So, it finally happened. If you’ve been reading my reviews of Life’s Too Short, you’ll know my biggest gripe with the show is the overbearing presence of Ricky Gervais. Appearing in each of the first four episodes with Stephen Merchant, his scenes seemed shoehorned in, an unnecessary part of the show that should be focussing entirely on its star, Warwick Davis. Thankfully, in episode 5, the show is all about Warwick. There’s no Gervais or Merchant, and no celebrity cameos. And the show is so much better for it.
Davis is more than capable of driving the show on his own, and in this week’s episode, he gets to do just that. As he looks to move on as his divorce comes through, he visits a series of spiritual and religious people looking for answers and a new direction in his life. He first visits a man he calls his ‘psychic housekeeper’, an especially inept psychic called Brian. Although fraudulent psychics are an easy target for comedy, Brian getting angry with Warwick because he doesn’t know anyone called John, Jonathan or even David still brings laughs. Warwick encounters more problems when he visits a catholic priest, and then a scientologist. His opening question to the priest, ‘Are you a paedophile?’ sets an awkward conversation in motion, and his insistence on calling scientology a cult and referring to brainwashing, angers the scientologist he is discussing it with. Ricky Gervais of course made a joke about scientology during his infamous hosting of this year’s Golden Globes, and has made no secret of his atheism.
With his spiritual quest not working out, Warwick instead turns his attention to finding a new woman. After a visit to a club with his accountant goes spectacularly wrong (in a scene similar to one from Extras, when Darren and Barry fail to impress some girls in the David Bowie episode), he turns to the man who set him up with his almost ex-wife, a man named Toby who is running a struggling dating service. He finds someone he likes, and sets up a date, only to be initially horrified when she turns out to also be a dwarf. Again, there are similarities to previous Gervais/Merchant work, this time with David Brent’s blind date disasters in The Office. But the scene is a still a strong one, with the question of whether or not Warwick’s date has a hidden pair of testicles a highlight.
Episode 5 may be the strongest yet of Life’s Too Short’s first series. Warwick has excellent comic timing, and again gets to do some physical comedy, on a second date that doesn’t go quite according to plan. The final two episodes of the show will have more celebrity cameos, including some throwbacks to Extras, and that is something that could again hurt the series overall. But when left to do his own thing, Warwick Davis gives an excellent performance and allows Life’s Too Short to flourish.