Thanks to the user AppleRobin on Youtube for uploading one of the funniest scenes of Thursday night’s episode; Les Dennis, Barry From Eastenders and Keith Chegwin (the z-list stars of Extras and huge cult favourites) discussing the best ways to commit suicide:
Life’s too Short Episode 6 is already over and with it we’re a step closer to the season finale. With the show largely behind us people are beginning to vent their frustrations. On reddit.com/r/rickygervais (a community of hardcore fans of Ricky, Steve & Karl Pilkington) a thread has sprung up with some particularly unkind words. Although I don’t agree with all of what’s said here (I am–in spite of finding faults along the way–still enjoying the show) but it is an interesting observation when we remember that these aren’t critics or people who don’t get the humour, they are self-selected fans of Gervais and Merchant’s previous work!
It sucks. The bit with the washing machine was the final straw for me. Lowest common denominator comedy. Maybe they think they don’t have to work hard because everything they do is gold. It stinks. Those glances to the camera that were so subtle in the office are now made by every single character over and over again. I think Gervais has lost touch. People don’t find height a funny thing, it’s irrelevant to us but it’s written like it’s supposed to be a mirror showing us our attitudes. It’s bullshit. I love everything else they’ve done, saw Merchant stand up a few weeks ago it was brilliant, love the podcasts and the radioshows, meet ricky gervais. I’ve been a fan since 11 o’clock show. This is a terrible terrible show.
I’ve tried to enjoy it but with every new episode it just feels more and more trite and lazy.
Last night’s episode was just awful, the scene with the washing machine and the plumber felt like it was written by Gervais in five minutes in the bath. REACTION SHOT after REACTION SHOT and very few laughs.
The whole show seems to rely almost totally on my finding Warwick’s height hilarious, and it just doesn’t do much for me at all. After the first three knocks at his height it just gets old.
It’s a shame.
I’m guessing the whole thing is a vehicle for cameos that Gervais finds hilarious. It reminds me of what movies in North Korea must be like where someone’s ego is so large they are making a huge production TV show all for one person’s amusement.
Can some explain the door gag to me. He’s having a party, when the doorbell rings, you just open the door. Later on his assistant opens the door like anyone in the world would during a party. I get that it’s supposed to be funny having someone push the door while he rides on it. But they did that gag twice prior… Why did they need to keep it up.
I’m 100% convinced it would be a better show with Karl on his knees like Dorf and redo all the episodes with Karl playing Warwick.
As we reach the mid point of the season Life’s Too Short is still producing solid laughs but sometimes the episodes feel like a series of disjointed scenes rather than a cohesive narrative.
The episode begins with Warwick going house hunting with his assistant Cheryl. The scene culminates in its funniest moment, Warwick once again in a toilet. This entire part is eerily reminiscent of the scene in Extras where Andy Milman attempts to impress a newspaper writer by having Maggie pretend to be his assistant… In fact the similarity goes even further than just the idea behind the sketch (Warwick tries and fails to get his rather slow assistant to make him look good just as Milman tried and failed to get Maggie to make him appear important) with the Estate agent being played by Nicola Redmond, the same woman who played the journalist in Extras. Is this a subtle nod from Ricky & Steve that they know they’re rehashing ideas? It’s hard to imagine it’s not. Either way, it’s amusing enough and Warwick continues to shine in his physical comedy.
Speaking of physical comedy the funniest scene of the show is Warwick attempting to get an award down from a tall set of shelves in front of his wife and her new lawyer-boyfriend Ian (who is also representing her in their divorce). In a prolonged sequence Warwick steals the show as he labours between shelves, knocking CDs and books down in hilarious manner. Eventually Ian (played by the brilliant Matthew Holness who played the computer nerd in The Office) has to get it down for Warwick much to his annoyance. The scene solidifies Davis’s “small man syndrome” as he insists Ian places the award on the second shelf (“where it should have been”) and let Davis take it from there.
