TV REVIEW: 'Derek' - Karl Pilkington The Saving Grace With His Stoicism Over Ricky Gervais's Tireless Goodliness

'Derek's second episode found a young lady sent to carry out her community service, and the residents joining together to celebrate Derek's 50th birthday.

Ricky Gervais used only a few broad brushstrokes to paint Vicky as a disaffected youth of today, all pout, petulance and horror at changing bedsheets. Her interests were 'Kardashians' and 'Twitter' (where RG himself happily hangs out). However, saintly Hannah just decided “she's all right, just had no role models” and in the space of 13 quick minutes, our Vicky was a smiling model of compassion, after an epiphany of nail varnish bonding with one twinkly resident.

Karl Pilkington was the saving grace of this episode of 'Derek'

Similarly, Derek's celebrations passed by in a blur, with birthday boy getting inevitably sozzled on cake and lager, while the residents around him stepped straight out 'Cocoon' and danced the night away, just like their former selves (cue black and white footage of youth in action, just in case we missed it, and some piano music so we knew to feel sad).

Patronising to the audience, patronising to the elderly characters AND the actors playing them... cartoons have been less under-written than this. And when you think of what levels of subtlety the yellow shapes of 'The Simpsons' manage to achieve (a show on which Gervais himself has even guested), this second episode of 'Derek' seemed... unambitious.

And that was before Derek started doing his own special disco dance. Just like David Brent... the dance that Gervais swore to a Live8 audience in 2005 he would never perform again. But we're not meant to laugh at this one... right? We laugh WITH Derek, yes? Especially when he confides about his interactions with atrocious Kev, “I pretend I don't get jokes because it really annoys him.” Looks like there's more to that Derek than meets the eye, people.

Once again, Karl Pilkington triumphed by taking handyman Dougie's lines and making them his own. When he drove everyone to the library where “some of them don't even get a book”, his stoic stupefaction was moving and far more effective than being beaten over the head with Derek's goodliness.

Even better was the tireless distraction of his tonsured hair, of which even he reflected, “What I find fascinating is how it's never come into fashion, when you think of the things that have come and gone.”

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