Ricky Gervais returns to episodic TV, covers everything from cursed mugs to suicidal space monkeys. Were you amused?

Big decision last night: Did you watch some of the world’s best athletes duke it out on all sorts of frozen surfaces, or one of the planet’s funniest men unveil his latest TV creation? Given that my colleague Mandi Bierly is all over the former topic, let’s touch on the latter. We got our first peek at HBO’s The Ricky Gervais Show and while it didn’t elevate itself into the rarefied air of The Office or Extras, it had some daffy laughs and a breezy, retro charm.

Most of you with iTunes know the premise; this is an animated representation of Gervais’ wildly successful podcasts, in which he and Stephen Merchant (his talented beanstalk of a writing partner from The Office and Extras) sit around and chat up/interview Karl Pilkington, their old producer. The subdued yet rambling Pilkington has a, um, unique perspective of the world; call him creatively halfwitted. Dude wishes inventions had ended 100 years ago (“Do you need a plane really? Wouldn’t it be better if we all stuck where we should be instead of all traveling about?”), and peddles a supposedly true story about an astronaut monkey who was trained with a button that dispensed bananas on a rocket ship, and later became so distraught that it couldn’t return to space that “it sort of ended up killing itself because it could never get that buzz that it got.” (I also enjoyed his comment: “You know how like they say people have sixth senses? There’s loads more than that.”)

The show centers on Gervais and Merchant goading Pilkington on and then skewering him; Gervais calls him “braindead” and one of his theories “the ramblings of someone you’d find by themselves in a hospital, eating flies.” (As Gervais told EW, “I really do think the world’s got another Homer Simpson, but this one is totally real.” Behold the irony that Pilkington is animated here.) Merchant is slightly more restrained in his barbs, deadpanning lines like “You know The Flinstones is only partly based on fact.” You do feel a smidge sorry for Pilkington—just look at that hangdog animation above—but when he’s talking sincerely about a mug in a tavern that winds up killing anyone who touches it, he is, of course, serving himself up on a platter. I’ve only heard a little of their wonderful podcasts (believe me, it’s on my list), but I’m guessing fans of the audio-only incarnation might argue that the fun is to imagine all the wild scenarios in their heads rather than have them animated. The animation, while cute, was sometimes too literal and distracting. I did like the idea of Hitler’s and Nero’s hands meeting over a pig in a blanket, though. Bottom line: I’ll be checking out another installment.

PopWatchers, what did you think of the Return of Ricky? Will you be tuning in again next week or sticking to the podcasts? And for you diehard fans, what’s your favorite all-time Pilkington line?



Comments (89 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 4
  • rob

    I thought it was great, really funny! keep it up!

  • Mel

    It’s nothing groundbreaking, just a really fun, entertaining show. A perfect way to spend 20 minutes.

    • d

      i agree. part of the appeal is that its so short.

      • JaySin420

        Yea I was laughing my ass off and it was over before I knew it.

  • Moe

    It was hilarious. I loved the part when the “round headed guy” was talking about the haunted house and he mentions the writing on the back of the note. LOOOl. But i feel sorry for him because i Ricky and Stephen pick on him alot.

  • John

    I don’t know, I can just see this getting old fast. It’s just so much more mean-spirited than the Office or Extras, which were dark but honest. Here it’s just too much Ricky Gervais poking fun at some poor dolt. Ricky’s really got nothing to lose, though. As he has pointed out he’s already recorded all the podcasts so HBOis just paying him for stuff he’s already done.

    • Lisa

      i agree – i thought it was mean-sprited and hard to watch. they were just plain mean to the other guy and then we had to hear ricky (who i really do love) cackle 100 times. i thought he was more talented than this meanfest.

      • healthyattitude

        if you listen to the whole series ftom the “Early Days” to Season 5 of XFM, Ricky Steve and Karl’s radio show, you will hear the progression of how they came about and how Karl’s view on life is very dry and remember that he has chosen this for a living and has become very well off because of it.
        Karl is extremely funny in his own right but it has taken Ricky and Steve to bring it out over a period of about 15years. And if anyone hasn’t heard the podcasts of their show, do so, as they are hilarious and you will see that all they have done is add the animation to the audio.
        Believe me it doesn’t get old but you get into more.

  • Keil S.

    As someone who plowed through all the podcasts while on vacation this past summer, I was really looking forward to it. I enjoyed it, but am wondering how people unfamiliar with the material felt about it. Either way, you should keep tuning in, because Karl is a blast and his Monkey News segments only get more insane as the show progresses.

  • Ed

    I love Ricky, but I’d rather watch the real Ricky and not the cartoon version. He’s so cute. :-)

    • Tara

      Yummy Ricky.

  • Keil S.

    It should also be added that this cannot be fully appreciated with only one viewing, especially if you’re in a noisy setting. There are many jokes flying around, some of them little more than a casual mumble in the background. However, it would have been great had they thought to film the original podcasts as they were recorded. THAT would truly be something to see.


  • madge

    I can’t imagine liking it unless you know that Karl is serious.
    I loved it.

  • KR

    They are so mean to Pilkington that I found most of it too painful to watch.

  • Melanie

    I’m a huge fan of Rich Gervais, but I thought it just came off as mean-spirited. Half way in I started to feel really bad for Karl, and I’m not sure that’s what Ricky is going for.

  • Doug

    So none of you have that “one guy” in your group of friends that you make fun of constantly?

    • KRibbons


  • Claire

    I will definitely watch next week!! It was the funniest 26 minutes of television I have seen in a while.
    Yeah, they are a bit harsh on Karl, but I think he knows it is all in good fun. I am looking forward to episode 2!

  • ‘arry

    it’s just not as funny as the podcasts are. the podcasts are soooo hilarious and amazing but it doesn’t seem to translate as well to cartoon. i don’t think they’re too mean to karl, after listening to at least 15 hours of the podcasts and then the audiobooks they all do karl doesn’t take what steve and ricky say personally. LOVE karl steve and ricky but the podcasts and audiobooks are way better when you’re listening to them-i recommend anyone who has watched the show to buy them on iTunes they’re pretty cheap

  • Gervais

    Not that funny. Sorry.

  • Chris

    I could eat a nob at night.

    • thin


    • J. Brown

      That’s “knob”

      • Billy

        “Nob” is also correct in this context. I’m in England, we don’t get this show till next month I think but am really looking forward to it – been a long time Xfm and podcast follower. K Man Pilkoids is the greatest – “We’ve gotta join BUPA” – that line cracks me up every time!

Page: 1 2 3 4
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP