Sure, people will harp on about The Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang Theory does seem to have more geek references with their obsession with Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and anything related at all to Joss Whedon (They constantly reference his cancelled cowboys-in-space series Firefly and, of course, Whedon’s seminal series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But for all the nerdiness of Sheldon, Raj, Howard and Leonard we should remember those IT gurus Roy and Moss in Channel 4′s The IT Crowd.
Another Hit for Graham Linehan
Created by Father Ted’s Graham Linehan The IT Crowd is, as the title suggests, about the IT department in company in England. Anybody who has had ANY dealings with their company’s IT department can testify to the sharp observational nature of the humour: One of the main characters just answers his phone with “Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?” and their social skills with their co-workers and others? Well… well, they could be improved alright.
But, while the humour doesn’t really rely on the nerdy it’s the details that make it the geekiest show on Free TV in my opinion. I mean check out that basement set. Sure, everyone spots the old Apple Mac and the Space Invaders stickers on the guys desk but it’s the more subtle signs I’m looking at. It’s one thing to name drop Firefly in The Big Bang Theory it’s another thing to spot a small poster containing no writing, just a shadow. Just to the left of the top of the entrance to the basement. You see it? Well that’s a poster to Joss Whedon’s internet only web series Dr. Horrible’s singalong-a-blog…… Yep. And that camel sticker behind Moss? That’s the logo for the unix based language Perl. Instead of having two subtitling options on the DVD; English and English for the hearing impaired, The IT Crowd also has another subtitle option 1337 “Leet” This converts the dialogue into net leetspeak.
The more obscure, the better
Even more than the basement though is Roy’s T-shirts. They range from the fairly straight forward “I Read Your E-mails” and “OMFG” to RTFM” RTFM stands for Read The F****** Manual. Initially used, unoficially of course, by support personnel when confronted by people misusing their products. Now it’s actually pretty much acceptable. IBM have an acronym look up tool, entering RTFM brings up Read The “Function” Manual, complete with the quotes. Who says big corporations don’t have a sense of humour. Some of his T-shirts are really obscure. One has what seems to be an outline of a square-ish cartoon character with the words “Never Forget” underneath. This is a reference to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon series. Specifically the movie version. As part of a viral advertising campaign, they left various models of the characters around the city of Boston.
HS not in one the joke……
All went well until, bizarrely, one was thought to be a bomb. Homeland security and the bomb squad was called in, the street closed off and the model blown up by the bomb squad. Homeland security then pressed terrorism charges against the producers (But the case was thrown out of court). However, probably the MOST nerdy T-shirt worn was what looked like a series of random coloured squares stacked vertically. I used to work in a video arcade and can tell you that this is either an boot-up screen or a kill screen (When the minimal onboard memory buffer on these ancient games is full and causes the game to crash) There really aren’t many people who have seen this screen (You may have heard of the Kill Screen if you saw the documentary King Of Kong.
Takes one to know one
So while it may not be as overtly nerdy as The Big Bang Theory underneath The IT Crowd is the geekiest thing this side of a Star Trek convention…… And yes, I do realise I’m just as nerdy to spot them……..