Fans of British sitcom The IT Crowd have been waiting three years for this. The show is returning — after a hiatus that would make the wait between Mad Men seasons feel like a commercial break — for a one-off finale on Sep. 27. We're dying to see what the Reynholm Industries IT department have been up to (and what they think about the iPhone 5c launch). While we wait these last few agonizing days for the return of Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Jen (Katherine Parkinson), and Moss (Richard Ayoade), let's take a look back at some of their best moments.
"This, Jen, is the Internet."
Roy and Moss lend tech-virgin Jen "the Internet" for her Employee of the Month presentation, but only after a blessing from the "elders" and a de-magnetizing by Stephen Hawking, of course.
Looking normal: easier said than done.
Jen, thrilled to be dating a "proper normal," is less than thrilled to have to invite her work mates to a couples dinner party. But, socially-challenged nerd or not, who doesn't feel awkward in situations like these?
"Wow. A gun!"
Reynholm heir Douglas (Matt Berry) finds a hidden note and emergency handgun in his father's old desk and tests it out in the safest way possible.
0118 999 881 999 119 725…3
Of course the easier-to-remember phone number for England's new-and-improved Emergency Services shows up in another episode. It's so catchy!
Roy describes humanity, concisely and accurately.
Well, he does.
Moss accepts a challenge.
Street Countdown is much the same as the regular British game show Countdown, except we play it on the street. And it can get awfully chilly. Moss has his thermals on though, so he's ready to roll.
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Caught up with Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Doctor Who and looking to scratch that lingering itch for the dry wit and impeccably plotted story that only British television can provide? Netflix and Hulu have a collective treasure trove of Anglo-centric masterpieces just waiting for your eyes and ears. Check out our recommendations in comedy, drama, and sci-fi, but don't blame us when you get addicted. Cheers.
Call the Midwife
Don't fret if you missed the PBS airing of this critically acclaimed drama. The first six episodes are available on Netflix Streaming and the second series of eight should be up soon. But we must warn you: Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jessica Worth who served London's poor East End as a nurse in the 1950s, will likely break your heart a few times. But, as with most British series, it'll be worth it.
Your plans for next weekend are sorted. Gather your pop-culture obsessed friends; load up on some truly terrible junk food; and marathon all 14 episodes of Spaced on Netflix. The reference-laden slacker comedy marks the first time Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright worked together. See if you can spot all the Spaced cameos and in-jokes in their big screen collaborations Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and summer release The World's End.
Torchwood: Children of Earth
The run of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood has its share of highs and lows. The season that's most worth your hard-earned free time is the masterfully bleak and self-contained Children of Earth. It's a far cry from the cheeky, innuendo-heavy first and second series, but the seemingly hopeless spot the Torchwood team finds themselves in will keep you glued to your TV until the final seconds.
The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is a gift to nerds and the people who love them. The laugh track is jarring at first, but you'll quickly tune it out and concentrate on the antics of computer experts Roy (Bridesmaids' Chris O'Dowd), Moss (Richard Ayoade), and their clueless boss Jen (Katherine Parkinson). Catch up on all four short seasons on Netflix to be ready for its one-off finale (and first new episode in three years), which is debuting at the end of September.
Where Heroes failed, Misfits succeeds. The premise: a strange electrical storm imbues a group of teenage deliquents with a variety of superpowers while they're completing their community service. The series seamlessly blends comedy, drama, and sci-fi with striking visuals to come as close to feeling like a filmed comic book than a TV show has ever been. The first four seasons are on Hulu Plus, and the fifth and final season is on its way.
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Every once in a while, Netflix adds a goodly amount of content to their Watch Instantly lineup. With slightly less frequency, they will add scores of new content. And once a year they will open the streaming content floodgates and a tidal wave of new instant viewing options comes crashing into your eyeballs. January 1 marked just such an occasion as over 450 new titles were added. If you’re anything like me, you will spend the next several months tearing into the new releases and spending far more time watching movies than should be legally permissible. But try not to get too distracted by your marathon sessions of Shaft’s Big Score and Robocop 3 that you fail to discover The IT Crowd.
If you’ve ever worked in a big office, or are currently working in a big office, then you are familiar with the delicate dance that commences whenever you are forced to call upon the IT department. It’s one of the few times in life that the nerds have the upper hand and they intend to make the most of it. I’m generalizing of course, but one constant that does seem to exist is the infuriating initial question: “have you tried turning it off and on again?” British television series The IT Crowd is a comedy that takes you deeper into the dungeon-like lair of those in the technical support department than anyone would care to be.
Unlike most British comedies, The IT Crowd does not rely on dry humor. The comedy comes from cartoonish characters that exist as hilarious exaggerations of people you may very well recognize from your daily life. But the brilliance of The IT Crowd over something like, say, The Office is that they are given an environment to be as ridiculous and uber nerdy as possible with little regard as to how true to life it seems. The fact that their IT department is sequestered from the rest of the employees in the building gives the show an opportunity to explore and satirize the more outlandishly absurd aspects of the corporate world.
The show focuses on Jen (Katherine Parkinson), a hapless but well-intentioned young woman who manages to bluff her way into a management position at Reynholm Industries only to discover she’s been assigned to the unpopular and completely neglected IT department residing in the basement. Her new underlings, Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade) are the most unrepentant geeks one could ever hope to meet. Moss sports a half-ro, high-rise pants, and coke bottle glasses while Roy’s carousel of nerd culture tee-shirts is awe-inspiring. The two of them engage in activities that both demonstrate their oddly compatible friendship and illustrate the cause of their social alienation.
