The Telefile
Life's Too Short: Little Person, Big Ego

Based on your feelings towards the original The Office, Extras and Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's dark British humor in general, you can pretty much precisely predict how you're going to feel about Warwick Davis-starring Life's Too Short on HBO. After watching the first three episodes, I'd also factor in your thoughts on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Gervais' Golden Globe shtick and how much you really liked Willow. Proceed from there.

In terms of actual plot, if cameras followed David Brent for a bit longer after the UK Office Christmas special, we'd basically get the same premise as this show: A man who was briefly in the spotlight (Davis obviously more famously than Brent, of course) is trying to hold on to whatever celebrity he still has, and is pathetic in doing so. It was hilarious the first time around and still can be in small doses, but it's a little bit harder to watch without the hope of romantic interest or... I don't know, something besides relentless Gervais praise. (Not that I entirely dislike the guy or anything. I'd just like to see him in a situation that didn't manage to incidentally highlight his faults to an unbearable degree.) My stomach for the absolute driest of the dry British humor isn't as strong as it once was, because at its worst, Too Short was like watching the raw, early episodes of Curb again. And speaking of things that are hard to watch, Gervais has absolutely got to stop referencing the 2011 Globes.

But since the tired Globes joke episode still has another week 'til it premieres, I'll avoid spoiling it for you and focus on the fact that the weakest part of this series are the scenes in Gervais and Merchant's office. I'd prefer to just watch Davis be a terrible person who awkwardly interacts with his soon-to-be ex-wife, idiot accountant and his incompetent best friend. That universe, while a little predictable, is bleak in a way that's at least enjoyable, and it doesn't feel tethered to dead weight the way that the office scenes feel.

That said, Davis has a great sense of comedic timing, and plays those schadenfreude-inducing scenes hilariously -- and the darker the writing gets, the more he rises to the occasion. I also thoroughly enjoy the Extras-inspired scenes with high-profile celebrities acting against type, and I would love to have seen the behinds-the-scenes of Liam Neeson reading a script where he's about to try his hand at AIDS jokes. After watching Chris Lilley's Angry Boys, I now understand that the place for cringe-inducing blackface jokes is definitely HBO... the context and delivery of each are completely different, but both were so bad, they were good.

Political correctness in general is completely removed from Too Short, for the better. Sure, everyone around Davis's character is completely obsessed with his stature, but all this guy really cares about is getting back in the limelight and literally paying some debt. In a time where Peter Dinklage is America's Sweetheart, I'm hoping that we'll see in future episodes (including in the show's already confirmed second season) rants from Davis about why he's not getting work when people like Dinklage are, as it would show a lovely juxtaposition between a little person who happens to be terrible, and a bona fide terrific actor (no disrespect to Willow) and this fictionalized jackass.

Either way, I'll stick around to see what happens. But if my mind starts to wander when I see Gervais on screen, I don't think I'll be much worse for the wear.

Remember when Ricky Gervais wasn't obsessed with the entertainment industry? Vloggers Sean Crespo and Carol Hartsell find it hard to:

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