleasant one-dimensionality)
posted by tavella at 3:22 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that annoyed me, too. Frankly, the thing about Black Books that I like most is that it featured these consummate comedians as characters, and it feels like on their strength alone it often went places. When the writers attempted to lead them places instead, it often went awry. Like that weird Eastern-Europeans-are-moochers scene, or that "ha ah, women sure love shoes!" bit I was mentioning.

Fran is an interesting case. There's an episode where she tries to get into yoga, mostly because she is friends with a "hippy-dippy" woman who's all about health and tells her that her cigarettes and booze stink and that her friends are smelly; that ends, predictably, with her joyously returning to drink and cigarettes later on when she realizes that the health craze thing is stupid and judgmental and she just likes drinking and smoking much better. Not sure if that's reinforcing a trope or breaking it, honestly; maybe it's just underlining her as "one of the guys" and making most women out to be petty and vindictive, or maybe it's pointing out that women don't all fit into the roles that are invented for them and imposed on them. There's also an episode where she goes off with some women friends for a "hen party" before one of them gets married - Manny and Roy predict that she will be miserable - and after she pushes much more booze on them than they're prepared for, they reveal that they always knew she would end up a spinster, and she bitterly reveals that two of them had a threesome with the man who's about to marry the third years before - and of course the whole thing ends up a mess. She's interesting and frankly a bit schizophrenic sometimes because of this; she's all non-standard woman who isn't tied down by society's rules, and then, oh god, she's totally obsessed with shoes, because of course, she's a woman after all right?

Ultimately I can watch IT Crowd and Black Books critically and still generally enjoy them. There is more interesting and subtle characterization at the heart of Black Books. I still wish there weren't the weird moments of "oh god why are they doing this horrible trope," but at the end of the day I guess I just can't expect too much from a sitcom. (And, I guess to be perfectly fair, American sitcoms are almost entirely and thoroughly unwatchable on these points.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


...with a "hippy-dippy" woman... Who is Daisy in Spaced, which is totally worth a watch if people haven't yet.


Tamsin Greig is pretty funny. I haven't seen her in a lot of things, but she does turn up in a Dr Who episode, and while her (minor) character isn't a humorous character I find her portrayal of it as understated funny.


That being said, I think there is a trap we tend (me too) to fall in, where we ascribe over meaning to certain characters. There are some mooching Eastern Europeans so they must represent all Eastern Europeans. Fran likes shoes so it must be they mean all women love shoes. And so on.

I like Black Books (and IT crowd) because there are full of broken people (kind of like SCTV was) in funny situations. It's good to be media critical of these things, ALWAYS QUESTION, but I find, when it's written pretty well, I have to unclench sometimes and enjoy it for what it is.
posted by edgeways at 9:38 AM on October 21, 2013


Just caught up with Count Arthur Strong... takes a couple of eps to get going but after that, well, I had to pause at least once an episode to recover because I was laughing so hard.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2013


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