THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"THE RICKY GERVAIS SHOW: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON"
There's an interesting phenomenon that occurs whenever three friends get together: two of them inevitably team up to mock the third. This is essentially the premise behind The Ricky Gervais Show, which aired on HBO and now comes to DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. Comic genius Ricky Gervais and frequent collaborator Stephen Merchant have been hosting a podcast for a few years now. The third member of the team, Karl Pilkington, is frequently the target of their amused mockery. (His "perfectly round head" is a common source of derision.) For the TV series, these podcasts have been animated, so that we see not only the men talking in the studio, but also hilarious visualizations of whatever they're discussing.
To understand what makes the show funny, you need to understand something about Karl Pilkington. He is the ultimate straight-man. Armed with an endless assortment of half-formed opinions and incorrect facts, he is apparently unable to recognize his own absurdities. Gervais and Merchant, on the other hand, are sharp comic observers who take great delight in picking apart whatever their friend says. For example, in one episode Pilkington suggests (with great seriousness) that the original NASA chimps were probably furious with Neil Armstrong for getting all the credit for space travel. In another, he wonders why antique stores exist, because he can't imagine anyone ever wanting to own anything old. And you haven't heard anything until you've heard him dissect the meaning of the expression "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." The comedy in the series comes from the way Gervais and Merchant react to the absurd things Pilkington says, then begin to logically deconstruct his arguments - all the while failing to make him see the light.
The Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete First Season continually made me laugh so hard that my eyes watered. The conversations are funny, but the animated representations of them take things to a sublime level, providing flights of fancy that mimic Karl Pilkington's unique worldview. The 2-disc set contains every episode from the show's debut season (317 minutes in total!) as well as episode storyboards and more. If you're a Ricky Gervais fan - and I'm a major one - this show will make you laugh yourself silly.