The first series (not season, it is British after all) has them mostly dealing with interoffice fiascos—dating, stress, Jen’s special lady time—but the subsequent seasons see our heroes branching further and further away from the office. This allows them to wreak as much havoc on the citizenry of London as they do on their own coworkers. The show really hits its stride in the second series when Douglas (Matt Berry), the son of Reynholm Industries’ president, shows up. Berry is absolutely unhinged and even the preposterous trio from the IT department can’t make heads or tails of his antics.
The writing is sharp and wickedly clever and the characters are all instantly likeable for one reason or another. While some of the in-jokes are perplexing at first, drawing from British pop culture, the broader gags are sidesplitting. There are movie, music, and techno references taken to the nth degree in a glorious testament to the geekiness of the show’s writers. What really impresses me is the incredible and masterful slapstick employed with precision and impact. It’s not often seen in sitcoms and it blends well into the comedic stew that is The IT Crowd.
Series 1, 3, and recently 4 are available on Netflix Watch Instantly and Series 2 is available through their mail service. As you will certainly be hooked by the end of Series 1, waiting for the second through the mail will be well worth it.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Based on Noel Coward’s 1928 play and set in that period Easy Virtue is about John Whittaker a young Englishman who falls madly in love with a flamboyant American woman named Larita whom he immediately marries and brings home to meet his stuffy all-airs English family. What ensues is a battle of wits that turns to war between the visiting yank and her new mother-in-law who is determined to prove to her son that he has made an egregious mistake.
WHO’S IN IT?
Jessica Biel takes a flying thespic leap and holds her own in the middle of a sterling cast of fine British talent as Larita the feisty young wife of a naïve young man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her and expects his stuffy upper-crust family to fall in line. Biel is a delight as this thoroughly modern miss and shows she can adapt to the witty rhythms of Noel Coward’s rapid-fire repartee with the best of ‘em. And the best of ‘em includes the wonderfully talented and woefully underrated Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) as the doubting Mrs. Whittaker who doesn’t quite welcome the American intruder with open arms. Thomas’ performance is reminiscent of the haughty English societal roles she began her career with but she adds a dollop of vinegar to this one and appropriately glams down for full effect. Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) is at once smitten and perplexed as the impressionable new groom while the ever-reliable and appealing Colin Firth steals it all as his cynical and dour father the only other family member who sees the spark in Larita.
Shot entirely in some stunning stately mansions in the environs around Berkshire and Cambridgeshire Easy Virtue expertly captures the flavor of a sophisticated late-'20s British romp. The fresh and inspired casting of Biel in her first English foray should also find contemporary audiences responding. Although he occasionally opens things up a bit (including a very funny fox hunt) director Stephen Elliott wisely lets his cast take center stage with Coward’s constant zingers and spicy dialogue.
There’s nothing really new here that will make you go “Wow.” Though it’s all “been there seen that ” Easy Virtue is still done with verve and style. It’s a hoot for those who miss this kind of theatrical experience on the big screen.
When the others have retired to the patio Biel’s character accidentally sits on Mrs. Whittaker’s prized little pooch sadly squashing the poor little bugger to death. Her subsequent Lucy-esque attempts to cover up the crime are slapstick silly fun giving Biel the opportunity to display the kind of comic chops she didn’t get to show opposite Adam Sandler and Kevin James in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Netflix. The widescreen cinematography is nice to look at but this little trifle will play just fine at your own estate.
As Love Actually begins we are told that perhaps the world isn't such a dire and hateful place that "love actually is all around." Around London anyway. The film explores no less than seven different romantic scenarios within the bustling British capital--all of which interconnect and eventually resolve on Christmas Eve. There's the newly elected dashing Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who is smitten with his secretary the earthy Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); Karen (Emma Thompson) whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) has strayed with his seductive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch); Sarah (Laura Linney) the American wallflower who has a crush on her colleague Carl (Rodrigo Santoro); Jamie (Colin Firth) who falls for his pretty Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz)…there are lots more but you get the gist. As love goes things may not get tied up neatly in brightly colored packages for everyone but there's still enough good cheer to spread around.
Showcasing some of Britain's finest actors Love Actually doesn't have a bad banana in the bunch. Floppy-haired Hugh Grant turns in an endearing performance and proves there isn't a romantic comedy he can't handle. He has an uncanny knack for connecting with any actress he happens to be romancing; in this case it's the adorable McCutcheon best known for the hit British TV drama EastEnders. Rickman and Thompson are quite good as the couple whose long-term marriage is beginning to crack; Thompson especially does a nice job trying to hide her pain while being a happy mom. Linney too shines as Sarah who glows with excitement when she finally gets what she so ardently wished for. Veteran stage and film actor Bill Nighy (Underworld) however steals the show as a carefree aging rock star desperate for a comeback. His Billy Mack smacks of Mick Jagger Keith Richards and Rod Stewart all rolled into one.
"I'm worried that we don't have the word 'massacre' in the title " writer/director Richard Curtis fretted to Entertainment Weekly referring to how horror-loving American audiences might not take to his new romantic comedy that is already a huge hit in Britain. True perhaps a romantic comedy starring a multitude of A-list British actors might not bring in the required masses. But who cares about the money (did I just say that)? Curtis who has written some of the best romantic comedies of the last decade including Four Weddings and a Funeral Notting Hill and Bridget Jones' Diary steps behind the camera for the first time here and is able to give each story a unique point of view from the lovesick to the wacky. There actually may be too many stories in Love Actually but it's a small gaffe. Love Actually is a refreshing good old fashioned warm and gushy movie that takes your mind off the bad things for the holiday season and Curtis should feel confident about his directing debut.