Life's Too Short

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Life's Too Short
Genre Sitcom
Created by Warwick Davis
Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Starring Warwick Davis
Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Country of origin United Kingdom
United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 7 (+1 special) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
Mark Freeland
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22–30 minutes
60 minutes (2013 special)
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
HBO
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run 10 November 2011 (2011-11-10) – 30 March 2013 (2013-03-30) (UK)
19 February 2012 (2012-02-19) – July 5, 2013 (US)
External links
Website

Life's Too Short is a British sitcom mockumentary created and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant from an idea by Warwick Davis. As described by Gervais, it s about "the life of a showbiz dwarf". Davis plays a fictionalised version of himself, and both Gervais and Merchant appear in supporting roles as themselves. The show began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011.[1][2] Premium cable channel HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC, have the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.[3][4]

In January 2013, it was announced that Life's Too Short would end later in the year with a special that would bring the series closure.[5] The one-hour special aired on 30 March 2013 in the UK and 5 July 2013 in the US.

Background[edit]

The genesis of the show came when Davis worked with Gervais and Merchant in an episode of the second series of Extras, when he co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe. During filming, Davis told them about the trials of life for a man of 3 feet 6 inches in height, such as having to use a mop handle to reach objects on the high shelves in supermarkets, and people touching him for luck as if he were a leprechaun. Gervais told reporters: "The real Warwick tells us these great stories. They're comedy gold." Stephen Merchant commented of Davis that "he helped create the idea and came to us with the story."[6] When asked by an interviewer if the title of the show offended him, Davis pointed out that he came up with it.[7]

Gervais and Merchant approached the BBC about developing a show centred on a character based on Davis.[8]

Gervais described it as "A cross between Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave but with a dwarf. That is out and out funny."[9] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly he elaborated: "It's a single camera sitcom following the trials and tribulations of ‘Warwick Davis, showbiz dwarf.' Warwick is playing a twisted version of himself. He's quite conceited and arrogant and manipulative. And he runs a small person talent agency, which he does in real life. Me and Steve Merchant pop up as ourselves, just to add some realism. Warwick comes round and says, 'Doing any more Extras? Got any work?' And we go, 'Ooh, no, not really.' And we try to get rid of him. It's fantastic. We did some casting today. I'm off to America for some shows and then I come back after that and we shoot a little pilot, just like we did with The Office ten years ago, and then we'll see."[10] In an interview with Jonathan Ross, Davis said that his character is egotistical and suffers from small man syndrome,[11] while Gervais said of the character "he refuses to live his life as a disabled person. We're making him empowered but also give him these foibles".[8] He also described it as "Third in our trilogy of TV sitcoms ... another naturalist observational comedy, dealing with everyday problems, human foibles and social faux pas ... but with a dwarf."[12] Gervais also said of the series and of Davis' character: "It's returning to our Office roots of fake documentary ... It follows the life of a showbiz dwarf, Warwick Davis, who's really a showbiz dwarf. He plays a twisted version of himself and he's doing this documentary to try to get his career back on track. He has a big tax bill, he's going through a messy divorce and he's trying to get back his Hollywood career. He's a conniving, back-biting little Napoleon."[13]

The following is a list of episodes from the BBC television series, Life's Too Short.

In total, there are eight episodes of Life's Too Short (seven in one series and one Easter special).

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2011)[edit]

