It can’t have escaped your attention that The IT Crowd returns for a one-off special on Friday, September 27th. The first – and most likely final – episode since 2010 airs at 9pm, as part of a whole night devoted to the beloved sitcom, and TVO has been lucky enough to see the results.
Here, then, is our spoiler-free preview…
© Hal Shinnie
As the cast of Not The Nine O’Clock News once famously sang, saying ‘Kinda Lingers’ and then walking away is, at least, better than saying goodbye, “cos goodbye is the hardest word to say”. The ethos of this enthuses The Internet Is Coming, the final episode of seminal cult comedy The IT Crowd.
Beginning in 2006, the show saw Father Ted creator Graham Linehan take his love of technology and internet culture, and transpose it upon three hapless heroes – shambolic Roy (Chris O’Dowd), uber-nerd Moss (Richard Ayoade) and hapless Jen (Katherine Parkinson). Much like his earlier work on …Ted and Black Books, the show took it’s central trio into increasingly silly situations, keeping their characters just on the right side of two-dimensional to be believable and adorable, without ever spoiling the winning formula.
That the family also included a deranged boss – first Chris Morris as Denholm, later Matt Berry as Douglas - and occasionally depressed goth Richmond (Noel Fielding) – just helped sweeten the deal. The characters were loud enough to understand on first viewing, and the performances matched the pitch perfect scripts. It’s hard to argue the show isn’t one of the highlights of the last decade, and propelled it’s three leads to superstardom.
© Hal Shinnie
And that was the problem – it’s taken four years to get them back together for one last hurrah because O’Dowd, Ayoade and Parkinson have become megastars, and rightly so. Yet in spite of this, The Internet Is Coming never feels awkward, or even that there’s been such a long break since they were together on screen. To all intents and purposes, this is business as usual.
The plot, from what little we can reveal, concerns the usual social faux-pas which the gang typically find themselves in. This time around, Jen and Roy accidentally find themselves the star of a viral video when a trip to get a good cup of coffee ends disastrously, while Moss turns to Douglas to ‘shoot-the-shit’ and find new levels of confidence, and Douglas does his best to get out of filming an episode of Secret Millionaire.
© Hal Shinnie
Each character gets a chance to shine, with Moss’ shopping trip and subsequent street encounter in particular standing out as easily being one of the funniest things the show has ever put on screen. Part of the fun with Linehan’s sitcom work has often been how obviously he signposts the tropes of sitcom expectations, whilst also ensuring the ride towards the obvious outcome becomes the real surprise, and that’s particularly the case with Roy and Jen’s attempts at redemption via a nifty presentation.
Elsewhere, Linehan’s gift for satirical spoofing shows no signs of slacking. Graham knows the internet well, and uses this knowledge to his advantage across Moss’ new web show, jokes about viral videos and a cheeky dig at online-anarchists Anonymous. There’s also a short but sweet celebrity cameo that raises a quick titter, and of course, a certain other character makes a charming, albeit brief return following a tiny spot of nudging and nurdling and being in the right place at the right time.
Throw in enough gentle callbacks to previous episodes, including a truth which proves shocking to one character in particular – and a final scene that offers a few small morsels of closure for Roy, Moss and Jen, and we’re left with a warm glow inside. Sure, the nature of the plot means there are precious few scenes of the whole gang in one place, and perhaps there will be some out there who long for something on a larger scale, but somehow this seems as close to perfect as it could get, and by not dwelling on the goodbyes, the IT department can kinda linger, forever more.