The celebrity cameo this week falls a little flat. Steve Carrell through video feed in Gervais’s Office overhears Ricky slagging him off after he thinks the call has ended. The reason, I believe, that this scene doesn’t work too well is that the reasons for Warwick to keep coming back to their office and more and more contrived. As funny as some of these guest appearances are on their own I think the show as a whole would have been much stronger if Gervais & Merchant had resisted the urge to appear in the show at all. Ultimately it feels a little too “meta” and because we know they’ve written it, perhaps self-indulgent as well.
With that said the show concludes with another terrific and classically embarrassing piece of Gervais/Merchant writing. Warwick, in a last ditch attempt to get elected as the chairman of the “Society for People of Short Stature” brings in the brothers from the band Right Said Fred who are best known for some hits in the early nineties. Warwick seems to feel that simply showing he can command this kind of star-power is reason enough to elect him. When somebody in the audience asks if they’re going to sing they refuse. Cue awkward silences, Warwick embarrassed again and the credits roll. I loved it.
External Reviews will be posted here as I find them.
Apologies for the late post but here are some of my thoughts about episode three of Life’s Too Short:
The episode introduced Warwick’s dwarf clients who were angry that he was stealing all the best roles for himself. The episode opened with Davis recording material for his new website (warwickdavis.org.uk “warwickdavis.com was already taken”), beginning with a “showbiz anecdote” about the time Warwick saw Mark Hamill’s “bulge” when he was stripped down to his pants. The material with the other dwarves was a little hit & miss… the scene where Warwick has to come and collect one of his clients from the police station is hilarious but the extended scene where they perform scenes for their portfolios against a green screen feels a little broad and over the top and the opening sequence where one of Warwick’s clients is being used as a bowling ball for pub louts steps very close to the line of “laughing at them” rather than any kind of meta-critique.
Warwick weasling his way into an interview for The society for people of short stature was extremely reminiscent of David Brent jockying for attention in episode 4 of The Office, Training Day. It was also very funny indeed. Again, while Davis arriving at the meeting on a Segway felt like we’d seen it before it still raised a chuckle… perhaps because we’ve never seen this done with a dwarf. Despite the laugh I hope going forward we see less of this and more of the original humour Gervais and Merchant have pioneered in the past…
… Like Warwick Davis confronting the Internet Troll at his school only to find out he has muscular dystrophy. This sequence would have been hilarious and risky regardless of whether it was Warwick or anybody else playing the scene. It was genuinely fantastic.
This week’s celebrity turn was from Helena Bonham Carter and again it ticked all the right boxes. Funny, original and in this instance made great use of Warwick’s stature for the comedy, having him put literally into a rubbish bin. His attempts to get out after everyone breaks for lunch are brilliant examples of physical comedy, although the slip on the banana peel at the end was unconvincing it was easily forgiven.
The Independent are very unfavourable not only declaring the work “shoddily derivative” but also calling into question the writing, saying about the sequence where Paul drunkenly falls off his children’s bike and is unable to get himself off his back: “That’s physical humour, not a send-up of our response to it; that’s laughing at him for his body shape, and that’s a shame.”
The Metro is again unfavourable. Are we beginning to see a strong anti-Gervais backlash because the quality of the show is lower than expected or has this simply been coming for a while and everybody is jumping on the bandwagon? Personally although I don’t think the show has, so far, matched the heights of Extras or The Office that is not saying too much: Almost nothing can match those shows. If we compare this show to the other comedies on TV it’s probably the thing I’m most looking forward to each week!
If you’ve found any other reviews good or bad post them in the comments and I’ll add them to this list.
In my view Episode 2 of Life’s Too Short was a big improvement on the first. All the material with Warwick at the Sci-Fi convention was fantastic, the argument with the woman about her son who had a tumor was particularly classic Gervais & Merchant writing. The exchange with his assistant where they brainstorm ideas to make money (“You could be a chimney sweep”) is also hilarious with her suggestion that he could be used as bait to catch paedophiles particularly amusing.
