If I’d encountered BBC Two’s new comedy Life’s Too Short, without knowing anything about it, without knowing who Ricky Gervais or Stephen Merchant are or being familiar with their style of comedy – would I have enjoyed this sitcom?

That’s the question I’m asking myself following the first episode broadcast yesterday night.

Unsurprisingly, this new comedy is mash-up of Gervais and Merchant’s other work, from The Office’s fake documentary style, complete with sideways glances to camera, to the celebrity cameos and showbiz agent premise which have both come directly from the pages of Extras.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, Extras and the Office are both classic and well-loved comedies, however you can’t help but feel that writing and shooting Life’s Too Short can’t have been much of a stretch for either Gervais or Merchant.

Warwick Davis himself is better than I expected, although the character he plays is almost a (smaller) facsimile of David Brent. Luckily, David Brent is one of funniest – and cringiest – characters to ever have appeared on television.

I have heard a lot lately about this comedy having the potential to cause offence but the fact Davis is a dwarf is almost irrelevant. Yes there are a few jokes about him not reaching the doorbell and having his kitchen lowered, but so far this isn’t the most important part of Davis‘ character’s personality – far more interesting is his self-delusion and desperation. As we watch him try to pretend his marriage is still rock-solid or his career is still hopeful, it really doesn’t matter how tall he isn’t.

In summary, although this show didn’t feel new or original, it was enjoyable overall. There were two or three genuinely funny moments – including an excellent cameo from Liam Neeson who visits Gervais and Merchant to do some comedy improvisation, although again this felt like it was a forgotten scene from Extras.

(As a sidepoint – it’s interesting that a scene which is designed to make us laugh at Neeson for being terrible at comedy, shows him to actually have excellent comedic skills – sample quote: “Maybe Steven Spielberg chose me because I love lists… he said I’d be perfect for Schindler’s List“)

I’m not sure where this show will go – after all, there are only so many times you can laugh at a dwarf falling out of a 4×4 but I’ll be interested to find out.

I give this TV show 3 out of 5 – let me know what you thought…

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7 responses »

  1. girlsinformme says:

    Nice review! Very much in agreement!

  2. Luka says:

    I’m looking forward to watching part two tonight, I disagree with a 3.5 score maybe you’re a bit numb to humour? Anyway, well done guys you’ve delivered yet again & It’s sooo good to have you back! Comedy Genius … Absolutely! I give this show a well deserved 5 out of 5 That’s what I think ….. :o)

  3. chris jones says:

    This show is spectacularly bad. The problem isnt that it may or may not offend people,the problem is it isnt funny. Cringingly bad for all the wrong reasons. Gervais’s bullying disguised as irony is obvious for all to see. The whole celebrity guests appearing is just old and lame. Big fail

  4. Antoine says:

    I have seen all three episodes to date ,all of them have master touches of comic genius. Warwick Davis plays it beautifully and the cameo’s are hilarious. A great big send up of big people in little people guise.

  5. Ludwig says:

    This review is balanced between acknowledging Gervais and Merchant’s ‘past’ prowess and the disappointment felt that this show falls short of the expectations they leave us with. Warwick is likeable and is complicit in the amusement of his diminutive stature, but I can’t help but feel Gervais is having a few of his annoying guffawing laughs at Warwick’s expense, rather than this being a piece of ironic genius. After all, who is most to blame for the sad appearance of this little guy sticking out of a toilet??

    I am a particular fan of Merchant’s style, but having recently seen him in stand-up I think he his far better placed (and funnier) sending up his own personal vertical challenges at the opposite end of the spectrum! The writers usually go for the ‘classic’ two series stretch for their sitcoms but unfortunately I had to bring my own curtain down on this series after two shows.

    What a shame that our highly regarded writer performers have run out of fresh ideas and are having to peddle the kind of inflammatory trash Gervais uses in his solo performances to their wider audience (which may be shrinking after this.) People who choose to pay to see Gervais will get what they deserve (and maybe want), however I do not expect to hear the ‘c’ word nor lines about cancer and women who can’t conceive on a BBC show. Oh for the warmth of Extras once more…

    • socoolyeah says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – both The Office and Extras had a seam of warmth running through the sarcastic humour. It’s a shame it is missing this time.

  6. I’m a Ricky Gervais fan (or at least I was a big one) and I am very unimpressed with LTS to say the least. Recycled characters and format, the whole show has been done before but better. Warwick = Brent The accountant = Darren Lamb. Even the dumb assistant of Warwick’s you can argue is the ‘Maggie’ like character.

    You can hear Gervais’ voice through every single character, it feels so horribly scripted and lacks the realism The Office had which was a show that felt like it was improvised a lot of the time because of how well it was made. Davis’ sub par acting also doesn’t help the show feeling like a documentary as well.

    Gervais and Merchant have tried too hard to make the show feel like there is a healthy combination of story with humility as well as simply laughing at Warwick’s expense.

    Fortunately it’s not going to have a long future as there is nowhere for the series to go, I’d be quite surprised if they bother to make a second series of it. They would have run out of celebrities to use anyhow.

    A shame Gervais is mainly seen tirelessly and quite feebly defending his work instead of taking a back seat and letting the show speak for itself. That’s saying something about the overall quality of the sitcom.

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