Take two hopeless I.T. nerds (one a slob and one a bespectacled social misfit), and add one pathologically lying people expert.
That's the setup for "The IT Crowd," a fun little workplace sitcom that sits on the other end of the comedy spectrum from "The Office" -- in particular, hardcore farce. The first season is six episodes of pure weirdness and mild surreality, mostly focusing on desk rabbits, corporate goths, disastrous dates, too-small shoes, Aunt Irma and the occasional desk fire.
As the story begins, Jen (Katherine Parkinson) is hired by the deranged CEO Dernholm, whom she has told that she knows plenty about computers. Unfortunately, he doesn't plan to have her working on the levels that are full of "lots of sexy people, not doing much work, and having affairs."
So he sends her down to the I.T. department, a filthy basement occupied only with "standard nerds" -- an embittered slob named Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and socially oblivious Moss (Richard Ayoade). Despite the fact that they keep the company from imploding, nobody appreciates them ("Have you tried turning it off and on again?"). Initially the guys loathe Jen and vice versa, but gradually they start to appreciate one another.
But that doesn't stop the weird plots that ensue, obviously: Roy disrupts an anti-stress seminar while Jen grapples with foot-deforming shoes (think reverse childbirth). The arrival of Jen's "Aunt Irma" causes the geeks to have PMS. A disastrous date causes Roy to try to prove that women love jerks, and Jen's crush on a security guard goes horribly awry when he uses her as his lifeline on "Do You Want To Be A Millionaire?"
Even stranger, the boys forbid Jen from opening The Red Door, but when Roy is trapped under a woman's desk Jen opens it and unleashes the gloomy horror within. And when Jen tries to avoid an obnoxious date, Moss ends up inadvertently spreading the rumor that she's died (while Roy tries to avoid a savage Yetilike woman).
"The IT Crowd's" first season has a few bumps in the road ("The Haunting of Bill Crouse" way overextends some of its jokes) but is overall a pretty solid sitcom -- think a more farcical version of "The Office" with a dash of "The Mighty Boosh." It even has Noel Fielding as the supremely freaky goth that lives down in the basement like a vampire.
And it's got some great running jokes like Dernholm's demented moodswingy personality ("Now stay away from me, you goblin!!") and the idiots who call IT because their computers are unplugged. But each episode has its own running gags: toe-deforming shoes, office fires, and Jen accidentally convincing her treacherous date that she's a vengeful ghost ("Sttoopppp telling people you slept with meeeeee...") And the dialogue is a big oozing bundle of hilarity ("I didn't even know she was pregnant... I thought she was stealing office equipment!").
The core three actors are all brilliant at their very different characters -- Parkinson (who looks like a slapstickier version of Gillian Anderson) is wonderful as a pathological liar and girly-girl with the worst office on Earth. O'Dowd is gloriously sloppy and resentful about the way the rest of the employees treat him (a necessary evil), and Ayoade is gloriously monotonic and clueless (including sending an email to the fire department because he couldn't remember the new emergency number).
"The IT Crowd: The Complete Season One" has a few weak moments, but its mix of office woes and surreal sitcomminess are priceless. Amazing Britcom!