Gervais gets bad hair, good heart in ‘Derek’

  • By Greg Evans Bloomberg News
  • Monday, September 9, 2013 1:01pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

In Netflix’s tender-hearted dramedy “Derek,” available for streaming beginning on Thursday, an elderly friend tells Ricky Gervais’ mentally- challenged title character that it’s “more important to be kind than clever.”

Sweet advice for life, but does it apply to sitcoms?

“Derek” suggests it does — in the right hands.

When it debuted on British TV last January, some critics saw mean-spirited derision in Gervais’ badly hair-cut Derek.

That complaint seems wildly off base and may have had less to do with “Derek” than with the comedian’s crude use of an epithet for the handicapped in previous stand-up routines.

If anything, “Derek” seems like an exercise in repentance, as Gervais (writing, directing and starring) presents the loveable character with such saintliness that the show routinely risks condescension.

But “Derek” mostly succeeds, both in its “The Office”-style comedy and lump-in-your-throat generosity.

In the faux-documentary format that Gervais popularized, “Derek” is set in a small, middle-income residence for the elderly.

His Derek Noakes is the home’s orderly and all-purpose angel, a 49-year-old man who calls an ambulance for a dying bird and quietly cries at the passing of each resident.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world,” he says, noting that all of his “favoritest people” live or work at the home. Does it need mentioning that a show unafraid to use “favoritest” isn’t averse to some serious heart-tugging?

“Derek” mostly avoids preciousness by creating a credible universe, with the cash-strapped nursing home an embattled oasis of compassion in a callous world.

More in Life

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Night Circus

The Everett brewery’s head brewer had nightmares trying to dial in its new coffee and coconut ale.

Viognier: French white grape gaining foothold in Washington

Viognier, the noble white grape of the northern Rhône Valley of France,… Continue reading

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

New documentary chronicles Obama’s last year in White House

“The Final Year” doesn’t paint the administration in rosy colors, but it isn’t too critical either.

‘Forever My Girl’ takes a page from the Nicholas Sparks genre

The film based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin is a well-worn tale of lost love and redemption.

Christian Bale seems to channel Clint Eastwood in ‘Hostiles’

Bale plays a U.S. cavalry captain who escorts a dying Cheyenne chief to his tribal homeland.

A visit to the nursery helps put you in the mood to garden

Not ready to get back into gardening? January is still a fun time to poke around a garden center.

Plant of Merit: Hybrid oriental hellebores, Lenten rose

What: Oriental hybrid hellebores, with the common name Lenten rose, are a… Continue reading

International guitar tour led by Lulo Reinhardt stops in Edmonds

International Guitar Night, now in its 18th year, is Jan. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Most Read