by David Dougan
Episode 5 of Life’s Too Short was the best of the series so far. With no Gervais or celebrity cameos, it allowed Warwick Davis to carry the show himself, and he showed himself capable of doing it. If that episode was a peak, episode 6 is certainly a trough. The episode is an ugly mess, with utterly redundant cameos, and repeats of themes from Extras. Les Dennis, Keith Chegwin and Barry off Eastenders appear for no reason at all, other to have an entirely unfunny conversation about how they’d kill themselves, or be sick in the background at a party gone wrong. I know they have nothing better to do, but surely Ricky Gervais does?
Gervais and Merchant are back too, as Warwick attempts to get them to attend a flat-warming party he’s hosting. What we get is a variation on the old ‘Whatever day it is, I can’t go’ gag, as Gervais claims he visits Great Ormond Street Hospital on Saturday nights. When he tries to get Merchant to attend, we’re ‘treated’ to another tired routine, Ricky thinking Steve is a bit funny looking. It’s something that listeners to their old XFM shows, and series of podcasts, will be well familiar with.
Anyway, after failing to attract any of the Harry Potter cast (He calls Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, who decline, but he tells Rupert Grint that there is no party), he turns to a rent-a-star agency, and hires Cat Deeley. Deeley has little to do when she arrives at the party. She doesn’t want to talk about Ant and Dec, or I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and finds herself in the middle of a rumour (started by Warwick) that she and Davis are dating.
This scenario gives the show it’s one real highlight, Sue’s solicitor, Ian. Played by Matthew Holness (better known as Garth Marenghi), he’s dating Sue and goes out of his way to annoy and embarrass Warwick. Earlier in the episode, as Sue and Warwick meet to discuss their divorce, Ian slides a first draft of a divorce agreement just out of Warwick’s reach, an little act that eventually leads to Warwick and his accountant (acting as a solicitor) falling out and eventually fighting on the floor. At the party, Ian goes out of his way to rile Warwick, without raising his voice or being overly demonstrative. He claims not to have a television so doesn’t recognise Deeley, and sticks Warwick right in it, when he tells Amy (Warwick’s date in episode 5) that he’s been told Warwick and Deeley are dating, then loudly asks Deeley about the same rumour.
It’s a subtle performance by Holness, but his increasingly hostile relationship with Warwick is something that doesn’t get enough air-time, due to Gervais and Merchant’s insistence on cramming pointless cameos and themselves into the show. There’s literally no point whatsoever in the trio of Dennis, Chegwin and Williamson being at Warwick’s party. How do they know each other? Why would he invite them? On Twitter this week, Gervais claimed to have ideas for a second series of Life’s Too Short. It’s a pity he didn’t have any new ones for this series. The Office and Extras are genuinely classic sitcoms, but Gervais should have moved on with his career. Cemetery Junction was a well-received drama, and An Idiot Abroad was an entertaining travelogue, making Karl Pilkington a TV star. I still believe that Warwick Davis gives a decent performance in Life’s Too Short, but the sooner it’s over with, the better.