Ricky Gervais has divided critics with the second installment of 'Derek'.
Ricky Gervais reintroduced care worker Derek Noakes on Wednesday night (April 23) for a second season of his latest comedy. The show was heavily criticised during season one, with some indignation focusing on Gervais' apparent portrayal of learning difficulties. Derek is a kind man, helpful and selfless with good intentions, though some critics couldn't help but ignore the way in which Gervais played him.
It appears to be more of the same in terms of criticism for season 2, with The Guardian's Sam Wollaston writing, "That's the biggest problem with Derek. Not, as some have said, that it mocks people with learning difficulties (it's too kind for that, and tries to be sympathetic). Just that it's a very crude portrayal. Gervais's previous characters - David Brent and Andy Millman - are not, I suspect, so very different from RG himself, kind of grotesque caricatures. Here he's trying to be someone else completely, and it's awful."
Will Dean, writing in The Independent, argued that there's definitely something here. "There's certainly a good show here, though. Where better to mine pathos than a financially struggling old people's home? Karl Pilkington is brill as eagle-haired handyman Dougie ("Don't kill it? What do you want me to do with it, deport it?" he asked Derek of a huge spider). Colin Hoult, too is fantastic as a possibly deranged ex-squaddie Geoff, who we witnessed explaining "humanzees" to a bewildered Derek," he wrote.
"There is Gervais's cringe-making performance in the title role. I'm sorry, but Derek is simply Ricky Gervais in a patterned jumper with a cricked neck. Gervais is not a character actor and what Derek needs to bring him alive is to be more believable. What he really needs is someone else playing him. This would obviously be tough for Gervais. But when you love someone, you have to set them free," said Terry Ramsey of The Telegraph.
'Derek' continues next Wednesday (April 30, 2014) on Channel 4.