This Sunday (or Monday if you’re a Brit like me), Breaking Bad will air its final episode, the culmination of five series’ worth of build-up, intrigue and fodder for silly comics. Yet on Friday, another TV show aired its final episode, an hour-long special bringing Graham Linehan’s The IT Crowd to a close. The IT Crowd was not as funny as Linehan’s other show Father Ted – though it sure as Hell was better than Count Arthur Strong – but the story of two IT workers and their relationship manager has mostly been entertaining and has brought a lot of madcap situations, like geeky Moss being trapped in an arcade prize machine and manager Jen becoming paranoid about a builder pissing in her sink.
But it did have its dips in quality too. Series 4 may have had such wonderful moments like “Street Countdown” but it ended on a low note; the tired “Reynholm vs. Reynholm” was probably the show’s weakest episodes. When I finished watching it, I thought, ‘Well, I hope the next series is better.’ There wasn’t a next series though. Three years after the fourth series, we instead got this special, “The Internet is Coming”, to conclude the show. Thankfully, said special was a major improvement over the show’s previous instalment.
Linehan’s Father Ted also had an hour long special, A Christmassy Ted, and in the DVD commentary for that special, Linehan comments that he believes the episode is too long and drags a bit. Though A Christmassy Ted was good, it did feel somewhat padded, but thankfully, “The Internet is Coming” moves at a more zippy pace. Then again, it does feel like it takes a while to get to the plot.
Jen (Katherine Parkinson) and awkward IT worker Roy (Chris O’Dowd) begin to live a version of The Simpsons’ “Homer Bad Man” when Jen accidentally throws her coffee onto a homeless person and Roy gets into an argument with a small person. Thus they are given the unenviable titles “Coffee Toss Homeless Bitch” and “Small Person Racist” and are further vilified by the internet and the media.
The IT Crowd isn’t the type of show to have a big spectacular action-packed finale – we aren’t going to see Mr. Reynholm walk out of his office with half his face missing – but the plot for this special feels more like a plot for a regular episode than a finale. There is still the feeling that things are ending though. We have references to previous adventures – they are cute ones too, they resisted the temptation to do a clip show – and things do wrap up for the heroes at the end.
Though of course the most important factor of a comedy special is the comedy. Is “The Internet is Coming” funny? Hell yes it’s funny. It’s “nerd humour” that the special offers, but it manages to utilise that tricky chestnut well, better than Big Bang Theory usually does – the closest it really comes to Theory is an opening gag about Marvel trivia. Moss (Richard Ayoade) has a Youtube series reviewing board games, and it is pretty damn similar to a lot of amateur review shows I’ve seen on the tubes, especially in its “revised” form. Ayoade knows how to do so-bad-it’s-good, which can be seen in the brilliant Garth Merengi’s Darkplace. It’s Moss that gets the biggest laughs, through his subplot of using a certain piece of clothing – I won’t spoil which piece of clothing – to help him become more confident. Jen and Roy’s story also accurately and hilariously reflect most internet memes and Mr. Reynholm (Matt Berry) is a treat to watch in Secret Millionaire.
It shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that everything turns out alright for Moss and Roy and Jen, but the important thing is that their happy ending feels earned. The IT Crowd ended on a high note with one of their strongest and funniest episodes.