In 2007, Ricky Gervais won an Emmy for his performance as Andy Millman in Extras. He wasn’t there to collect it, so presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gave it to their friend Steve Carell, star of the US remake of The Office. The following year, Gervais did attend the Emmys, and before presenting an award, he mocked Carell before reclaiming his award (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZp6cR4bxbY). The faux rivalry between the two has continued since, and Gervais made reference to it again while hosting this year’s Golden Globes, after Carell had left The Office. To bring things right up to date, Steve Carell cameos in episode 5 of Life’s Too Short.
In what is becoming an increasingly pointless and forced part of the show, Warwick Davis turns up in Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s office to ask them about a possible affair between his soon to be ex-wife and her lawyer. Gervais and Merchant have no interest, but coincidentally, have a Skype meeting with Steve Carell arranged when Warwick arrives. In the meeting, Gervais tries to persuade Carell to make occasional guest appearances in The Office, as it will guarantee two more seasons of the show. After arranging to have dinner in LA, Gervais hangs up. Or so he thinks. After complaining about Carell’s attitude to Merchant, he realises he hasn’t hung up, and Carell has heard everything. The same thing then happens again, leaving their friendship seemingly over.
It is a predictable and wholly unnecessary scene in a show Gervais just can’t seem to stay out of. When Life’s Too Short is just about Warwick Davis, it is very funny. Davis is thriving in the role, his comic timing impeccable, and it’s clear that he could carry the show on his own if he was allowed to.
After the first episode of the series drew around 5 million viewers, ratings have dropped dramatically, with around 1.25million watching episode four. Gervais has taken to Twitter to denounce the ‘haters’ of the show (bear in mind that this is a 50 year old man talking about ‘haters’), and seems unable to accept that it’s possible that something’s not right with his new show.
Again, when Warwick is left alone to live his life, the show can be very funny. This week he attempts to usurp the chairman of The Society For People Of Short Stature by calling for an election, and tries to sway the voters by bringing Right Said Fred to the meeting. It’s another cameo, but one that is in keeping with Warwick’s attempts to live a celebrity lifestyle, showing where he really is in his career, rather than where he imagines himself to be.
Divorce proceedings with his wife Sue (Jo Enright) continue, with Warwick’s accountant acting as his lawyer, with Matthew Holness (aka Garth Marenghi) as Ian. After a meeting between the four, Warwick visits his house and finds Ian there, wearing slippers. While there, he attempts to take an award from a high shelf, and this provides the highlight of the show. In a wonderful display of physical comedy, Warwick awkwardly attempts to climb the shelves to reach the award himself, as Sue and Ian look on.
It really showcases Davis’ talent, and he should be allowed to take all the limelight himself. His character is strong enough to build the show around him, and forced celebrity cameos and the overbearing presence of Gervais are really hurting it. I’m sure viewers can expect more of the same in the final three episodes, but the show’s failure to play to its strengths makes it increasingly more likely that episode 7 will be the end of the show altogether.