'Derek' Series 1, Episode 3 (UK Airdate: 13 Feb '13) // Words: Saam Das
Opening with genuinely the worst two minutes of television I've seen this year, Episode 3 of 'Derek' started off in a most dubious fashion. A brutal combination of Kev's sexploits and Derek licking a toad was particularly crass but thankfully, things eventually picked up.
It certainly didn't immediately get better - Derek (Ricky Gervais) calling an ambulance to try to save a dead bird is hardly the most inspiring of situations, from both comedic and dramatic perspectives. But the ever superb Dougie (Karl Pilkington) soon began to redress the balance.
Dougie is fast becoming one of the most enjoyable characters in the Gervais-universe - nattering on about the tat around the home and bitching about the awful daughter of one of the residents, who was somehow even more disgustingly unpalatable than Kev (David Earl). Which I had previously thought was impossible.
Much of the episode centred around care home manager Hannah's (Kerry Godliman) struggle to balance her job and love life. Meanwhile, the emotional crux formed around the death of a resident. Unsurprisingly, the two strands came together - magnificently, as has already become the trademark of 'Derek'.
Unfortunately, Gervais' directorial style always seems slighted by niggles, whether it be his penchant to have a character force a look toward the camera or his love of unnecessary montage sequences. In this episode, a passage of Hannah quoting WH Auden seemed somewhat out of place.
Yet perhaps more so than in his previous efforts, 'Derek' has a regular flow of truisms, delivered through its excellent dialogue. Thanks partly to Dougie's rousing monologues but more so due to the down-to-earth nature of the likes of Derek and Hannah - straight-forward yet well-rounded, emotionally resonant characters.
Watch 'Derek' on 4oD for a limited time. The series airs every Wednesday at 10pm on Channel 4.