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.