Ricky Gervais has never, ever written a bad script.
And although he is pigeonholed as a comedian, writing comedy-drama he is far more than this.
He is an observer of the deepest human emotions and psyche. How else could David Brent exist? How else could Derek be considered even remotely acceptable to be the star of a comedy, let alone have Gervais portray the part he had written, rather than cast an actor with learning difficulties?
In this latest offering, brought to us by Netflix, Gervais has reached a creative zenith. In episode four there is a moment with a rice pudding that is the funniest thing I have ever seen on TV. In episode 6, I wept for 15 minutes solidly.
It’s the story of a local free newspaper journalist who works to live, it’s not a career, it’s a job to fill the time between leaving his home, and his beloved wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman – Godly talent more like), and returning to spend each and every night with her.
The trouble is she’s just died of cancer and Tony (Gervais) can’t cope. Only the dog is keeping him alive and it brings his dark cynicism and sarcasm to the fore. It gives him a super-power. The power to be a total **** to everyone and anyone. Sometimes to bad people who deserve it, like the school bully, but at other times to borderline cases (like a cheeky chugger).
His dad has Alzheimers and doesn’t recognise him.
His therapist is a moron.
His colleagues, led by the truly outstanding Tony Way as ‘photographer’ Lenny, are all ‘arseholes’. Except they aren’t. They’re just ordinary people.
He gradually falls for the nurse who works in his dad’s care home and that has a touch of joy about it.
But more than anything this show just shows that people are largely good. Even the bad ones like Tony’s naughty postman.
The moments in the graveyard with a grieving widow, played by the magnificent Penelope Wilton, are pure philosophy.
And we have Diane Morgan (Philomena Cunk).
And during the cremation of a junkie that results in Tony standing in the smoke with a nun, it means he has to say to her, “Don’t breathe that in sister, you’ll be off your tits.”
We watched all six episodes back to back and I urge you to do the same.
Better than any TV I have seen in an awful, awful long time.
Thank you Netflix for having the bravery to commission this.
(Oh, and the soundtrack is brilliant too.)
(And so is the dog.)