No. Episode Celebrity guest star(s) UK viewers[14] Original air date
1 "Episode One" Liam Neeson & Shaun Williamson 3.21 million 10 November 2011 (2011-11-10)
Warwick seeks advice from old pals Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, but Liam Neeson has beaten him to it. The film crew charts Warwick's every move as he tries to maintain his pride and self-respect in some very unusual situations.
2 "Episode Two" Johnny Depp & Shaun Williamson 2.07 million 17 November 2011 (2011-11-17)
Despite an awkward appearance at a sci-fi convention, an unsuccessful money-making brainstorming session with his assistant Cheryl, and a humiliating guest appearance at a Star Wars-themed wedding....Warwick's fortune seems to be on the rise when Johnny Depp hires him to research a new movie role until Johnny gets revenge on Ricky for humiliating him at the Golden Globes and storms out of the office.
3 "Episode Three" Helena Bonham Carter 1.25 million
(Overnight)[15]
24 November 2011 (2011-11-24)
After complaints that he takes all the best roles for himself, Warwick launches a website and creates showreels for his clients. But he still takes on a role opposite Helena Bonham Carter.
4 "Episode Four" Steve Carell, Right Said Fred & Les Dennis 1.04 million
(Overnight)[16]
1 December 2011 (2011-12-01)
During messy divorce negotiations, Warwick asks Ricky and Stephen for personal advice. Meanwhile, he moves into a new apartment and seeks election as chairman of the Society of People of Small Stature.
5 "Episode Five" Keith Chegwin, Shaun Williamson & Les Dennis 1.00 million
(Overnight)[17]
8 December 2011 (2011-12-08)
With mounting anxieties about the state of his work and home life, Warwick decides to explore different religions, and also returns to the dating agency where he met his wife Sue.
6 "Episode Six" Cat Deeley, Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis, Shaun Williamson & Ewen Macintosh 1.26 million
(Overnight)[18]
15 December 2011 (2011-12-15)
Warwick meets up with estranged wife Sue and her solicitor - and new partner - Ian to finalise their divorce settlement. But his decision to bring his accountant along for advice and support doesn't work out as planned.
7 "Episode Seven" Sting & Sophie Ellis-Bextor 1.13 million
(Overnight)[19]
20 December 2011 (2011-12-20)
Warwick attends a charity event in the hope of hanging out with celebrities. However, in trying to impress Sting he ends up spending more than he can afford. Consequently he has to look for a new home and hopes Amy will see him again.

Special (2013)[edit]

No. Episode Celebrity guest star(s) UK viewers[14] Original air date
8 "Special" Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis, Shaun Williamson & Val Kilmer 1.35 30 March 2013 (2013-03-30)
Things are looking up for Warwick when he is approached by Hollywood star Val Kilmer to film a sequel to 1988 fantasy film Willow. However, he needs to help finance the movie himself, and he's got other things on his plate - such as balancing the interests of his clients at Dwarves for Hire, and managing a touring cabaret show starring Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson.

Development[edit]

Warwick Davis, the star of Life's Too Short

Gervais first mentioned Life's Too Short on his blog in February 2010, when he and Merchant were writing and casting the project.[20]

The pilot for the comedy was commissioned by the BBC in April 2010.[21] Gervais reported on progress in his blog. In April 2010, he stated, "Some reports are saying that the Life's Too Short pilot we are shooting in the summer will be aired. It wont [sic]. It is a non-broadcast pilot. We will shoot the whole series before anything is aired. We're not sure how many eps [episodes] we will record (probably 6) and not sure when the series will air."[20]

Gervais wrote on his blog in June 2010 "Found the last location today for Life's Too Short. It feels great doing this project. Just like The Office and Extras. Starting from scratch, just me and Steve in a room crafting a brand new show. It doesn't get better than that for me." He later wrote that filming of the pilot was undertaken in June and July 2010. Gervais commented in July 2010 "Finished the pilot for Life's Too Short too. Just have to write the series now".[20] The series was produced by Charlie Hanson, who previously produced Extras, and Michelle Farr.[22] The series was executive produced by Gervais and Merchant along with Mark Freeland.[8][23] On 17 September 2010 the BBC announced, via the BBC Two Controller Janice Hadlow, and the Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning Cheryl Taylor, that the six-part series had been commissioned and filmed in 2011.[12]

In June 2010, while talking at the Banff World Media Festival, Gervais described Life's Too Short as "the funniest thing we've done."[8] Gervais told The Hollywood Reporter "We're having so much fun working with Warwick. Pound for pound he is one of the funniest men I know."[8] Stephen Merchant said of Davis: "Warwick is very funny, a very physical comedian which we really made use of ... He's very charismatic, very charming in it ... I was really pleased. He's a real comic star in waiting."[6]

