The IT Crowd Loads Slowly But Will Pick Up

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The IT Crowd reboots (series 4.0) on Friday and we're keyed up like nerds anticipating a daytrip to the Apple Store. The new season isn't an upgrade but, thankfully, it hasn't crashed either. As usual, most of the action takes place is Reynholm Industries' basement, where two IT support misfits and their computer illiterate boss lurk miserably and mull over doomed schemes. We got a preview glimpse, and 4OD's letting you have one too!

Nothing's changed, except that scruffy Roy (Chris O'Dowd) has been dumped and left heartbroken. While he broods over photos of his lost love (actually, he's airbrushed her out), Jen (Katherine Parkinson) contemplates ditching her geeks for an entertainments officer position. Job in the bag, it doesn't go well. That is, until unlikely saviour Moss (Richard Ayoade) helps her woo clients (whose expectations of The Vagina Monologues the previous evening were not met) with a twenty-sided dice and crash course in Dungeons and Dragons.

Writer Graham Linehan (Black Books, Father Ted) is a master of light, silly gags and farms the funny from what are often corny set ups. Though The IT Crowd rarely exports side-splitting hilarity, Moss, Roy and Jen's banter is laced with enough fine lines and wily daftness to build up a fan base and avoid cancellation. Plus, the cast is unusually loveable, so the occasional flat joke is smuggled through unnoticed, or simply forgiven.

To begin with, Moss's nerdy nasal trilling, short-sleeved shirts and refusal to be brought down by his colleagues' constant moping put us off, but quickly he became the reason to tune in. The alpha geek gets all the best lines and his delivery -- arms folded, chin set back into his neck and a worldly-wise headshake -- can boost even the less spot on dialogue.

But it's the characters' three-way chemistry, when they're bundled together in their windowless IT prison, that transforms this old fashioned sitcom from a collection of moderately amusing sequences into a genuine, make-sure-you're-in-when-it's-on comedy treasure.

Roy and Moss are outcasts whose friendship formed, most probably, through lack of other options. There's a knowing bond between Roy and Jen because they're both canny enough to be frustrated with their lots, and Moss's obliviousness. Katherine Parkinson's quite like a young Miranda Richardson. You can hear a sardonic, resigned note in her mellifluousness. O'Dowd, meanwhile, is a messy, depressive Labrador. You want to scratch him under the chin and give him a bath. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. Okay, maybe not... Regardless, gentle funnies abound in The IT Crowd so tune in even if you don't fancy one of the cast.

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