The weather has turned cold and many of us are preparing for the long winter – filled with hot cups of tea, ill-fated attempts to wear 6 sweaters at once, and spending snowy evenings with your dear friend, Netflix.
And that’s where I come in. I’m a firm believer that Netflix time should be quality time. Until their algorithm improves, I’m hoping to spare you some time searching through their catalog and point you right towards the good stuff. So in this edition of Netflix Hidden Gems, I present you with April and the Extraordinary World.
It is quite possible that this show is much more well known than I have been lead to believe. In the year or so since I have watched it, I’ve only run into two or three other people whose eyes have lit up with both recognition and glee at the mere mention of Moss’s Abracada-bra or Roy’s Kermit witness protection program t-shirt. So in my eyes, more people need to stop watching The Big Bang Theory and log on to Netflix to watch the vastly superior IT Crowd.
The premise of the show is pretty basic. Jen (played by the hilarious Katherine Parkinson), is a woman with much more ambition than smarts. During a rather bizarre job interview, she manages to talk her way into the position of IT Manager at a large company. She soons finds herself managing the two IT guys in the basement – Roy, a raggedy guy with a short temper (played by Chris O’Dowd, now of Bridesmaids and Girls fame) and Moss (played by Richard Ayoade, recently seen in The Watch), a guy who is both strangely literal and cluelessly naive.
The IT Crowd is strong on a number of levels other than it just being funny. The show truly excels at making fun of the worlds of dating and work, and there isn’t a single performer in the show that gets consistently overshadowed by the rest.
And just to give you a taste of the show’s funnier moments, I found this little ditty for you on youtube. Quick intro: Jen suddenly realizes there is a red door in the IT office that she has never noticed before. A quick exploration introduces her to the 4th and rather secret member of her office – Richmond, an executive whose discovery of death metal and goth music has resulted in a demotion to the bowels of the building:
You enjoy that cameo by Noel Fielding? I did.
Other gems include the boys convincing Jen that the entire internet is housed in a tiny black box they lend her as a visual aid for an upcoming speech, Moss enrolling in what he thinks is a German cooking class but finding out the “I want to cook with you” ad means something else entirely, and my favorite episode that involves an awkward dinner party at Jen’s house.
In the end, the IT Crowd is a cheeky and very funny show. Rather than just spending all its time pointing and laughing at the nerds, the focus turns to the members of the IT team eventually learning to support each other and work through all the crazy situations together. Of course, that doesn’t mean all their witty jabs at each other go away either. What you end up with is a sassy and slick show filled with pop-culture references, a few parodies, and over the top antics.
The nerd/geek love is certainly there in spades as well. A person could spend hours looking through all the goodies they’ve got in their IT office – vinyl toys, indie comics, old gaming systems, and every kind of poster and clever bumper sticker you could think of. I will admit to not getting a lot of the references myself, but that is proof in itself that the show is pretty accessible to those who might not necessarily identify themselves as a nerd/geek.
If you are still not convinced that this show is worth your time, those of you who watch a lot of British TV might be excited to learn that this was the third series from Graham Linehan, creator of both Father Ted and Black Books. Oh, and there are scores of people out there who want to get their hands on some of the t-shirts that Roy wears throughout the episodes.
Lastly, if you have already seen The IT crowd and was wondering what else might be worth your time in the scary sea of Netflix Instant watch, here are a few other shows/movies that I have watched recently.
Black Books: Bernard Black is a surly bookshop owner/expert drunk who would rather tell you off than actually sell you a book. After yet another one of his crazy drinking sprees, he discovers that he has hired the recently laid off and rather chipper Manny as his new clerk.
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: Let’s imagine Kevin Smith wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer and replaced Buffy with a sex obsessed, pot smoking Canadian boy. Yeah, it’s pretty much that.
The House – Korean animated film about a girl who moves into a declining neighborhood and suddenly finds that she can see and talk to the spirits of the old houses. Very slow moving, but the animation style is interesting.