HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show presents "Armed Forces" this week. Karl Pilkington talks of wanting to be a soldier when he was little. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant certainly don't see Karl as the right type of guy to handle such a life. Karl defends his position by talking of his older brother, Karl's perfectly made bed, and how he bravely saved a pie once from robbers, who weren't really interested in his pie anyway.
The Ricky Gervais Show is often very, very funny. As many have said before, Karl has a mind that works like no other. To take his tales, musings, and ideas and animate them really brings to life what he's talking about. Not to mention, cartoons are a great medium for the outlandish places his stories go. In this, "Armed Forces" is just like any other episode of the series.
However, HBO's series takes its audio from a podcast of the same name, and so many viewers will have already heard all of the dialogue before watching, albeit on a radio or iPod, without illustration. Even if one has heard the particular podcast being used each week, it does not lessen the enjoyment of The Ricky Gervais Show. But in this, "Armed Forces" is unique, because it comes from a special podcast done solely for service members, and never before released to the public at large.
Because of why "Armed Forces" was recorded in the first place, the topic is kind of already set. Of course Karl is going to speak somehow about soldiers, and his experience with them. This is a group of people who deserve respect, and the central trio are not going to go into territory where they make fun of the men and women serving. Which is probably why "Armed Forces" doesn't get as zany or outrageous as many other episodes of The Ricky Gervais Show. It's still a good episode, but not one of the greats.
At the end of the day, though, the chance to hear some fresh material, when many fans of The Ricky Gervais Show are most often experiencing the spoken words for a second time, makes this week special and worth watching. Also, the spirit of charity behind recording this episode in the first place enhances the respect for it.
Did Ricky Gervais make a mistake by taking this exclusive story and spreading it out for everyone now? No, not really. It was exclusive for a long time, and at this point, the troops probably won't mind sharing the comedy. He did something special for them, yes, but enough time has passed that the public at large can hear it without taking away from the special-ness of it being a present to the troops.
Next week, The Ricky Gervais Show will probably be back to normal. Which means some very, very funny entertainment. Tune in Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. In Lexington, if you subscribe to HBO, it can be found on channel 70 (satellite), 700 (digital cable), and 952 (high definition cable).