Later in the episode we got a cameo appearance from a Mr. Johnny Depp. Although very funny there were bits of Depp’s storyline which felt a bit self-indulgent. In particular the references to Gervais’s Golden Globes jokes which got a lot of publicity at the time for being pretty insulting to some of the Hollywood A-listers present at the event. The trouble with all this self-referential comedy is that his jokes really weren’t all that offensive (something he says himself) and the whole controversy felt pretty forced. For him to then write a whole part about Depp being very offended then feels a bit much. Like Gervais thinks he’s as important as the media makes him out to be. With all that said it was funny so I have no big complaints.
The funniest part was left for last however with Gervais & Merchant going back to their The Office roots with a fantastically embarrassing sequence where Warwick makes an uninvited speech at a wedding he has been hired to dress up as an Ewok at (he doesn’t have an Ewok costume so has to dress as a bear). If you were the kind of person who had to watch The Office from behind the Sofa while cringing then this scene will have you reliving all those traumatic memories as you’re left aghast at Davis’s brilliant portrayal of an ego-maniac who just happens to be a dwarf!
What’s still not working for me is the constant looks to the Camera, especially from Gervais in the Johnny Depp scenes. The looks worked in The Office because Brent was showing off for the camera but Gervais is here playing himself so he is playing the man who actually wrote that brilliant sitcom. Because of that it feels very unnatural to see him look at the camera whenever one of the celebrities (Neeson, Depp, Warwick) does something weird. You’re playing yourself, we know you wrote all this, so forget the camera and look to Steve or Warwick in bewilderment and the scenes would work even better in my opinion!
That criticism aside I was very happy to see the show improve as it got into its stride this episode. I have lots of hope for the rest of the series!
Some External Reviews:
The Metro (who have no credibility in my eyes after repeatedly reviewing An Idiot Abroad negatively) were not too imrpessed saying ”Life’s Too Short couldn’t even be saved by Johnny Depp”.
The Huffington Post is mostly positive but shares some of my sentiments on the contrived tone of the Gervais / Depp exchange. Especially as Gervais has just agreed to host the awards for a third time.
If you’d like to suggest a review to add here please post it in the comments below. Thanks
The BBC have released a couple of preview clips ahead of next Thursday’s episode of Life’s Too Short. The first is a clip from the episode (which centres around Warwick Davis attending a sci-fi convention) and the second is a short behind the scenes video:
Thanks to the great people at PilkipediaTV we have, in record fast time, the Liam Neeson scene from the first episode of Life’s Too Short. The consensus is already forming on the opening episode of the show and it’s saying that this scene was the highlight of week one–I am in agreement!
Update: The BBC have released some out takes from the filming of this hilarious scene:
So, the first episode of Life’s Too Short has just finished airing on BBC2. Stay tuned for my review as well as links to appraisals from other sites and other relevant links and discussion. Feel free to comment below on what you made of episode one. A few quick thoughts:
Steve Brody (as Warwick’s Taxman) has now appeared in The Office, Extras and Life’s Too Short. Felt like his character was a little bit of a rehash of Darren Lamb from Extras but will give the benefit of the doubt and see how he develops in future episodes.
Felt like Warwick was channeling Ricky Gervais in The Office a lot during the half hour. Some of the looks to camera and some much of the dialogue felt like it was coming straight out of David Brent’s body. Warwick acted great though and it’s hard to put the fault at his feet when Gervais & Merchant are writing it.
The Liam Neeson improv scene was the highlight of the episode. Absolutely hilarious. The idea of Spielberg hiring him for Schindler’s List because Neeson is very good at writing lists was inspired. All of it was gold.
Smeg from This is England showing up as Warwick’s assistant was a nice touch (although we’ve reported here earlier that she would be in the show) and a great piece of casting.
Sean “Barry From Eastenders” Williamson’s small appearance was very well done and, oddly, felt like the most natural celebrity appearance in the show.
Warwick caught in the dog-flap after the credits was a brilliant bonus for those who didn’t switch off the TV too soon.
More to come…
The Telegraph Awards the premier 3/5 reminding everybody that “[Gervais and Merchant] have earned the right for us to see how Life’s Too Shortplays out.”