Gervais reported in his blog on the progress of writing Life's Too Short throughout November 2010: "Had a great week writing Life's Too Short. It's the hardest bit, the most important bit and the most invigorating bit", and in a later entry "Wrote one of the funniest sketches we've ever done for Life's Too Short. Six hours hard labour for a potential two minutes screen time."[20] In January 2011 he reported that he was still working on the scripts for the show, and in February that he and Merchant were trying to finish writing Life's Too Short.[20]

The owner of a house used as a location for the pilot commented on the BBC Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House on 30 January 2011 that a scene filmed there had involved Davis and a dog-sized pet flap,[24] and in a February 2011 filmed conversation with American comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Gervais told him that he wanted him to appear in Life's Too Short as a version of himself, playing "quite a whiny Upper East Side Jewish guy".[25]

In March 2011 Gervais reported on his blog "Getting ready to film Life's Too Short."[20] Merchant confirmed that filming would begin in May 2011.[26] Cast members included Jo Enright, who played Warwick Davis' wife in the pilot,[27] Shaun Williamson, who played himself (known as "Barry off EastEnders") in Extras,[28] Cat Deeley,[7] Rosamund Hanson,[29] Kiruna Stamell[30] and Jamie Dodd.[31] Boxer Mike Tyson also asked Gervais to consider casting him in a role.[20]

On 31 March 2011 Gervais confirmed on his blog that "We've basically got first drafts of all seven episodes of Life's Too Short now. Yes seven!". As the pilot has already been filmed, the series will comprise eight shows. On 1 April he stated "Started casting Life's Too Short this week too. So much fun."[20] On 29 April he wrote "Did the last of the casting today on Life's Too Short. Some amazing cameos too. You know about the [Johnny] Depp one, but hopefully we might be able to keep a couple of the other really big ones under wraps. Not just because of the surprise factor but because it takes the focus away from the real meat of the show."[20] On 11 May the cast had their first read-through of all seven episodes, and rehearsals started on the week beginning 16 May 2011 with Gervais commenting "We've put together an amazing cast so it should be a joy."[20] Filming started on 30 May 2011.[20]

On 22 June 2011 it was announced that Sting and Steve Carell would be filming cameos for the series.[32] The teaser trailer released on the same day featured Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson as well as the three main stars.[33] On 11 July Gervais hinted on his blog that a Doctor Who-related cameo would be in the show, as well as posting a link to a YouTube video of him and Warwick Davis filmed on the set of Life's Too Short.[20] Earlier in that week he had blogged about how "Matt Groening's favourite character from The Office will make a cameo in Life's Too Short", along with an on-set photograph of actor Ewen MacIntosh who played Big Keith in The Office.

Principal filming ran for eight weeks ending on 22 July 2011.[20]

Gervais and Davis attended a question and answer session to discuss the making of Life's Too Short at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2011.[34]

A half-hour long documentary, The Making of Life's Too Short, aired on BBC Two and BBC HD on 5 November 2011, prior to the start of the series run.[citation needed]

After the first series finished airing, Gervais confirmed via Twitter that a second series had been commissioned for early 2013.[35] Despite this, Gervais stated on his blog that "We are thinking of going straight to the Xmas Special. Lazier and lazier. Now it's down to ONE series and a special. Ha ha."[36]

The series finale premiered on July 5, 2013 in the US on HBO and is available to view on HBO Go.

Cast[edit]

Cameo appearances[edit]

Reception[edit]

UK critical response[edit]

In the United Kingdom the first series received mostly mixed reviews. Rachel Tarley, of Metro, described the show as "tripe" while David Butcher of the Radio Times introduced his review of episode six with "another week, another queasy mix of comedy and unpleasantness."[37][38] Many reviews were deeply critical of the writing – Gwilym Mumford of The Guardian felt that writers Gervais and Merchant were "on autopilot," referring to the programme as "strikingly lazy stuff, comprised of little more than a predictable checklist of taboos and social faux pas,"[39] and journalist for The Independent Robert Epstein likewise branded it "shoddily derivative" and potentially degrading.[40] T.J. Barnard, Associate Editor for WhatCulture!, called the show "a mess. It's aimless, indulgent, self-plagiarizing and cold."[41]

