Ricky Gervais new show 'Derek'

Ricky Gervais new show 'Derek'

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‘Derek’ - Controversy at its Most Predictable Ricky Gervais is one of Britain’s most famous exports, causing controversy is his second nature, and it is not a surprise that he has created a stir with his latest offering ‘Derek’. But I think that some people are missing the point.

Derek, which aired on channel 4 on the 12th of April took me by surprise a little. A creation by Ricky Gervais about the lives of the residents of a nursing home and their carers, in particular, Derek – portrayed by Gervais himself.

I had been seeing glimpses of news about the Episode (a one off, no further episodes at present) from Twitter, but missed the actual airing and watched on 4OD.

The choice of both Gervais & broadcaster channel 4 to distribute this first episode on its own worries me slightly and I am not sure whether to be inclined to think that this is because I am used to the normal marketing campaign fanfare leading up to a big show premiere. A single episode seems rather trivial on its own.

I greeted Derek with a warm familiarity, even the shuffle of the cameraman and the accoutrement that accompany the familiar mockumentary style of filming.

With this style come all of the comedic devices used in filming techniques that you have come to expect from a mockumentary, especially with the Office being one of the country’s best know contemporary comedies. For example, interviews are dispersed throughout the show that gives us insight into characters motivations.

It was hard to feel that it was anything other than a tried and tested format for Gervais but one that he obviously felt comfortable with and so did the audience. I do not think style of the detracts however as due previous works the audience is familiar with certain cues. It is also the case that these scenes would have been visually marked out in the head of the creator due to their use in previous work.

Character Empathy

The major obstacle that Gervais will have to overcome to win over the nation are the characters. All shortcomings can be forgiven if that what is most important about a comedy show can be achieved, a set of characters the audience genuinely cares about.

It was with some emotional gusto that Gervais set about drawing us in emotionally. Yes, there will, and already has been a backlash from charities and individuals about how Gervais portrays his character. When I first saw the adopted mannerisms I was immediately reminded of a section of Ricky Gervais DVD in which he mocks an autograph hunter as a social outcast. Again, this will be picked up and questioned by the media.

This should not be the case however as I believe that if Derek is to be watched as a standalone programme and at the moment with one episode it certainly is that.

An Alternate Motive?

Concerning still is whether Gervais is still writing the rest of the episodes. In my mind, this could be one of the most conservative decisions that Gervais has ever made. Should a bigger backlash have ensued – there was time to pull out entirely, however my inclination would have been to think that the storyline could be tailored to fit with whatever reaction the pilot got.

Personally I think that the reception has been very good, and this will lead to a larger emotional aspect, maybe even exploring some of the more taboo aspects of mental health and mortality.

For what we know, even reviews have been taken into account as to give the public and critics what they want. A pat on the back for all those who guessed correctly.

It Comes Down to Personal Preference

I genuinely enjoyed the first episode, it by no means is perfect, but then it will never be perfect in the eyes of all people. The struggle lies in whether Gervais bubble of fame forces him to create a compromised vision.

Even hot-headed twitter comments in the spur of the moment are recognition that criticism is taken, as with anyone, fame does not nullify from the feeling of ownership of a project.

I eagerly await the next episodes of the series as will undoubtedly come to see. I will no doubt enjoy them as I always do with Gervais material and in a moment of self indulgence, that is all that matters.

Geoff Shreeves owns Branislav Ivanovic

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