i love it crowd, so it's a bit of a disappointment to realise we're already halfway through this series. friday's it crowd wasn't as fun, and neither was the second one actually, as the first one - where d&d is the solution to everybody's problems.
it crowd, for me, is a sitcom for people who love sitcoms; while it's so important to have it filmed with an audience, it's also important to have the three protags acting like people who've watched lots of sitcoms, and do what we think we would do in their situation. there's a 'knowing' element to it crowd - so many of the jokes are so ludicrously set-up that they gain another level of humour, yet still work on the base level. consider the friendface episode; when faced with a situation where the lies are becoming insurmountable, rather then screwing up their faces and going 'god, this is madness! how did we get into this awful situation?', the protags play along with it, make the lies even bigger, and eventually escape.
writer and director graham linehan was tweetering about rapid last-minute script re-writes - his 'apollo 13' moment. it's pretty obvious to me where it's going wrong - the lack of cohesiveness in the plots.
the best it crowd episodes have a perfect structure where each protag gets their own plotline out of a single concept and it ends in one scene where the storylines converge. 1 intervention (in the above example, social networking) - 1 plot line for each character - big denoument at the end where all the plotlines are reconciled and everyone agrees not to do intervention x anymore. nice, tidy, sitcom writing. problems that seem awkward slot in naturally and cancel each other out - 'we fit together like two halves of a badly cut bagel'. proper seinfeld/larry david stuff, and i know glinner would take that as the high compliment i intend it as.so what's happening this series?
in episode 1, the intervention is: twenty sided dice. jen has a new job entertaining clients, roy is heartbroken, and moss is eager to get people into roleplaying. three separate storylines, that all merge and in doing so everybody's problems are solved. jen's clients end up loving d&d, and moss roleplays roy's ex, and helps him work through his despair.
episode 2 had a great premise - moss gets involved with an illicit countdown winners' club. his story was brilliant, but roy's and jen's felt like weaker, filler stories, that didn't tie into each other at all, except that they were sometimes in the same room as each other. they both felt painfully short.
friday's seemed to go wrong again because of the same reason - the plots hardly crossed over at all, and it's good to read that they were totally meant to, even though that plot was junked. originally, so i read, roy becomes sweet billy pilgrim's manager, jen dates the keyboard player, but moss has to take over managing when roy is kissed on the bum by his masseuse and trips out on downers (and thus i imagine moss sacks the keyboard player, leaving jen to realise she only liked him because he was in a band). whatever was wrong with this (too much setting up, allegedly), it was obviously worse than what we ended up with, but the it crowd is at its best when everything ties together.
i'm not saying things need to be formulaic - well, i'm saying they're better when they are. part of the appeal of it crowd is how pure a sitcom it is, and linehan knows how to put together a good traditional sitcom. i just hope he doesn't continue to forget the golden rules.