However Metro's review of episode 7 was slightly more positive saying "Life's Too Short bowed out tonight with an episode that was more than marginally better than the six previous offerings, not only was the plot stronger than in previous weeks, but there were some genuinely funny scenes too, most notably a discussion between Gervais and Merchant about charity. And Steve Brody as Warwick's ineffectual giggly/depressive accountant continued to shine."[42]

More positive reviews could be found in The Telegraph, where Gerald O'Donovan praised the show for its "Belly laughs and cringe-making moments."[43] Likewise, Caroline Frost of The Huffington Post applauded both the writing and the acting following the first episode, proclaiming that though it could easily have overreached, "Gervais and Merchant have pulled another one out of the hat."[44]

While the first episode rated strongly in the UK, the ratings dropped by 40% in the following week,[45] and by the fifth episode the overnight ratings had dropped below a million, to 997,000 – 35% down on the average audience for its timeslot in the UK.[46]

Critical reaction to the Easter special was more positive, Dan Owen of msn.tv said "this Easter special was one of Life's Too Short's better episodes and provided enough laughs and fun to please most viewers." He felt that the special felt like a new pilot for the show that "fixed a few problems." He felt that Keith Chegwin, Shaun Williamson and Les Dennis were the funniest parts of the hour. Overall he gave the special 3 stars out of five.[47] The Metro agreed saying, "there were laughs to be had here, mainly from the antics of Williamson, Chegwin and Dennis."[47] The Guardian praised the episode and called it "a piece of genius" and admired it for being "done with such a breathtaking boldness."[48]

Harry Venning of The Stage gave a positive review of the first series also gave a positive review of the special "My favourite comedy of 2011 enjoyed a last hurrah. Sadly, it looks as though there will be no second series." He felt that Rosamund Hanson provided scene-stealing support as dippy secretary Cheryl. He concluded that overall Life's Too Short was "Painfully poignant, beautifully played and constantly inventive, this one-hour special conclusively proved that Life’s Too Short’s own end was also premature."[49]

US critical response[edit]

In the United States the show received generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the show received an average score of 63, based on 14 reviews, which indicates "Generally favorable reviews".[50] On Rotten Tomatoes, the show holds a rating of 55% based on 33 critics, with the consensus reading: "Life's Too Short is enjoyably crass, but borrows heavily from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's previous work."[51]

Home media release[edit]

