Ricky Gervais’ ‘Derek’ on Netflix review

Derek

Available now for streaming on Netflix

A giant crane (L) that will lift up the sunken 'Sewol' ferry is silhouetted against the sunset in Jindo on April 24, 2014. Furious relatives of missing victims from South Korea's ferry disaster attacked a top coastguard official accusing him of lying about efforts to retrieve bodies still trapped in the submerged vessel. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURINICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Photos of the day

China fashion, London’s Globe Theatre, a breakaway iceberg, Sewol ferry victim search, a New York cat cafe and more.

GoingOut Guide
Looking for things to do?
Select one or more criteria to search
Get ideas

Ricky Gervais writes, directs and stars in this tenderhearted ensemble mockumentary about an enthusiastic employee at the Broad Hill retirement home. The show is a risk for Gervais, who combs his hair over and juts his jaw into an underbite in order to play the title character; we are to understand that Derek is not quite right but none of the words for it seem apt. (Simple? Special? Mentally disabled? Autistic?)

It’s ingenious that “Derek” is less preoccupied with a diagnosis and more focused on the minuscule but meaningful ways that Derek interacts with his elderly charges. The only problem is an overall feeling of hesi­ta­tion — on Gervais’s part, but also on his audience’s. You’re so braced for something to snap, for the comedy to stray into no-no land, that it’s hard to relax and appreciate “Derek’s” emotional intent.

A strong supporting cast (including Kerry Godliman as the facility’s overworked manager and Karl Pilkington as the handyman) does what it can, but after a few episodes, “Derek” becomes less absorbing; it’s more of a character sketch than a fully realized story. Grade: C+

Next:

Mom

More TV content

Show more
 
Read what others are saying