The IT Crowd

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Airdate: 10-10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, IFC

At once distant and indispensable, those who work in Information Technology are a breed unto themselves. British writer Graham Linehan captures some of that geek mystique in a six-episode series, "The IT Crowd," that proved popular in the UK.

American viewers might see it as a cross between "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on FX and "The Office" on NBC: The "IT" characters are English cousins of the self-absorbed, shallow folks on "Sunny," but they're also part of a larger business organization to which they can scarcely relate.

Linehan, who says he intended to create " 'Seinfeld' with laptops," was obviously influenced by the story structure of the classic American comedy. The surprise comic twists of "IT" are often the best parts of the series.

In the premiere, Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson) is hired to manage the IT department at Reynholm Industries, a large, faceless company. (A running gag is that none of the employees seem to know exactly what the company does.)

Jen padded her resume to boost her computer experience, which in reality, consists of Web-surfing and using e-mail. Nonetheless, she is assigned to manage the two-man IT department located, of course, in the building basement.

Amid spare keyboards and other miscellaneous parts, she supervises, at least nominally, socially awkward Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy (Chris O'Dowd). Moss is the earnest and naive one, eager to help even though no one understands his technical jargon. Roy is the overconfident slacker whose biggest accomplishment is an automated voice system that tells callers to reboot or check that their computer is plugged in.

Perhaps aided by the advent of the global economy, there is a universality to "IT" that makes at least some of it instantly relatable. Ayoade, O'Dowd and Parkinson are terrific as employees who want only to keep their jobs but not let them interfere with their personal lives. If the show gains any buzz on IFC, look for an American adaptation within a couple of years.

Production company: Talkback Thames
Series producer: Ash Atalla.
Producer: Derrin Schlesinger.
Line producer: Jo Hunter.
Production executive: Beatrice Gay.
Director/writer: Graham Linehan.
Studio director: Ben Feller.
Designer: Dennis De Groot.
Editor: Paul Machliss.
Art director: Dick Lunn.
Music: Neil Hannon.
Casting: Sarah Crowe.
Cast: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, Chris Morris, John Willie, Hopkins Crowe.

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