David Brent Returns, 10 Years After Wernham Hogg – For Better or For Worse?

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Ricky Gervais has come a long way since the British comedy smash that was The Office. He made the similarly brilliant Extras, and then went on to break podcasting records with his comedy cohorts Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington.

But things took a turn for the absurd soon after. Reaching dangerous levels of popularity, Gervais took an ill-fated swerve to Hollywood, attempting to translate his brand of awkward comedy to the U.S with the Ghost Town and The Invention of Lying.

Back in the U.K, he milked his relationship with Karl Pilkington dry, moving their dynamic onto television with Sky’s Idiot Abroad. The lowest point of Gervais’ post-Office/Extras career was Life’s Too Short – a show starring off-screen friend Warwick Davis, whose Brent-like glances to the camera were so overused - his acting so alike the comedic monolith that preceded him - that viewing became painful.

Unfortunately, the contrived Idiot Abroad series combined with the embarrassingly unoriginal workings of Life’s Too Short to form a third season of ‘Pilkington offending other cultures under the guise of the all-encompassing Gervais.'

Ricky GervaisGervais had to get rid of the designer stubble to bring back Brent

Two (very similar) options become selectable for The Office co-creator: carry on selling the same joke over and over again (see Derek), or re-embrace the Brent-meister, and do so under the umbrella of charity – so often the butt of the Slough-based businessman. And so Brent returned. Still “reppin’”, Brent now has time to peruse his true passion: music.

Doc Brown – who stars as Deon in the hideously lazy representation of a black youth in Derek – plays a similarly stereotyped character in this comic relief piece. But at least Gervais makes light of this with Brent’s perennial journey to prove he’s not racist. "Can all you lot rap then?” he asks Brown’s character Johnson, attempting to complement, but all the while remaining suitably offensive. “Could Trevor McDonald rap if he had to?"

There were funny moments, and there were not-so-funny moments. Often, this felt like a caricature of Brent, who - lest we forget – was last seen in a blaze of glory, telling Finchy to “f*ck off” and ‘getting the girl’ at the Christmas party. This wasn’t the worst thing Gervais has ever done – it was nice to see D. Brent at our service once again – but it’s scary to think what might happen if ol’ Rick forgets why he stopped The Office after two seasons.


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