Saturday, October 29, 2016

First time on DVD! THE IT CROWD: The Complete Series -- from MPI Media Group

Watching one of British television's (hell, television from anywhere) great series, THE IT CROWD, which ran from 2006 through 2013, proves just as spectacularly funny and off-the-wall an experience today, via the new DVD release of the complete series from MPI Media Group, as it did discovering it for yourself via the various sources it has graced down the years since its debut. If there is a single drawback, that would be the crass and stupid laugh track that accompanies it -- and which seems even louder and more crass now, sometimes nearly drowning out the delightful dialog, than it did a decade ago when the series made its debut.

The product of a very creative, talented and probably slightly unhinged writer/ director named Graham Linehan (shown at left), the show mixes to marvelous effect the talents of this funny fellow with those of his just-about-perfectly tailored cast of three leading actors plus several excellent supporting ones. Add to this the choice of the ideal workplace and occupation: the IT (Internet Technology) department located in the scuzzy basement quarters of a major corporation that seems to produce nothing and is run by perhaps the most obtuse, narcissistic and hilarious of bosses (think a British version of Donald Trump, if that sleazeball idiot were at all -- except for his appearance -- funny).

How all this works together for maximum effect -- silliness (based closely enough on reality to smart and sting) goosed into great, hilarious mountains of humor that arrives equally from character and situation -- is the stuff of legend. The cast, most of whom have gone on to some renown, includes Chris O'Dowd (above, center, and at bottom), Katherine Parkinson (above, left, and below) and Richard Ayoade (above, right, and at bottom)

Among the great episodes (there are many) is the one about the speech having to do with the Internet, in which one of our trio actually shows the audience the Internet itself! This is, I think, one of the funniest episodes I have ever seen because it makes such great use of so much that we think we know (and don't know) about the way we live now, while providing its characters (and actors) with the juiciest of moments to run with. And, oh god, they do.

A word must be said for subsidiary actors like Matt Berry (above, as the boss) and Noel Fielding (below, as, well, you'll discover who he is), both of whom add such bizarre and memorable moments to the show.

I do wish this amazing series could be separated from its god-awful laugh track. But I suppose we must be grateful for what blessings we have. And those, my friends, are copious indeed.

The new Five-Disc Boxed Set of the complete series hits the street this coming Tuesday, November 1, from MPI Media Group and includes the entire four seasons, plus the stand-alone program, The Internet Is Coming, which has never before been available here in the USA -- and is every bit as funny and wonderful as all that preceded it. Extras include a very nice 16-minute interview with Linehan and his cast.  

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