As the title suggests, this is a comedy set within the IT department of a huge multi-national company called Reynholm Industries. No one seems to quite know what Reynholm Industries actually does - least of all its boss, the ever-strange Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry) - but it does it well, apparently. In an early episode of season two, former boss Denholm Reynham (Chris Morris) hears from his board of directors that the company has made 'a profit so far this year of eighteen hundred billion billion' to which Denholm announces, 'When I first started Reynholm Industries I had just two things in my possession: a dream ... and six million pounds. Today I have a business empire the like of which the world has never seen the like of which. I hope it doesn't sound arrogant when I say that I am the greatest man in the world'. He then commits suicide following allegations of 'irregularities in the pension fund', paving the way for prodigal son Douglas to take over.
Meanwhile, down in the deepest bowels of the company skyscraper, in a nearly windowless suite of offices, sits the IT Department. It consists of Moss (Richard Ayoade), a curiously coiffured geek of the first water with many strange idiosyncracies attached to his obvious genius with computers, and Roy (Chris O'Dowd), a laid-back, comic reading, fast food junkie slacker with the work ethic of a sloth. In charge of the department is Jen (Katherine Parkinson) whose accidental promotion to head of IT has caused her some small degree of difficulty as she knows absolutely nothing about computers (even to the extent of pronouncing the word 'computer' incorrectly). There is a fourth member of the team, a strange, pale Gothic creature called Richmond (played gloriously by The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding) but he is only occasionally let out of his room as he is too depressing to be around. The show is penned and directed by Graham Linehan, one half of the writing partnership that gave us Father Ted, and with The IT Crowd he's scored another palpable hit.
We were doubly blessed last night as we got to see two of the six new episodes. Without providing any spoilers, the first revolved around Roy's and Moss's attempts to 'be like normal men', and the second around a speech that Jen has to make about computers - a subject she is wholly unequipped to talk about - when she has just alienated the two men who can help make the speech successful. A secondary plot in the second episode involved Douglas and his new love interest (Lucy Montgomery). Both episodes were very, very funny. Linehan has now fallen comfortably into a groove; the characters are established and work well together, the plots are as clever and surreal as ever and the gags are terrific. On the studio floor itself, we saw how much of a perfectionist he is as a director too. Several scenes were filmed three or four times with Linehan constantly suggesting improvements and enhancements. But he was right - every change resulted in something funnier than before, which was great for the energy of the audience. The cast too were great fun to watch. Chris O'Dowd is a natural comic with a very expressive face and a talent for giggling at inopportune moments. Richard Ayoade was extraordinary; he resolutely stays in character as Moss all the time that he's on the set, even during the fluffs and gaffes and corpsing that will undoubtedly become outtakes on the DVD. Four hours of recording absolutely flew by, ably assisted by the very talented and very funny warm-up guy, Tom Binns.
Behind the scenes - it's all smoke and mirrors. And paint.
A very enjoyable evening spent in good company. I look forward to the series and being able to show you a few more of the photographs in time.
Meanwhile, back at Castle Colgan, I'd left Dawn all alone to defend the family fortress from the hordes of suspiciously short vampires, witches, mummies, ghoulies, ghosties and long-leggity beasties that came trick or treating. She did so in excellent fashion with a combination of props, sound effects and weird voices. She got several satisfying screams in return.
Hope you had a great Halloween!