Will Preston

Breaking the rule of three. Series four of the IT Crowd on Channel Four.

by on Jun.23, 2010, under Review, Television

IT CROWD 4

I always thought a good subplot would be Moss getting the ability to tell the time with the wedge in his hair.

The rule of three hangs over the best British comedies that the terrestrial channels can offer. Rather than drag on for another ten barrel scrapping series, memorable British sit com’s get the hell out the room before they overstay their welcome and descend from their dizzying peak. Too soon in some cases.

 

Notable exceptions to this rule of course, include Blackadder, Peep Show and Men Behaving Badly.

Out of all the comedies in the past 20 years, the last one I would expect to be up for a fourth series was the IT Crowd. Tell a lie; the last one I expected was All About Me, but I feel sorry for Jasper Carrott every time I think about that show.

The reason for my doubt has nothing to do with actual show itself, but rather with the writer Graham Lineham. With his co-writer Arthur Matthews, they have worked together with some of the best comedy writers in the last couple of decades, their most well known being the outstanding Father Ted. Out of all contemporary comedy writers, I would expect either of them to respect the unwritten rule of three.

Respect it and fear it.

And out of nowhere comes the fourth series of the IT Crowd, a show that didn’t disappoint often, but still didn’t have a noticeable enough fanbase to suckle out more airtime from Channel Four’s alternative teet. As soon as news broke out about the impending series, my mind was cast with doubt that I would be witnessing something worth watching.

Well a couple of minutes in and I was already giggling. Something that The Inbetweeners had a hard time doing. The plot was set at the beginning with promise of semi-predictable farcical nonsense. What more can you ask from a sit-com.

By the third series, they had pretty much moulded the characters so well that there wouldn’t be anything to add to the regulars at all. The jokes would be sort of new, but the Moss, Roy and Jen would act in ways you could probably see coming a mile off. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Case in point being Matt Berry, who plays his character past the point of irony that he’s probably laughing at himself whilst sitting right behind as you watch him.

Berry’s Douglas Reynholm feels like he’s operating in a different show in another dimension. He’s less of a fish out of water, more of a chimp in a swamp. Every line he uttered was more or less waiting to happen, but you waited patiently because you knew you would laugh the moment he said it. He’s like a friend who you barely see who spends all of his time under the guise of a cartoon character, riffing well timed sly talk with little regard for his reputation.

I want one in my living room.

The plot of this weeks episode followed the simple ‘bite-off-more-than-they-can-chew task’ template adding in a climactic game of Dungeons and Dragons. Twelve sided dice jokes were made when necessary. After staying up late to catch this (It was on 4OD and on my things to do!), I was urging for the episode to finish more than I was urging it to crack out some witty water-cooler-quoting material.

A promising start, but it will take more than Godfather references to make me stay up late again.

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