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Monday, December 9, 2013

James Halcomb: Like watching emotional range of a sad clown, Derek is heartbreaking

Sweet, gentle, heartbreaking and, above all, kind. These are just a few of the words I can capture to describe the character (and the show) Derek.
 
The title character is embodied by Ricky Gervais, known to most U.S. audiences as the boss on the U.K. version of The Office or “the mean British guy that hosted the Golden Globes.”
 

Ricky Gervais plays Derek (Photo from Channel 4)

Ricky Gervais plays Derek (Photo from Channel 4)

Gervais plays Derek with half-mumbles and brilliance for the camera, in the mockumentary style he used in The Office, filming him on the job at a British care home for the elderly. “Old people are nicer to me than anyone else in the world,” and that is because he moves at their pace, slow with heart-felt perseverance.
 

Along with Derek, we get his handyman roommate, Douglas, played by Karl Pilkington, with hair and head of the oddest, roundest baldness I have ever seen, and Hannah, played by Kerry Godliman, whose character runs the home where she’s worked for 15 years. Derek’s other buddy is Kev, played by David Earl.
 
They all come with their own baggage, much of which is aired while the cameras are rolling. The show runs the emotional gamut from sad to saddest of ‘clown’ stories. You would consider all the characters pathetic if they weren’t so sad, and so funny. This sadness is what sets this show apart.
 
I honestly can’t tell you of one of the seven episodes during which I didn’t shed at least a small tear. Gervais brings the realities of life and death to his audience with great poignancy. We see how much we all take for granted and the uselessness of being bitter in the end.
 
However, we do have the opportunity to make our life our own and our main goal should be to try to make life a little better for those around us. “It’s more important to be kind than clever or good-looking,” says Derek. It is a great lesson for us all.
 
The final episode of the season holds the greatest ‘laugh out loud moment’ with a history of the band Duran Duran. I have watched the episode at least half a dozen times.
 
Derek is a gentle gem of a show with an important lesson. The lesson: That most of us won’t change the world or go out in a ‘blaze of glory,’ but we can chose to be good and kind and try. We can try to do the right thing, just like Derek does and just like this show. Derek gets ★ ★ ★ ★ from me.
 
Derek airs on Netflix and is only a seven-episode run, but well worth your time.
 

James Halcomb is a nurse tech at the University of Kentucky Hospital. The Lexington resident has spent much of his nearly 40 years of life with his nose in a book, his eyes staring at a screen, ears covered by earphones or his mouth stuffed with food. As a result he became an avid film nerd, TV geek, food snob and book buff. He somehow lucked into meeting the love of his life, Tammy, and married her. They also have a 3-year-old-son, Quinn.
 
 
 

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