The latest sitcom from writer/director team Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant sees Warwick Davis playing ‘himself’ as the head of a small-person talent agency. Right from the beginning of the first episode it’s hard not to see Warwick as a smaller incarnation of David Brent. It is, essentially, exactly the same character but rather than being a self-unaware boss it’s a self-unaware dwarf actor.
The first episode sees Warwick setting the stall out and the various returning characters being introduced.
The star has a female assistant who is a bit dipsy and is always putting her foot in it and getting them both into awkward social situations, there’s also an accountant who is utterly useless and inexplicably still hired, Barry from Eastenders pottering about and lots of celebrity appearances from people such as Johnny Depp.
Oh no, whoops! I’ve just described ‘Extras’ accidentally there! How embarrassing! Seriously, though, read back that previous sentence and see if you can pick out something that doesn’t fit both programmes. Perhaps swap accountant for manager and that’s it.
There are some funny moments occasionally, but four episodes in I realised how unengaged I was as I tidied up the lounge and checked things on the computer while the episode was running. I found myself mentally switching-off mid-sentence at times and it was only at the very end of the episode when Les Dennis appeared and I laughed that I realised I hadn’t laughed once in the previous 30 minutes.
There is nothing new here and it feels horribly like Gervais and Merchant are treading water. They are both deeply funny people (Stephen Merchant’s recent stand-up tour was very good) and its worth remembering that their audiobooks, tv shows and feature length film have entertained me greatly over the years.
But this…………lazy. I don’t think it’s for me and I don’t think I’ll watch the remaining 3 or 4 episodes – life’s too short.
2 on 5
Written and Drirected by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Starring: Warwick Davis
UK release: BBC Two, 10th November 2011