Life's Too Short was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 22 October 2012[52] in the UK, 7 November 2012 in Australia [53] and on 15 January 2013 in the US.[54]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sykes, Jaine. "Life's Too Short". Comedy Blog. BBC. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Tweet That! – Life's Too Short". YouTube. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Ricky Gervais, Steven Merchant, And Warwick Davis Tease Life's Too Short". Cinemablend.com. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Alex Fletcher (23 June 2011). "Ricky Gervais 'Life's Too Short' heads for HBO – US TV News". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2013-01-04). "'Life's Too Short' To End HBO Run With Special". Deadline. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  6. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Merchant on The Office and Life's Too Short". Movieweb. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Blanks, Brad (6 April 2011). "Warwick Davis talks Ricky Gervais, Life's Too Short and Cat Deeley, with Brad Blanks". YouTube. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Vlessing, Etan (16 June 2010). "Ricky Gervais previews next project Talks up 'Life's Too Short' at Banff TV festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "BBC to screen Ricky Gervais sitcom about life of a dwarf". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). 22 April 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "Ricky Gervais bigs up his new sitcom, 'Life's Too Short.'". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly Inc. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Warwick Davis talks working with Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant". YouTube. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "'Green-Light' from BBC". Warwick Davis. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  13. ^ "A mad session with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington". TheTelegraph.com.au. News Limited. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". Barb.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-15.  (No permanent link available. Search for relevant dates.)
  15. ^ Lee, Ben (25 November 2011). "'The Mentalist' clues in 1.5m on Channel 5". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  16. ^ Lee, Ben (2 December 2011). "'MasterChef: The Professionals' serves 2.7m on BBC Two". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  17. ^ Lee, Ben (9 December 2011). "Anna Friel's 'Without You' gets 6.3m on ITV1". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Lee, Ben (16 December 2011). "'This Is England '88' closes with 1m on Channel 4". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  19. ^ Miller, Paul (21 December 2011). "'The Only Way Is Essexmas' edges out 'Life's Too Short' in ratings". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Week one hundred and five – February 2010". Blog!. Ricky Gervais. February 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "Ricky Gervais comedy gets BBC green light". BBC News. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  22. ^ "'Life's Too Short' BBC Pilot". Warwick Davis. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "BBC greenlights Gervais sitcom 'Life's Too Short' centers on Warwick Davis". Variety (Reed Elsevier Properties Inc). 17 September 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "Broadcasting House". BBC Radio 4. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Ricky Gervais is 'The Marriage Ref' | Extra". ExtraTV.com. TTT West Coast, Inc. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  26. ^ "Beanpole funnyman Stephen Merchant hopes stand-up lines will help him bag a girlfriend". Daily Record (Trinity Mirror). 16 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  27. ^ "Birmingham comic Jo Enright's the short star with a big future". Sunday Mercury. Trinity Mirror. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  28. ^ Gill, Josh (15 March 2011). "An interview with…Shaun Williamson". Josh Gill's Blog'. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  29. ^ "Rosamund Hanson". IMDB. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  30. ^ "Kiruna Stamell". Debi Allen Associates. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  31. ^ "Jamie Dodd". IMDB. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  32. ^ "Life's Too Short: Big casting SPOILERS". Comedy Blog. BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  33. ^ "Life's Too Short Trailer". Comedy. BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  34. ^ Steve Saul (8 June 2011). "BBC Comedy hits the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011". Comedy Blog. BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  35. ^ Eames, Tom (21 December 2011). "Ricky Gervais confirms 'Life's Too Short' renewal, 'Idiot' special". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  36. ^ Blog! RickyGervais.com
  37. ^ Tarley, Rachel (15 December 2011). "Life's Too Short represents grounds for a Gervais-Merchant divorce". Metro.co.uk. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  38. ^ Butcher, David. "'Life's Too Short' In The Press...". The British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  39. ^ Mumford, Gwilym (7 December 2011). "TV highlights: 08/12/2011". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  40. ^ Epstein, Robert (27 November 2011). "Life's Too Short, BBC2, Thursday To the Manor Reborn, BBC1, Thursday". The Independent (London). Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  41. ^ "Life's Too Short: The Difficult Third Series?". WhatCulture!. Obsessed with Film Ltd. 
  42. ^ Tarley, Rachel (20 December 2011). "Life's Too Short's finale was too little, too late for Ricky Gervais fans". Metro.co.uk. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  43. ^ "Today's TV highlights". The Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group). 23 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  44. ^ Frost, Caroline (11 November 2011). "Review: Life's Too Short – Warwick Davis, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Liam Neeson". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  45. ^ Halliday, Josh (18 November 2011). "Life's Too Short sees audience shrink". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  46. ^ "Life's Too Short ratings nosedive below 1 million". The British Comedy Guide. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  47. ^ a b http://tv.uk.msn.com/what-to-watch/lifes-too-short-solid-reunion-for-val-kilmer-and-warwick-davis
  48. ^ Wollaston, Sam (1 April 2013). "Doctor Who; The Voice; Life's Too Short; The Village – TV review". The Guardian (London). 
  49. ^ http://www.thestage.co.uk/features/tv-radio/2013/04/tv-review-jonathan-creek-its-kevin-lifes-too-short/
  50. ^ "Life's Too Short – Season 1". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  51. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/life-s-too-short/
  52. ^ "Life's Too Short - Series 1 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  53. ^ "Life's Too Short - Season 1 | DVD". JB HI-FI. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  54. ^ "Life's Too Short DVD news: Announcement for Life's Too Short - The Complete 1st Season". TVShowsOnDVD.com. 2012-11-10. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 

External links[edit]