Ricky Gervais has done well for himself with the UK version of 'The Office', ‘Extras’, 'An Idiot Abroad' and some modest success with American movies.
Something different is a series straight from his mind called 'Derek.'
Derek (Gervais) is a middle-aged worker at Broadhill retirement community with an almost child-like personality/mentality. He pines for Hannah (Kerry Godliman), his coworker. Also at the home is Dougie (Karl Pilkington), the extremely put-upon caretaker. Kev (David Earl) is an unemployed man that hangs around with the guys.
The series centers on the workers at Broadhill as they navigate the challenges of meeting the demands/needs of the residents while trying to live their lives in between.
Derek seems to be split evenly between being a drama and a comedy which is rare. While it can appeal to both and to fans of Gervais' work, there is also the danger that it hasn't committed enough to either genre. It veers wildly from crude comedy to maudlin drama. Some of the sad moments within here really do hit the mark while some seem too calculated. Having Derek be the type of character that he is, there is no complexity to him, one must root for him because he is pure goodness.
Stylistically, the approach is very close to being what 'The Office' is in that it is the product of a lot of hand held camera, mugging for said camera and frequent confessionals. While the fondness for this makes sense, given the source, the show doesn't necessarily need it. The funniest moments aren't a result of this.
One of the series' strengths is that sheds some light on the rarely illuminated world of retirement homes. Not only are the residents of these establishments represented (though they are mostly relegated to the background), but the show focuses on the kinds of people who work there. Some are very fulfilled by the job while others feel a little above it.
Special features include: nothing.
As a viewing experience, 'Derek' is a slightly mixed bag, though there is more good than bad. The good-natured tone wins out and it leads one to wonder what comes next for the denizens of Broadhill.
Not Rated 130 minutes (approx) 2013