Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One to Watch: Derek

While recently visiting my knuckleheads, I discovered Derek, a new Netflix original series featuring Ricky Gervais.

The show centers around Derek, a care worker at a British nursing home, where he says all his favoritest people are at. Derek loves and pampers his patients, because he says old people are kind; they're nicer to him supposedly than anyone else in the world, and in turn he's beloved by them and the other staff, including Dougie, his friend and roommate who serves as the home's jack of all trades caretaker; Kev, a pervy unemployed friend who loiters about the place; and Hannah, the nursing home administrator who for the past 15 years has lovingly and selflessly cared for Derek and all her charges.

I've only gotten the chance to watch three episodes, including the pilot, from Season 1, and found that despite my expectations given Gervais' role, the show has been more poignant and moving than laugh out loud funny, especially the pilot which dealt with Derek's loss of his favorite patient, Joan, who reminded him of his mom. Those last few minutes when Derek shares Joan's words of wisdom to him, "Kindness is magic...It's more important to be kind than clever or good looking" and he softly pats his own head with her hand; ugh, I dare anyone to watch and not cry. After it ended, I could only wipe away tears and marvel at the fact that Ricky Gervais had made me cry.

Gervais does a wonderful job of offering a sympathetic, and not mocking, portrayal of a tender man with a child-like innocence in his view of the world; a man who despite going through alot doesn't feel sorry for himself, in fact, he says he's luckiest man in the world because of his many friends. While Gervais' name might be above the title, and his performance definitely surpassed my expectations, I think Kerry Godliman as Hannah is brilliant. In her portrayal of a sweet woman totally dedicated to the elderly patients entrusted to her care, she conveys so much compassion and understanding in her gentle smiles, and shy hopefulness in her confessionals in front of the camera (this show also features mockumentary style confessionals ala The Office). When she shyly, almost guiltily, confesses her interest in Annie's son, Tom, she reminded me of Pam talking about Jim on The Office.

With newfound respect for Gervais as an actor and not just a comedian, I'm definitely looking forward to watching what the remainder of Season 1 has in store for Derek.

P.S. Finished all of the Derek episodes (7 total). What can I say? Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington, and every actor on this incredible show are geniuses, and Derek was beautiful, moving, and filled with so much heart and sincerity. Every episode was better than the last; sweeter and funnier (I take back the not being laugh out loud funny). Each episode was like condensed life lessons with little nuggets of wisdom, mostly from good old Joan, including one of my favorites "You make a living from what you get; you make a life from what you give." Brilliant, don't you think? Gosh darn it, there's got to be more! I hope there's a season 2 because I loved each one of the Broad Hill crew and I want to know what life brings them.

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that despite not having Netflix I was able to watch all of the episodes on YouTube. Apparently, Derek aired pre-Netflix in the U.K. and thankfully, some fine old chap was kind enough to post all of the episodes. So, cheerio, and head on over to YouTube to watch an amazing show.