I'm In with The IT Crowd

What is it about British sitcoms that rarely translate to their bastard offspring here in America? The Office being the lone exception thanks to Ricky Gervais's creative input and a stellar American cast including Rainn Wilson and Steve Carell. Shows such as Monty Python, The Young Ones, Blackadder, Absolutely Fabulous, Father Ted, Extras, and now The IT Crowd just can't be replicated in America. Oh, we own cop shows, as well we should, being a gun-totting, Second Amendment-right-to-keep-and-bear-arms society, but this type of broad-based, cross-collateralized comedy we have a tough time pulling off. 

To fully appreciate the writing and acting requires a focused mind or one will certainly miss the rapid-fire double entendres and silly innuendo. Sure, some of this is sophomoric, gross, and even disgusting, like slowing down to inspect an accident, but it is remarkably fresh in an Office kind of way. For which, by the way, we have Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld to thank. This is humor about nothing. Or, more to the point, about the day-to-day lives of everyday people, whether traversing life's everyday obstacles in the fictitious Reynholm Industries, whose company motto is: "If you're not sexy, we don't want you working here." It's rare that this kind of comedy -- bring back Boston Legal immediately -- survives on American TV. Remember, before we had a deluge of cable outfits, it was PBS that imported Monty Python, not one of the big three networks so many years ago.

NBC tried, having produced The IT Crowd as a mid-season replacement with Jessica St. Clair, Joel McHale (The Soup), and Richard Ayoade (imported from the British version) to try to replicate the success of The Office. It was originally schedule to air in 2007 but didn't pass muster. Now it may hit in 2009, but don't expect much. Do yourself a favor and stick with the original on IFC.

We should thank Irish comedy writer/director Graham Linehan, one of the folks behind Brother Ted and Black Books. He's taken pity on socially inept, unappreciated folks from an IT support staff cloistered in a dingy basement office. Whether it's the team's unlikely boss, the pretty but computer-illiterate Jen (Katherine Parkinson), or super nerd IT troubleshooter Moss (Richard Ayoade), these characters remind us of folks we've all worked for, with, or under. All you goth fans should check out Episode 4, when Jen is left alone in the department and she dares to investigate a strange red door she's been told never to open. Or Episode 3, when IT's always bloodied in every episode, luckless-in-love Irish snob Roy (Chris O'Dowd) has a very wonky date, leading him to post an over-the-top singles ad.

The action is brisk, as stated above, some of the comedy frat-boyish AKA laddish, yet the characters are so very likable that one nearly feels sorry for the lot. I suspect that we see much of ourselves in their day-to-day trials and tribulations, much as Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer resonated with so many folks that Seinfeld will probably play in syndication forever. Season 3 will air on IFC starting February 2009.

Converge, Dusty


Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs, recently contributed to Chris Butler's The Devil's Glitch project (the longest song in the world), and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at William Morris!

Same cast new season

I am so sad that it only made it 3 seasons. This show has turned into one of my most favorite. It would tank if changed cast, and moved, so i suggest keeping the same group and kick starting this baby. The writing was brilliant, the cast was brilliant, the editing was great. I only wish i could work on this set. BRING BACK THE CROWD!!!!!

Brother Ted?

So what is this programme called Brother Ted? I think I must have missed that one.

Somethings just don't translate well

Being a Canadian I find myself stuck in the middle. On one hand we don't make allot of sitcoms, and when we do we come up with shows such as Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prarie. To which I fine both of them horrid, but it's doing great south of the border. To my recolection Canadians have produced 2 great comedies, Trailer Park Boys and SCTV. The former I never liked myself. Point being that we get 90% of our programming from the US and for Canadians like me whom have more of a feeling of relationship with the British and it's culture far more than with the US we tend to feel some connection when watching British TV.

Being a bit of an outsider it's plain to see that somethings just can't be translated. To call shows as Bastardized versions is a bit harsh. To say that The It Crowd has somehow broken new ground or that it can't be compared to anything else is going overboard.

Few sitcoms breakground, the Office opened an entirely new way of presenting, Sienfeld as far as I know was the first to do a show about nothing. The It Crowd while funny is not original in it's presenting or it's overall plot. Sure maybe there are no other I.T. based sitcoms but it's certainly not original. It's funny that's all.

I don't see any reason to get overly excited about what side of the pond makes better TV, who did what first or why or why not shows can't translate.
Shows have to be re-written and massaged and tweaked to go to one side of the Atlantic. Some people can see the humour and fun from both versions be it sitcoms such as the Office or dramas such as Life On Mars.

There are differences in the way TV is done that really make a difference.

Typically British seasons last 6 episodes and the seasons don't go on for a decade, barring a few exemptions such as the Young Ones or Summers Wine. They end on a high note, keeping you wanting more.
Typically American TV seasons last 22-24 episodes and can go on for ages, e.g. Friends, Mash, Simpsons etc... They get tired and just drag on forever, eventually the plug gets pulled when there is no more money to milk. Neither way is right or wrong, it depends on what you have grown up with. It took me a while to get used to short British seasons, but now that I have been watching them for a good decade I can find appreciation in both formats.

Language, while we all speak the same our slang is different as are our accents and in allot of cases simply having a quirky British accent makes it that much more funny. American shows keep the inuendo much more tame and there is no swearing unless it's on pay tv like Curb and even then it's kept fairly family safe. Shows like the Peep Show cross boundries that most likely would never be acceptable even on pay tv in the US but would show fine after 9 in Canada.

I never thought that the Office would make it in North America but it did, unfortunatle it eventually fell ill with long seasons, drawn out plot lines that went no where and an old cast. Unfortunatley I fear that if the seasons were cut to 6 episodes here the shows would be forgotten.

You can't compare anything to IT CROWD

I was never really a big fan of Seinfeld, regardless of it's standing as one of the top comedic shows on television. Seinfeld and The Office respectively, are funny shows and they both bring a degree of a realism and a comedic blend into a show. However, they still offer the same bland "Friends" type mix-mash of dialogue/punch line.

I can't even write a review about the IT Crowd. All I know is it relates to me, has absolutely ridiculous characters, suffers from no soap opera seriousness, is pure comedic fun and is one of my favorite shows on television. (See Adult Swim for related insanity.)

IT's Not Over...

The Office is one of the few British imports to make the transition. And I totally agree that Curb is classic, but remember Larry perfected this concept with Seinfield way back when he created the template with Jerry. Sex is so far out of touch with how New York women live and operate, so it's beyond parody of life in NYC. You'd ever noticed how the gals never see live music in NY. Are you kidding me? One of the greatest cities in the world for live music and not one episode about checking out any form of music!?! Arrested was cool but it's off the air. How I Met Your Mother is weak. And I prefer the cartoon characters in King of The Hill and South Park over the cartoon characters on 30 Rock any day. And I take The Shield over all of them, but it finally expired a few weeks ago.

To compare the IT Crowd to

To compare the IT Crowd to Seinfeld is blasphemy.

The IT Crowd is not so much fresh or realistic, as it is a blatant rehash of The Office. Ten years ago, a comedy about nerds working in an office together may have been considered fresh. But here, Linehan merely creates stereotypical characters that we've seen time and time before, and has given them different names.
A geek who lives with his mother, and speaks like a robot? How original!

This is a lame duck, compared to British sitcoms like Peep Show and Gavin and Stacey. I suggest you check them out.

And although some people will hate to admit this, over the last 5/6 years, American sitcoms have far and away surpassed anything that has come out of Britain. Shows like 30 Rock, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City, and The Office all far and away exceed British comedies in intelligence, wit and realism.

well that is the most

well that is the most ignorant american comment to an article ive ever read