'Derek' is just terrible.

Ricky Gervais needs to be careful, for he is rapidly becoming to UK sitcoms what M. Knight Shyamalamalamalamalamalamalan has come to represent in movies. He seems to be on a downward trajectory, just like the mystical Sixth Sense director. 'The Office' was superb, 'Extras' OK, and 'Life is Too Short' merely 'meh', but all have been surpassed in utter awfulness by the complete mess which is 'Derek'. It really is absolutely the worst thing I have seen in ages. It is that disgustingly bad, that I compel all of you to watch it, for you will not believe how truly bad (and very odd) it is.

I am going to try to explain exactly what is wrong with it, but I'm really struggling with where to start, as it is just so very bad in almost every respect. I guess I'll start with the cast. Gervais plays the eponymous lead, and his performance is unsettling to say the least. It is never explained exactly what is wrong with the character, so I'll surmise my own impression: Gervais seems to have watched Rain Man while on Acid because he is definitely channelling some alternate-universe Dustin Hoffman here, a universe in which Hoffman is the worst actor in the world.

You may have seen the second series of Extras, where Gervais' character gets the lead in a terrible sitcom. In the sitcom, Gervais sticks his lower jaw out and walks around like he has been lobotomised - this is exactly how he plays 'Derek'. For this reason, I just couldn't take Derek seriously as a character at all. Also, the pratfalls that Derek sets himself up for are painfully contrived, such as when he leaves his favourite pudding on his chair and than sits on it - oh the hilarity! Or when he falls into a pond, and runs through the house naked, LOL! He event shares a somewhat tenuous grasp of the value of money, again referring back to Dustin Hoffman.

The supporting cast are just as bad. The woman who works in the care home has paper-thin characterisation; we learn that she left school at 16 and has remained at the care home ever since. She is a cliched, typically-downcast little mouse of a woman - she looks like she is about to cry all of the time. Apart from one scene where she inexplicably headbutts a woman who is picking on poor Derek, and for some reason the woman's mates don't stab her to death in retaliation. Nothing about it makes any sense. Karl Pilkington plays - well - himself really, although in this life he is a curmudgeonly caretaker who is permanently depressed. Perhaps his depression stems from having to wear the worst comedy baldy wig of all time; I compel you to watch 'Derek' just so you can see how awful it is for yourself. Whatever you have imagined, will not be as silly as the reality. It doesn't even look stuck on properly.

Thankfully, this episode is just a pilot at the moment, and if anyone has any modicum of sense this will be buried and forgotten about as quickly as Matthew Horne's career. Its execution is so contrived that even the music tries to jar you into some sentimental response. I kept expecting an M-People song to start at any moment; that's how bad it is. At one point an old woman dies, and Gervais rather creepily strokes his own head with her dead hand. It is so very, very terrible, that I actually believe that it is intentional in some way. Here are my top theories as to why Gervais made such a misjudged and unfunny show.

1) If he wants to present the next 'Golden Globes', He is contractually obliged to make something which is at least as bad as Johnny Depp's 'The Tourist', just so he can be teased as well

2) He was forced into playing someone with learning difficulties after his 'mong' comments, so he resentfully made the worst piece of garbage he could conceive of

3) He is an Andy Kauffman-type genius who deliberately set out to make something terrible, and he succeeded beyone his wildest expectations

Anyway, form your own conclusions - I'm sure that it is available somewhere on 4 On Demand to watch, probably on page 60.

1 comment:

  1. i watched 3 mins, very poor. didn't think any of it was funny. :(