So, Derek.

“Hello and welcome to Robert’s Web, the Channel Four programme with a surprising approach to the disabled. COMPASSION.” – Robert’s Web, Channel Four, 2011.

So, Ricky Gervais’ new ‘comedy drama’ Derek just aired. We know it was a comedy drama because there was thoughtful piano music playing beneath most of the scenes.

Much of the pre-publicity was about whether Gervais was playing the lead character as disabled or not. Ricky Gervais himself swore that he wasn’t because that would be wrong, and he would never do that kind of thing.

imageWell, not since the internet told him off for doing it, at around the same time as a spectacularly misjudged promo for showings of The Office US on Comedy Central UK:

But this was to be different. It was going to be sensitive, and the main character was just a bit socially clumsy with a heart of gold.

So, was it good? For our money, nowhere near as terrible as Life’s Too Short, but any high points of the programme were instantly outdone by Gervais portrayal of the title character. It’s all very well putting the seeds of a sensitive heartwarming comedy in place, but to have most of the action centred around a character played as a live-action cartoon – lower jaw jutted out, shuffling around with an arched back in the manner of someone unconvincingly pretending to do just that – undid any good there might have been. If Derek had been played by a more convincing actor, our reaction could easily have been along the lines of “a watchable pilot, once the kinks are ironed out and the script given an extra draft it could become a lovely little gem of a show”.

As it was, well, meh. But hey, as his work for Channel Four goes, it was slightly better than Being Ricky Gervais.

ANYWAY, that’s not why we’re here. How have his Twitter army of fans taken to this sensitive comedy drama that definitely isn’t about mocking those with disabilities? Well…

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Hmm.

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Wonder why he only retweeted the sensitive mentions for the show, not the ones we’ve found?

2 comments:

Rob M said...

I think I liked it more than you, but your point about the 'live-action cartoon' is spot on.

It's really weird. It has the makings of a genuinely touching programme, and he's saying lines that would fit in that programme, but the physicality is... well, like a comedy character from The 11 O'Clock Show.

Not just the fake shuffle, the comedy hair and the jaw jut, but the latter is something he seems to forget to do until he finishes each line of dialogue. So most every line of sometimes quite sweet sentiment is undercut by a self-conscious gurn to camera at the end.

It's not just his performance, though. Again, you're right about the extra draft, to soften things like the bizarre slapstick headbutt where it seems to change to a different programme.

I'm surprised how much it overcame my anti-Gervais bias and made me want it to be that bit better. But with everyone else being naturalistic (including Karl, despite bad wig,) he needs to get humble and perhaps take some acting lessons or just stop appearing in his shows.

El Condor said...

I notice the SOTCAA boys are trying to reeducate about Gervais on Twitter, much as I love them for doing so, there's only so much one can do against a closed mind