LIFE’S TOO SHORT Series Premiere Review

     February 19, 2012


After finding success with The Office in the UK, not to mention the US adaptation on NBC, writer, director and star Ricky Gervais returns to the mockumentary subgenre with his longtime friend and writing partner Stephen Merchant. However, this time the two British funnymen bring a new face into the comedic world as Life’s Too Short follows an exaggerated version of dwarf actor Warwick Davis, still clinging to his fame from starring in films like Return of the Jedi, Willow and the Harry Potter franchise and struggling to keep his life together as an agent for other dwarf actors and a smug star who might be too big for his britches. For my take on HBO’s new series hit the jump.

lifes-too-short-poster-warwick-davis-ricky-gervaisWhat ensues is a hilarious new series that doesn’t simply make fun of Davis and his problems as a small person, but rather his issues with a big personality, not unlike Gervais arrogant characters that lead Extras. Much like Gervais’ character in Extras, Davis seems entitled to fame and respect to the point that his personality ruins any of the charm he might otherwise have. As a documentary crew follow Davis, he tries to paint a positive picture of his life despite all his shortcomings (seriously, no pun intended). From his cocky attitude that led to him separating from his wife to only regret his decision shortly thereafter to his desperate attempts to stay working by taking the acting jobs away from the dwarves he represents in the industry.

Also like Extras, the series, set in the world of show business, allows both Gervais and Merchant to also play exaggerated versions of themselves with plenty of laughs, many even at the expense of their own well-known careers. Along with our familiar stars, each episode also features a big name guest star which pushes the funny into the red. In the first three episodes, Liam Neeson, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have a ridiculous amount of fun on the show, all acting in a way we wish came through in real life (well, maybe). From Neeson’s attempts at comedy (including one hell of an AIDS joke) to Depp’s revenge on Gervais for his Golden Globe remarks and an issue Ms. Bonham Carter has with looking at Davis’ face, each guest star is a laugh riot.

But aside from the big name’s that stop by Gervais and Merchant’s office, there’s a phenomenal lesser known supporting cast Rosamund Hanson playing Davis’ new blunt and ditzy secretary (though in Hollywood they call them assistants) and Steve Brody playing Davis’ inept and inexperienced accountant who just might be as bad as Andy Millman’s agent that Stephen Merchant played in Extras.

Thankfully, just like Gervais previous television efforts, it’s not just the laughs that make this a quality show. Davis is still a human being who has serious problems that sometimes come crashing down on him with no comedy to follow. There’s heart and honesty in the series, much of it resulting from the mockumentary style that makes the series feel all too real, especially in the world of show business. Honestly, with a track record that remains flawless after this series, there’s a good chance that Gervais can do no wrong. And thankfully, working in British television, a series like this won’t be run into the ground by countless episodes and too many seasons. Hopefully the series moves beyond the first seven episodes coming on HBO as I’m greatly looking forward to seeing where Davis and Gervais take these heightened versions of themselves.

Life’s Too Short premieres Sunday, February 19th at 10:30.


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  • Angmal

    Give it time – it’s really not very good. Bad reviews here in the UK and low viewing figures too, which declined with every episode.

  • Gavin

    Are you absolutely crazy? You watched it and thought it was good? It’s a horrendously bad show. It’s just basically a cross between Extras and The Office, taking all the comedic moments in Extras and replacing them with the cringe inducing moments in The Office. The show should be called “Life’s too Short to Watch this Shit”. There’s a running bit in the series where the dwarf consistently falls out of his SUV… that’s funny isn’t it? Sorry Ethan, this isn’t really directed at you. It’s just that I was so disappointed with the entire series and the one point of solace I had was that everybody was in agreement about what dross it was.

    • Rick Roll

      It’s the laziest show ever. Gervais and Merchant barely even get up from behind their desks, and Merchant has about four lines in the whole series. They went from the sublime The Office to the funny-but-flawed Extras, to this utter tripe! A career of diminishing returns.

  • Jay McKells

    Yeah like everyones already said, this got slated here in the UK and rightly so.. It’s basically watching Warwick David try and play Ricky Gervais badly. But I do have to say, Liam Neeson’s cameo is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen (just a shame Ethan felt the need to give anything away about it, why do that?!?!? Half the humour is in the shock value that you’ve just ruined homeboy)…

  • X

    Man i wish i’d seen the same show as you. The one i saw was really bad, i only watched the first 2 episodes and i had to stop. It’s really lazy like the guy above said, and its not funny. and nothing about it rings true at all, none of the situations or celebrities or even ricky gervais. apparently he has no idea how to play himself cuz he doesn’t act anything like he does in real life. i hope they don’t do another season, but unfortunately it’s likely