So it’s finally over.  Life’s Too Short limped to a depressing end that finished with Warwick Davis sleeping in a drawer.  Why?  Because he’s a dwarf, so he fits!  Funny eh?  No, definitely not.

I enjoyed episode 1 of Life’s Too Short.  There were some good lines, and a very funny, if shoe-horned in, cameo by Liam Neeson.  But the show got repetitive and tedious very quickly.  The cameos became more bizarre and out of place, and there were continuations of long-running gags from the world of Ricky Gervais.  Stephen Merchant is tight with money, Ricky and Steve Carrel have a rivalry, Les Dennis, Keith Chegwin and Barry off Eastenders appeared for no real reason.  Even Keith from The Office turned up.

Life’s Too Short will go down as Ricky Gervais’ first real failure.  Warwick Davis’ character felt like a cross between Andy Millman and David Brent, only he rarely learned lessons from his mistakes, and usually came across as an arrogant bully, rather than a misguided but decent person at heart.  I feel sorry for Davis actually, as his performance throughout the series was generally pretty good, but he was never allowed to be the star of his own show.  His life as a once successful actor, going through a divorce and running a struggling talent agency always felt like background noise, as the show concentrated on getting celebrities to send themselves up, you know, like what they did in Extras.

Episode 5 for me was a highlight, because there was no Gervais or Merchant, and no celebrity cameos.  Just Warwick and his life, but the final two episodes were extraordinarily bad.  Episode 7 begins with another meeting between Warwick and his accountant/solicitor and his wife Sue and her solicitor Ian.  When Ian tells Warwick that Sue gave up her career as a nurse for him, he rants about there being enough nurses to go round, and that Brad Pitt wouldn’t marry a nurse.  The divorce settlement offered to him is not favourable, so he inexplicably visits Ricky and Stephen (who have repeatedly made it clear they want nothing to do with him) to beg for some money.  They can’t give him any, but talk turns to a charity event Sting is hosting, that Ricky has been invited to.  During this exchange, Ricky jokes about Stephen being tight with money, something that has featured heavily in their radio shows and podcasts.

Warwick somehow persuades Ricky to ask Sting if he can go to the event.  Warwick later receives a standard letter from Sting, inviting him to the event, with tickets costing £300.  After writing a cheque, Warwick visits his accountant, who tells him that he needs to cut back on his spending.  He wonders aloud if Warwick would be better off dead, which leads to a discussion about suicide, rather like the one with Chegwin, Dennis and Shaun Williamson in the previous episode.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the charity event doesn’t go well for Warwick.  One reason is that it’s a typical of Gervais and Merchant’s shows that things don’t always go according to plan, another is that almost every episode has ended with a ‘coming soon’ scene during the end credits, which has shown Warwick being thrown out of the event with Sting looking on.

The Office and Extras both ended well for their lead characters.  David Brent got the girl and beat Finchy, and Andy Millman realised who he really was, and left with his friend Maggie.  Life’s Too Short ends with Warwick in a drawer, improbably reconciling with Amy, the girl he has twice humiliated publicly.  It rather sums up the show.  Life’s Too Short has felt like a poorly written mash-up of The Office and Extras, like it was written by someone ripping off Ricky Gervais, rather than by the actual creators of both those shows.  While those shows will long be a staple of clip shows and comedy countdowns, Life’s Too Short will hopefully be quietly put away, perhaps in the bottom of a drawer?

David Dougan

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