New Flix: Derek

A common quality among most human beings is the need to be understood and supported. Idiosyncrasies can make some difficult to cheer on, especially when they’re egotistical pricks. But no matter how disgusting they may truly be, some are lucky enough to have a friend or family member who will cheer them on and see only the good.

This is the case in the new Netflix show Derek. Written, directed and starring comedian Ricky Gervais, we find a man who sees nothing but the very best in his friends – a motley crew of miscreants and malcontents who work as helpers at a nursing home.  Shot in a mockumentary style where characters frequently break the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, the title character is based on Gervais’ 2001 standup comedy act “Rubbernecker.”

But this isn’t really a new show. Derek first premiered on British television in 2012. In January 2013, a full season of Derek premiered on British television.  Those episodes were then aired on Netflix almost immediately following its television hiatus.  The final episode of the second season of Derek aired on BBC Channel 4 on March 28 and the first episode of the second season will be available for viewing on Netflix beginning Friday, March 30.

Also starring Karl Pilkington, Kerry Godliman, David Earl, Holli Dempsey, Brett Goldstein and Doc Brown; Derek’s immediate outward appearance, in conjunction with the wild and downright inappropriate behavior of some of the show’s characters, may lead the viewer to believe it is an irreverent comedy. But there are quite a bit of tragic moments contained in the half-hour show. As the new season premieres, a year has passed and Derek is adjusting to the loss of his friend, an elderly Parkinson’s patient. A twist turns when his estranged father shows up at the senior care facility. 

Insisting his character isn’t handicapped, Gervais shows flexibility playing Derek, mixing humorous moments while also playing it straight. Although Derek doesn’t garner any knee-slapping laughs by relying too much on shock humor and foul-mouthed senior citizens, it’s a different, daring offering nonetheless. 

The Shadow League gives Derek a C+

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