A second series for both these shows. Saxondale returns with Steve Coogan with his own hair blonded and longer. The rest of the cast return to back him up in a very capable manner; however, it seems to have moved away from being a sitcom and into a gentle drama with some humour. The lines can be sharp and the storylines are still of the sitcom variety (small misunderstanding blown into a larger plot and resolved in 30 minutes), but it rolls along softly and all the characters do the same things – Ruth Jones as Magz is understanding as Saxondale’s girlfriend, Morwenna Banks is the common person playing Saxondale’s nemesis, Rasmus Hardiker plays naïve – with the addition of the annoying neighbour representing the worst of suburbia. It isn’t quite as funny as the first series; it makes you wonder if Coogan wasn’t involved, would the BBC still make it?
By contrast, The IT Crowd seems more confident in its second series. The first series was sporadically hilarious but didn’t seem to find its feet completely. The set-up was perfect and the characters good, just a little uneven. This time around, the silliness is left to unfold to its fullest – the brilliant anti-piracy DVD ad, the German cannibal, the Communist smoking story, the stupidity of the new boss laughing at the flies on his window – and is all the more comfortable and funny for it. Graham Linehan has let the show relax into just being funny for the sake of it. I don’t know if its up there with Father Ted or Black Books, but it can be equally funny when it wants to. (The recent news that the US version wasn’t picked up for a series, even with Richard Aoyade as Moss in it, provided a great response by Linehan on his blog, giving insight into how the US version should work, talking about what works in the US and over here.)