Monday, January 09, 2012

1679 - Life's Too Short: season one

I think that it goes without saying that Merchant and Gervais are two of the most inspiring people working in comedy today.  Their first two series The Office and Extras are near perfect - especially their finales. I was ridiculously excited to see this new series, the title alone along with the concept was a lot of fun, and the idea that Merchant and Gervais would be playing themselves.  It's their usual awkward humour, and it's probably never more awkward than it is here.  And I know that I'm echoing this from other reviewers, but it really does feel that Warwick has been asked to turn himself into the next David Brent (which he does wonderfully).  You're never rooting for him so much as you're excited to see just how terribly he's going to mess up whatever situation he's in.  Or when something good happens, how bad it's going to become shortly thanks to karma.  I can't imagine that in real life that Davis is anything even close to the asshole he plays on the show, but he's quite terrible here, and it ultimately makes me wonder if this show isn't just about amusing the creators themselves... all you need to do is watch some one of the behind the scenes videos to see how enjoyable it is for Gervais to watch Warwick doing uncomfortable things.  And it's not unlike their reality series An Idiot Abroad, where he admits to the show being about him really like watching him put his friend in terrible situations.  Given that another season on this series has already been announced it might be far too early to write it off, but given where and how it ends I'm just not sure where it can and will go, and sadly, I'm not sure I care.  Unlike Extras and The Office there aren't any characters here who I actually like and want to root for, instead it's more like slowing down to watch a car wreck - which is fine the first time through, but hard to talk yourself into going back for a second glance.  The Huffington Post put it quite well:
There were laughs of course, and by the standards of average TV sitcoms Life's Too Short was excellent. But Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant will never be measured against the standards of average TV sitcoms - nor would they wish to be. The Office and Extras, particularly the denouements, made comedy into something stirring and beautiful and new.
In the end the disappointing thing about Life's Too Short wasn't that the falling out of cars and not reaching door bells felt like exploitation - it's that they felt like the freshest ideas on offer.
So if you love Gervais and Merchant then you'll want to give this a go, but it's far from their best work. 

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