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“Life's Too Short,” like the BBC’s “The Office” and “Extras” before it, is the brainchild of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and it’s a lot like “The Office” and “Extras” – only with 3’6” British actor Warwick Davis in what you’d call the Ricky Gervais role. Nothing I’ve ever seen Davis perform (including his role in “Extras”) even hints at what an adept comic actor he is.
“Short” centers on a vain, vindictive, dim, deluded, boorish and generally unpleasant version of Davis, who in real life played the title roles in “Willow” and “Leprechaun” and has since played a variety of parts in the “Harry Potter” movies.
I like a lot of “Short,” though it’s sometimes sillier than it is funny and on occasion wanders down some paths that don’t yield a lot of laughs.
Like “Extras,” the new series is swimming in celebrity cameos.
There’s a strange first-episode scene with Liam Neeson (playing a loony version of himself) seeking comedy advice from Gervais that builds slowly but proves inspired and hilarious. It also feels like it snuck in from another show.
An extended (and largely improvised?) sequence in episode two with Johnny Depp (playing a loony version of himself) doing research on dwarf behavior quickly grows tedious.
But if you’re reading this you really do owe it to yourself to click on that Neeson clip.
... There's something sour and awful about Ricky Gervais' comedy these days. He used to be a sly, cheeky observer of human behavior, but his current status as a smug, self-absorbed blowhard finds its clearest expression in his new HBO show … Gervais may think he's bold, but at this stage, he's just a bore.
... In this case, I wish [Gervais and Merchant] had stuck to their initial impulse of four years ago and decided not to repeat themselves.
... the real problem here: we’ve seen this before ... the problem with the humor of discomfort, which Gervais pioneered with distinction, is that it doesn’t last long when it becomes a comfort zone. …
... The show’s Warwick is the same inconsiderate jackass but without the prissiness or the lumpen quality that sometimes makes Mr. Gervais’s performances grating. ...
... If Gervais still wants to satirize his chosen field, he needs to figure out another way. ...
... it's a little too familiar. … The show conjures the most laughs when Mr. Gervais is on screen, but his presence doesn't mesh naturally with Warwick's world. …
… almost everything about “Life’s Too Short” somehow echoes pieces of all of Gervais’s previous TV work, which makes this show seem particularly limp. … Like “Extras,” the show leans too heavily on celebrity cameos, where even the funniest lines barely encourage a smirk. …
… it takes a very big man to laugh at himself, and a very good actor to get us laughing along with him as well.
... Life may be short, but this comedy is not long enough. …
... perhaps its most impressive aspect is the nonstop guest appearances. ...
... looks, after three episodes, to be another vein of gold for Gervais and Merchant. ...
… the concept finally disappoints -- feeling too precious and derivative for its own good. …
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