Channel: Channel 4
Recurring Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Katherine Parkinson, Richard Ayoade
I could spend the first paragraph of the review summarising where we left off in Season One, although that would be a total waste of breath. As Season Two opens, the shock reveal of Jen sleeping with Moss is brushed under the rug, the show opting for a confident ‘business as usual’ approach. While this means that there is little heavy narrative to wade through before getting to the gags, it does make It Crowd definitely a class joker of a series, rather than comedy with much substance.
If we are trying to find some form of ongoing narrative, the main thing to comment on would be the addition of Matt Berry to the cast. Matt Berry is a strong comedy name to have under any project, his booming voice and unique appearance (he is a cross between a middle-aged man and an excitable puppy), easily garnering an array of jokes. The problem I have with Matt Berry coming into the show is how much his character seems to take over. It is almost as if the show feels obliged to pull out a Matt Berry gag every episode just because they have access to the actor. His role is replacing Chris Morris’ wacky business emperor, Reynholm (whose departure from the show is brilliantly simple). The IT Crowd squanders a chance to have a new and interesting boss figure, instead choosing to keep the madcap stereotype of Morris, but just upping it. Now we have the same character, but one that is used less sparingly and arguably excessively OTT. It is an odd complaint because the IT Crowd is a show that prides itself on its off-the-wall wackiness. But perhaps the rule of ‘less is more’ is even more important, because while the first season was a clever balancing act, the rules feel more thrown out of the window. The odd jokes lands: as I said Matt Berry is a naturally funny man and the issue here feels more of a writing fault than a problem with Berry’s performance itself. Kept to the same level of Richmond’s cameos, Matt Berry could have been an essential asset to the diversity of the IT Crowd. The end result however is a running gag where Jen’s boss is now a persistent sexual predator. Blindly singling out Jen (odd in itself as Season One set her up to the oddball female of the building), Matt Berry’s Reynholm will stop at nothing to bed her. I am not even going to dive into the politics of the fact the IT Crowd promotes Reynholm’s rapey dating techniques, suggesting the character is adorably behind-the-times, rather than a dangerous criminal. He can whip out date rape drugs and be met with a tired eye-roll, instead of a shocked gasp.
Proving the point, it must be said that the two best episodes of this season are the ones without Matt Berry. While Season Two of the IT Crowd is less wow and more routine than its breakout debut, there are two episodes here that aren’t just the best of the season, but perhaps the series as a whole. One sees Jen’s date to the theatre turn into a work outing, a story that starts amusing, but breaks off into splinters of endless comedy. Jen tries to figure out if her date is gay. Moss gets too wrapped up in the theatre. Roy gets stuck in a disabled toilet. The Work Outing is a comedy master-class and proves the point that this show is at its very best, where it is simply O’Dowd, Parkinson and Ayoade doing what they do best: failing miserably at life. The second example of comedy genius is a dinner party, where Roy and Moss are unleashed on normal people. Again, the writers split each character off on their own mini-arc. Guest stars are introduced but feel crucial, rather than narrative points. The ending will have you splitting your sides with laughter. But outside of these episodes, there are strong jokes too. Moss gets on the Dragon’s Den. Jen takes up smoking. Roy has to make it to the end of a film without anyone spoiling the twist. While there is a drop in quality, the IT Crowd is still a strong source of finding laughs. Easy to watch, hard to put down.
Final Verdict: Perhaps the writers drop the ball in some areas, but the central core of the show remains amusingly hilarious.