I don’t know how to feel about Life’s Too Short.
On one hand, it’s potentially offensive, pretty unoriginal when you get past the thing making it offensive, and uninteresting. But it’s also quite funny. Basically it proves that Ricky Gervais is still definitely Ricky Gervais.
A reality show crew follow actor Warwick Davis around and chronicle his life, placing the emphasis on him being a dwarf. So there are a lot of jokes about him being short, all on the line between irony and Victorian freak show humour. Aside from that, this is basically a more extreme and less developed Extras. We have an unsympathetic protagonist who is desperately looking for fame and suffers constant jokes about his unconventional appearance. This time he’s completely unlikeable and has no character arc, starting and ending as a failed celebrity with little self-awareness. We have a dumb blonde woman who offers support but is too stupid to be nice about it. Here, instead of warm hearted Maggie she’s Warwick’s assistant, far more stupid and far less caring. We have the socially awkward situations the protagonist is responsible for because of his own moral failings and which he makes worse through his inability to see beyond his own needs. Extras had actors cameoing as themselves; here half the characters are playing themselves, including Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. And the writing is exactly the same as everything Gervais has ever made; lots of depressing, stiff naturalism through repetition and exaggeration.
Ironically, it suffers sometimes from not being like Extras enough. Unlike the earlier show here there’s no emotional heart. Nothing and nobody to root for. There’s nothing that you want to happen.
Now I know it’s unfair to look at anything by comparing it to something else, but Life’s Too Short makes it impossible to do anything else. This is Extras. This is Ricky Gervais rehashing the same idea, and with only a shrewd superficial difference to hide it. Extras was great why would anyone watch this when they could re-watch that?
Life’s Too Short is available online from the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017cj76