Friday, October 22, 2010

Best sitcom of the last ten years.

I understand that people say how comedy is subjective, but nevertheless, if I had to pick the single best sitcom in the last ten years, it would be The IT Crowd.

The IT Crowd? Yeah, you probably haven't seen it. It's a British sitcom that has been running on Channel 4 for the past four years.

It's about three IT support team members, Roy, Moss, Jen and their boss Douglas working in the basement of a fictional company Reynholm Industries.

Or should I say, "working" because none of them seem to be interested in their work. Some seem to be even wildly incompetent (especially the head honcho Douglas).

Despite the show's premise, most of the time the show really isn't about their work. I guess it's more a show about the absurdities of life.

For example, a running joke on the show is the question about what the "IT" stands for. We haven't gotten an answer so far.

The show is filmed both in front of a live audience and also on location. The creator and the writer of the show Graham Linehan is also known for the comedy series "Father Ted".

Now, what makes the show perhaps the best live-action comedy on tv? Probably the best way to answer that is by providing you actual material from the show.

This clip from "The Work Outing" (S2E01) doesn't unfortunately include the whole episode, but in any case the story goes here that Jen, Roy and Moss go to a theater to see a "Gay musical, Gay".

Watch what happens here. After failing to use the bathroom for customers, Roy decides to use a restroom for the disabled while Moss uses the restroom reserved for the staff.

The scene where Jen finds Roy in a wheelchair and Moss as a bartender is not only totally absurd but also one of the funniest I'll ever see.

Or how about this other clip from the very same episode? Jen's date seems to be a bit gayish and in the end she can't resist anymore and asks the inevitable question. I bet you didn't see that twist coming.

That is what comedy should be but unfortunately most of the time really isn't.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Graham Linehan both wrote and directed "The Work Outing". In fact, he has written every episode of the series from scratch and has also a co-director credit on each one of those.

It has been said that the quality of the show is because of Linehan's clear vision and because the show isn't group written, like for example Two and a Half Men. (some call that "comedy by committee" writing)

I myself believe that Graham Linehan is a comedy auteur and that the guy is obviously a genius. (I guess David Kelley who wrote basically every episode of Ally Mcbeal qualifies too)

In any case, writers like these make the rest look like complete amateurs. It's like pack your bags and go home.

Now, it shouldn't also come as a surprise that a couple of years ago NBC tried to remake show in the U.S, like it did with The Office. The pilot wasn't picked up. I've seen it and it was pretty awful to be honest.

The original show is such an unique combination of deadpan writing, acting and directing that I believe it's impossible to transfer it for the needs of the U.S audience. I just don't think it can be done.

But I've heard that there's another remake coming up later next year...

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