TV Review: Derek – The Special, C4


30/12/14: Update – if you enjoyed Derek a longer version of the final episode is going to be released on Netflix outside the UK next year: "Even though the UK got it first with its airing on Channel 4, the good news for Netflix viewers around the world is that you will get a longer version, which in my opinion is even better. Not sure on the launch date yet but I should know very soon.,” wrote Gervais on his blog.




And so Derek comes to an end. And like The Office and Extras – though not like the, ahem, short-lived Life’s Too Short – with a one-off episode after two series. It’s called a special because it is the last episode (for now) and not because the titular character is what some might call special.

In previous instalments the care home comedy has invariably gone for the slushily sentimental angle and given the fact that The Office famously ended by going soppy on us, it is no surprise that this extended finale here has a romantic undertow. Hannah (Kerry Godliman) and Tom (Brett Goldstein) are finally getting married, which is as good a reason as any to bring everyone together.

But before the happy day there’s the niggling problem of perennial loser Kev (David Earl) and his alcoholism, which comes to a head when he ends up in hospital. A comical scene finds his family visiting him – when you see his monstrous lager-swigging brother played by Joe Wilkinson and his dad pushed along in a wheelbarrow, maybe Kev doesn’t seem so desperate after all.

And of course in the background of almost every scene is puppy-loving, well-meaning innocent Derek, who even has a date and a sleepover (shades of Tom Hanks in Big here, but in a caravan rather than a Manhattan penthouse). Derek has a ridiculously simplistic view of the world, but as Hannah tacitly accepts, while it might be unrealistic it is so well-intentioned how can you criticise it? Even if it means calling an ambulance when he sees a sick bird.

The climax sees Hannah and Tom’s wedding taking place in the care home following a comic meeting with the vicar who decides that maybe a church is not quite right for the couple as neither believe in God and Tom was brought up Jewish.

It’s a strangely low-key ending. Apart from a brilliantly inappropriate speech from Kev it almost all goes off disappointingly smoothly. I wouldn't say that Derek is the best thing that Ricky Gervais has done, but like the lead character, its heart is certainly in the right place.

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