I started watching this with my boyfriend because he is a big computer nerd and heard good things about it I was unsure at first, because there is a ludicrous laugh track and I hate those on any show. Technically it’s filmed in front of a studio audience, so it’s not a laugh track but is actual laughter. Regardless, I hate it. But, just like with other shows, I have eventually gotten used to it. Still, I must say I do not comprehend why a laugh track is ever necessary, or why shows should be filmed in front of a studio audience. What is this, 1950?
Sorry, that was a slight digression. Anyway! Sometimes I dislike shows like this because they aren’t…the humor isn’t surprising. Sometimes I can predict the exact punchline in sitcoms, and I find them less funny because a large part of humor is the unexpected. The point is that once I got about 5 or 6 episodes into the show, I found myself laughing hysterically at every episode. The humor isn’t always surprising, but it is all done extremely well. A lot of what is brilliant about this show is the comedic timing.
The show revolves around two computer nerds in the IT department of a large corporation in London, who get a new manager with zero technological knowledge.
Roy, on the right, is played by Chris O’Dowd, who got pretty famous last year as the Irish cop from Bridesmaids. He plays your typical slacker type, complete with nerdy t-shirts, a bad attitude at work, and general snarkiness. At the beginning of the show, I imagined he would be my favorite character. This was before I knew how amazing Moss was.
Jen, the girl, is their new tech un-savvy manager, also known as a ‘normal’. She is disappointed to end up in the creepy basement with the creepy nerds. She thinks she belongs up on the higher floors, where the pretty, successful people are. Jen is obviously necessary for the show, and she can be quite funny, but she’s just not as interesting to me as the other two.
Then there’s Moss, on the left. Played by Richard Ayoade, whose name will become more familiar soon, I think. He directed a movie last year, Submarine, which is supposed to be a really good coming-of-age type film. I’ve put it on my queue. Later this year, he is starring in Neighborhood Watch with Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, and Vince Vaughn. The film has been pushed back because of the bad associations with the Trayvon Martin case in the news, but I think it is still coming out later this year. Or maybe they have just pushed back the marketing side of things, I’m not sure. News sources are a bit vague on what is going to happen in the next few months. Anyway, I am hoping it will be pretty funny because, and let me be clear on this, this dude deserves to be really famous and really successful. He is hilarious. Moss is your typical complete and utter computer nerd. Very few social skills. Very few life skills, if it comes to that. Ultimate example: He accidentally sets the office on fire and then emails the fire department.
The seasons of the show are short, so we watched seasons 1 and 2 in just a manner of days. They’re both only 6 episodes long. And now that I’m loving this show so much…I learn that they are not doing another season. Argh. Season 4 ended last year, I think, and they are doing a special sometime this year, but then that’s it.
Anyway, back to my review! No more tangents. This isn’t the sort of show with a real plot, so much so that you can watch most of the episodes in the wrong order and it won’t make much difference. Each one is a stand-alone, and once again this is not something I really like in shows. But this show does it so well and makes me laugh so much that it negates all my previous feelings about the traditional ‘sitcom’.
In some ways, it resembles Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc, because it features people who do one strange thing or tell a lie, and that forces them into stranger and stranger positions to hold up their original lie. An example: To avoid a bathroom at a theatre where there is one of those creepy attendants, Roy uses a handicapped bathroom. He pulls on the cord to flush the toilet and then realizes that the cord is actually an emergency handle. When stewards rush into the bathroom to help the handicapped person within, he lies on the floor and pretends to be disabled and that someone has stolen his wheelchair. Moss, also to avoid a creepy bathroom attendant, uses a staff bathroom. When someone catches him, he claims to be a staff member, and is put to work at the bar. Here’s some bits from that episode, just the first 3 minutes of the clip.
Another incident involves Jen needing someone to pretend to be her husband to fool old classmates at a reunion. Roy is busy on a date with someone he doesn’t care for, so she enlists Moss’ help. Then Roy, wanting to get rid of his terrible date, turns up at the reunion claiming to be Jen’s lover, and the three of them have it out at the reunion in front of everyone.
I am not sure what about this show is so funny. It has a lot of the qualities that I don’t like in a show, but it also has brilliant acting and timing that is unbeatable. I find with a lot of British shows like this one, Black Books, and Spaced, I grow more fond of them as the seasons continue. By the end, I love them, whereas my first impressions aren’t usually great. So, if you give this one a try, give it at least three episodes to make you laugh. If you don’t laugh by the point when Moss spreads a rumor throughout the office that Jen has died…then you’re not going to laugh at all.
At the rate I’m going, I expect to finish seasons 3-4 this weekend, so expect yet another blog post discussing the greatness of this show.