Ricky Gervais was back tonight with an ensemble of well known friends and fresh new faces for this one off Channel 4 comedy about a residential home employee. ’Derek’ gave a lighthearted and frankly solemn insight in to another one of Gervais’ comedy characters. Attempting to make us laugh, cry and sypathise all in a half hour slot was always going to be a challenge, even for the mastermind that brought us some of the best comedy Britain has produced in the last decade, including ‘The Office’ and ‘An Idiot Abroad’.
The show started with Derek giving a brief introduction to his job, his friends and ultimately his whole life from what I could gather. His job involves holding the old residents hands while they sleep and cutting the toe nails of the one’s who are now too fragile to complete this task themselves. His friends include Douglas (Karl Pilkington), who is the caretaker at the home, and also quite a pessimistic, down in the dumps character, and the manager of the home, Hannah (Kerry Godliman), who Derek also harbours a flame for, an innocent, childish flame, yet still a flame.
Gervais manages to capture his character well, with an immature, yet innocent view to all things including the garden. He also manages to capture the mood and atmosphere of a residential home, or at least how I immagine it to feel! Solomn music is only interuppted by Eminem in a pub and headbutt combo scene, and the awkward silences Gervais has become famed for were a little too evident for my liking. There were a fair few similarities between this and previous Gervais pieces, including the pieces to camera from the main characters and the use of third party props, such as the classic use of a funny youtube clip being made a lot funnier by Derek’s reaction while watching it.
Overall I think this was a comical view on what the majority of people would think of as a dull setting, which was the same ploy used to greater effect in ‘The Office’. Although not all the critics have agreed with the principle of this Channel 4 comedy, they cannot deny it was executed with a subtle edge and there was a true sympathy felt during certain points of the programme. For me this wasn’t Gervais’ finest work, but it also wasn’t his worst by any stretch of the imagination. A show well worth watching in the end and hopefully we will see more from #derek in the future!
This article was first posted on April 12, 2012