It barely feels like Derek has been on our screens and he is already bidding us adieu. A story chronicling the life of a simple man living and working in an old folk’s home doesn’t scream great TV show, but with the mighty weight of Ricky Gervais behind it you always felt it was going to be worth watching.
Sadly the problem was that even before seeing the first episode the media in the UK (which is shit if you didn’t know and enjoys sensationalising nothing) had decided that this show was insulting to people with special needs and attempted to bury it before it had even started. With such negative press, Derek was always going to be under pressure to deliver and I think that the first series laid down a pretty good foundation for the show to build on. Sadly the second series suffered from the loss of Karl Pilkington, which combined with (in my opinion) Gervais trying to prove the British media wrong by making the show way too overly preachy and sympathetic causing Derek to lose any comedy it once had.
When I heard that this was the last episode of Derek I was pleased because quite frankly the show hadn’t achieved its potential and clearly with the departure of Pilkington was never going to. The finale itself was nothing special, I’m not sure I even chuckled throughout and that is a bad thing for a supposed comedy series.
There are going to be spoilers in here from now on, so don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens.
The majority of the finale was centred on Kev being thrown out of the home and ending up in hospital because he is suffering from alcohol poisoning. The problem with Kev is that he isn’t a good character and never has been. Why is he even in the home? He doesn’t work there, he doesn’t help out like Derek, and he just sits about gets shitfaced and is a fucking dick to everyone. Do I care if Kev dies? No I don’t, why would I? It’s almost as if Gervais thought this would be a funny character despite the fact it makes no sense and hence shoehorned him into the show. Gervais has done nothing to make this character likable and him revealing that he’s actually a virgin doesn’t change that. Kev giving up the alcohol for Derek makes little to no sense and it would have been so much more effective if he had killed him off or at least had him let Derek down, rather than seeing the two of them run off into the sunset together.
The other characters storylines were pretty shoddy as well, with everyone getting to live happily ever after. For some odd reason the old folks who live in the home didn’t really feature at all, basically being used as props. It is frustrating to watch a show and see the writers make character decisions which make no sense at all just to suit where they want the narrative to go.
Derek was never a great comedy, but at least it used to be a comedy, at the end it had become a drama which occasionally tried to be funny but too often was overly preachy and relied too heavily on sentimentality. I keep seeing TV shows try to preach to me about how I should live my life and I can’t help but think to myself that I don’t really need Gervais coming on my screen telling me that old people are lonely, old folks homes are depressing and you should be nice to people.
Gervais is currently suffering from ‘Definitely Maybe’ syndrome, where he produces an all-time classic but has been unable to follow it up with anything which comes close. Yes Extras was pretty good but Life’s Too Short was a total miss and Derek wasn’t much better. I see that Gervais received a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for his role in Derek, which dumbfounds me. I can only assume that he received this because he is Ricky Gervais because it really isn’t for the quality of his performance.
Anyway I’m glad to see Derek has finished because I don’t think it had anywhere left to go and it had naturally come to its end. I really wanted to like Derek because I am a Gervais fan but sadly it was never that good, and when it was good it usually involved Karl Pilkington and after he left, the show rapidly declined in quality and the other characters were not strong enough to fill the massive hole which was left.
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