Father Ted creator and Black Books director Graham Linehan’s latest series hits all the right buttons at just the right time. As our culture has embraced the once derided geek or nerd, this program hails the subculture of comics, toys, video games and computer trivia making it one of the most timely programs to arrive in ages.
The program centers on the relationship between IT engineers Roy and Maurice Moss (or Moss for short) and their new manager Jen Barber who is thrust upon them by their absent minded CEO Denholm Reynholm (played with aplomb by cult comedic icon Chris Morris- creator of Nathan Barley and Jam). The three are opposite ends of the spectrum as the two IT veterans are social misfits and their new boss knows nothing about technology. This prompts the trio to help each other out by filling in the blanks each one lacks. It’s a basic premise. In fact, all of Linehan’s comedies seem to have very basic premises and I think it’s just an efficient way of him saying ‘can we just get on to the jokes?’
Similar to the characters in both Father Ted and Black Books, no one in the progarm seems all that interested in doing any work. In fact Roy takes the time to invent a reel-to-reel phone device that acts as a stand-in for himself when the phone rings, prompting callers to ‘turn it on and off again’ when they report an IT issue… which is usually a suffcient solution. The cast is brilliant but I have to single out the versatile Richard Ayoade (Moss) who can also be seen in Darkplace as Garth Marenghi’s agent Dean Learner. It’s really something seeing him in this role and he embodies the physical awkwardness of Moss so perfectly that you wonder how he functions at all.
The BAFTA award-winning program has enjoyed three seasons and is scheduled for a fourth in 2010. Episode plots range from men sharing the experience of having a menstrual cycle, the revelation of the secret goth IT tech (played by the Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding) and the psychotic breakdown of a visiting stress-relief expert. It’s all very corny and straight-forward making the program seem a bit simple at times, especially in comparison to the more overly complex British comedies such as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or the Mighty Boosh but I think therein lay its charm.
In the US, the series can be seen on IFC and is finally out on DVD.