DVD review: The Ricky Gervais Show (Season 3) by Lawrence Smith

It’s a wonder people still call this series The Ricky Gervais Show when the focus of the programme has always been Karl Pilkington.

Since its TV debut in 2010, HBO’s animated series has helped introduce the former radio producer to a wider audience of Americans and Brits, as well as visually explore his bizarre but fascinating imagination.

It’s a shame this may be the final series but HBO have saved the best of these ‘pointless conversations’ for last.

As usual, Karl, Ricky and Steve (Merchant) cover a range of topics and ask Karl his opinion with hysterically funny results.

Highlights involve Karl talking about his brother’s exploits in the army, his views on health and safety culture and his irritation with slugs behaving badly.

Karl also pitches a second movie idea, this time for a film starring Tom Cruise. It’s even madder than his previous one, which was supposed to star an actor he thought was called ‘Clive Warren’ .

There’s a fair amount of role playing too, as Karl, Ricky and Steve improvise with each other in increasingly strange scenarios that include Karl playing the parts of a hostage negotiator and a soldier’s wife in the second world war.

One stand-out episode focuses on Karl’s typical day at home, which is as hilariously mundane as one might imagine.

In fact, it’s the show’s focus ordinary events that elevate it above other animated programmes. Animation is the perfect medium for capturing the surreal quality of Karl’s flights of fancy, but it’s even more effective at portraying the reality of three men talking nonsense in a room.

The podcast trio all laugh, think and get frustrated in ways that are visually realistic and it’s clear that the animators have spent a lot of time adding small, but delightful movements and expressions to the characters to make them behave convincingly.

At the beginning of the series the animators even play with the programme’s standard opening sequence, creating a scene that highlights some backstage problems with chairs and microphones.

This TV show may lack the spontaneity of the original podcasts, but it’s a real treat for animation enthusiasts.