Ricky Gervais: The Rise and Fall?

January has been a busy month for Ricky Gervais. First news emerged that Gervais will be playing the lead in the next Muppet’s movie. Then Channel 4 announce they will be airing the first episode of his new television series ‘Derek’ on the 30th. Normally, this would be great news, but, am I the only one who’s finding Gervais has become a little bit…stale?

There aren’t too many people in show business quite like Ricky Gervais. A British actor, writer and stand-up comedian, has enjoyed unparalleled worldwide fame these last ten years. And he’s about as divisive as they come.

People either worship his comedic genius or loathe his blatant arrogance.

First let me explain where I’m coming from. On the surface,  I consider myself a massive Ricky Gervais fan. I consider both series of The Office brilliant pieces of television and I’m still a regular listener to the old school XFM radio shows.

Though the more I think about it, the more I realise I’m not half the fan I used to be. After The Office and Extras, my Gervais tinted glasses were firmly in place. Everything he did – podcasts & YouTube clips – I considered stupidly hilarious, and if you didn’t, well – I would definitely think you were weird and begin to prod you with a sharp stick.

Roll on a year or two and the glittering lights of Hollywood beckoned. Then came Ghost Town & The Invention of Lying. And whilst Ghost Town was fairly solid movie, The Invention of Lying – despite one or two funny moments – was pretty dire. I found this surprising, considering The Invention of Lying is the movie Gervais had more creative control over.

After reading pretty dismal reviews of the latter, I began to question: was Gervais turning out not to be the comedic genius I thought him to be? Surely not.

His stand up DVD’s were always of a high standard, it’s just a shame he couldn’t translate their success (and that of earlier TV shows) into a Hollywood movie.

All that’s needed is a Gervais to return to something a bit closer to home. Creating a TV series from our own murky shores should do the trick.

Bring on ‘Life’s Too Short’ starring Warwick Davies, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, playing fictionalised versions of themselves. A television series that would be strong on observational comedy, something of a forte for Gervais.

It’s quite difficult to encapsulate into words the utter disappointment I had with Life’s Too Short. Apart from one magnificent sketch with Liam Neeson in the first episode, the rest of series sees Warwick Davies trying terribly hard to act like David Brent.

All of this now leaves me in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to deciding how I feel about the up and coming television show Derek. A part of wants to believe this will be something of a return to form for Gervais. He’s said himself the that the values and themes of the show will be more akin to The Office; I’ve watched the pilot and was pleasantly impressed (though I believe the main role should have gone to another actor with Gervais focusing solely on directing duties).

Then there’s a part of myself which struggles to even get excited. Which surprises me no end considering how much of a follower of his I used to be.

Are you looking forward to the new Muppet’s movie or TV series Derek?

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