IT WAS ALWAYS going to be a struggle finishing a lightweight frothy alternative comedy in the same week that two major long running US dramas close their doors - but how did the final episode of The IT Crowd fare compared to Breaking Bad and Dexter?
Well, the answer is 'not too bad'. The hour long special designed to give us one last outing for the three amigos, and give the story some sense of closure, succeeded in part on both counts.
First, our biggest criticism is that the core trio of Moss, Roy and Jen didn't have enough screen time together. With all three being far bigger actors than when the show began, this is hardly surprising and reflects the major problem with season four of Arrested Development, that of building a plot around the availability of the cast.
And so we were left with several different threads that tied up - sort of - at the end. What have we learned? Well, we learned that you should never take self-confidence tips from Douglas, lest you end up in women's clothes like Moss. You should never throw your coffee over a homeless woman or show prejudice against small baristas like Jen and Roy. And you should definitely not have a long, loud conversation with your art dealer when you're supposed to be on Secret Millionaire like Douglas, in perhaps our favourite sub-plot that saw him taking a group of council estate teenagers on a drunken rampage in his limo, dressed in a French aristocratic powdered wig.
In fact, it seems that the most successful of our old friends is Richmond, who despite being absent for much of the last two series reappears in this episode, his "Goth2Boss" venture having failed leaving him to make a career as a successful-ish voiceover artist.
And so as we hurtle towards the last 10 minutes of the double episode, where all seems at its darkest, with the trio under threat of being fired, the question is: how this can possibly have a happy ending? The answer was that they had to rush it. We won't spoil the ending here, but suffice it to say that it all felt a bit convoluted, certainly very, very rushed, and somehow less than satisfying.
Roy's realisation that the things that happen to them are "not normal" was supposed to be a revelation of sorts, but it got lost in the breakneck speed of the last quarter.
There were some lovely moments throughout, including some specifically catering for fan expectations. Of course Roy got to say "turn it off and turn it on again" and the very last voice of the episode is given to creator Graham Linehan, which was a nice touch. Other cultural references to Game of Thrones and hacktivist group Anonymous showed that Lineham certainly knows his target audience. However, we can't help but think that this really didn't add anything to the four series as they stood.
It certainly hasn't ruined the legacy of a fine sitcom that changed the game for repressed IT workers everywhere, but it felt like more of the same, whereas to bring the characters back really needed a bang, not a whimper, and what we actually got was somewhere in between. µ
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