DARINGLY, DARKLY WITTY
THERE’S nothing funny about depression or soul-destroying grief, yet somehow Ricky Gervais has found the black humour in it. The sardonic British comic writes, directs and stars in this six-part series about a bereaved journalist who refuses to participate in social niceties since the death of his wife. Actually, that’s an understatement. Gervais’ character Tony doesn’t just flout polite conversation, he bulldozes through. Saying and doing exactly as he feels is the new “super power” Tony has adopted since his loss and he’s not afraid to use it. Within the first 10 minutes, he’s unleashed on a stranger in the park; then taught a schoolboy a few new swear words as he abuses the ginger-haired kid who is bullying his nephew. And still you can’t help but like him. His job at the local paper isn’t helping lift his mood – particularly when he’s covering mundane ‘stories’ including one resident’s discovery of a water stain on his wall that looks like actor Kenneth Branagh. Then there’s his daily visits to his elderly father (David Bradley), whose senile reveries include making inappropriate sexual comments to his nurse and repeatedly asking after Tony’s wife, forgetting she’s dead. Sure, the subject matter is bleak and the humour dark but the show’s lasting message is the very opposite. By series’ end, Tony reaches a seismic epiphany, which won’t necessarily sit well with all viewers.