Black Magic

I don't generally put a lot of stock in the Netflix (Amazon, etc.) algorithms that put together those if-you-like-THIS-then-you'll-like-THAT recommendations. Their logical leaps are pretty tenuous. Computers weren't the only beings to push me in the direction of the 2000-2004 show Black Books, though. Anytime I'd mention my love of The IT Crowd, the conversation would inevitably turn to someone saying "Oh, then did you watch Black Books?" - followed by a stern order to find it immediately. Both are shows associated with Graham Linehan, though Black Books was more the work of star Dylan Moran.

It's a British show, so it naturally didn't take long for me to work through all three seasons (there are only 18 half-hour episodes). It takes place in a small, cluttered bookshop run by misanthropic Irish grump Bernard Black (Moran), who does little but read, drink, and smoke. He hates just about everyone but his like-minded friend Fran (Tamsin Greig), but during one of his alcoholic benders, he inadvertently hires a cheery assistant, Manny (Bill Bailey). The series revolves around this trio, and their confrontations with competitors, dates, parents, customers, and each other.

The nihilistic characters make for a lot darker show than The IT Crowd was, but never to the point that I wasn't engaged with it. I grew to loathe the characters in Peep Show, and had to drop the show, but whenever Black Books threatened to get too bleak, something would come along to make me laugh out loud. It can never replace The IT Crowd in my heart, but for once, the recommendation robots were right, and I got to experience a fun show that I otherwise would have missed.

Black Books: B


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