Mar 8, 2012


Life’s Too Short for… Bias. Ricky Gervais has finally worn me down. Long have I avoided the talk of Gervais’ genius despite his continued success in television (sorry Ghost Town), because the formula is the same: Wry humor, lead with a warped sense of importance and some wacky side characters. So if you have seen The Office or Extras, then you have seen Life’s Too Short. But maybe you haven’t.

Warwick Davis, height 3’ 6”, who has appeared in films such as Return of the Jedi and Willow, plays a version of himself in Ricky Gervais and HBO’s new mockumentary series. Davis is a dwarf actor who also runs a talent agency for other dwarfs. The Gervais humor is there; I can see the formula like Good Will Hunting sees calculus equations, but for some reason this derivation totally works on me.

Another ingredient in the formula is a cameo, usually by well-known actors doing things they normally do not. In the pilot, we get Liam Neeson seeking advice from Gervais and Stephen Merchant about establishing a comedy career. Then it gets uncomfortable, and somehow Gervais makes AIDS funny.

I am looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in upcoming episodes. One thing that will require some work is the supporting cast. Not every character needs to be taken to the nth degree. If Davis is going to keep visiting his blundering accountant and talking with his monotone secretary then make them more than caricatures. I keep looking to see if Gervais’ hand is sticking out from behind cause I swear he is improvising their lines for them as the scene happens.

At first I resisted this show because of the obvious fear of exploitation. You know, of Ricky Gervais’ alleged hatred of dwarves. But when Davis compared the plight of dwarves and black people with weaned understanding citing that, of course, dwarves were never enslaved, but black people were never shot out of a cannon either, I was sold. Our hero is oblivious, he stereotypes, and he says the wrong thing most of the time. Davis does a wonderful job of tearing down himself along with my false empathy for his condition.