'Derek' Series 1, Episode 5 (UK Airdate: 27 Feb '13) // Words: Saam Das
As much as I have really enjoyed the first series of 'Derek', each episode's opening scene has been considerably painful to get through. Mainly because of David Earls' grotesque character Kev, who's at it again here. His usual patter of sexually disorientating chat is superceded by casual racism in this cabaret themed episode, featuring a quite dire Duran Duran musical and a similarly terrible ventriloquism act.
While the casual racism ("Blacks and whites unite. And Chinkies.") might be a new low for the series and perhaps even British television in 2013, 'Derek' again proves rewarding in different ways - thanks to its heartfelt core. Amid all the cynicism and pointedness of the Ricky Gervais back catalogue, 'Derek' stands out with its sincerity.
The channel for this episode's heart is the interaction between Derek and new community service volunteer Deon (Doc Brown) - the jarring juxtaposition of the street-smart rapper and the care home worker is compelling. Admittedly, the rapper's dialogue is overly try-hard and suspiciously dubious but the manner in which the two connect is utterly believable.
As Derek notes, referencing the pilot episode, "Joan says sometimes good people do bad things so give them a second chance". Deon is not a bad man. (Even if he thinks he is a "badman".) That much is clear when he performs a rap about his time in the home which ends poignantly. The final interaction between Deon and Derek sums up the series thus far.
Derek: "You were brilliant."
Deon: "Nah, you're brilliant, bruv."
Watch 'Derek' on 4oD. 'Derek' airs on Wednesdays on Channel 4.