September 06, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT


TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
Ricky Gervais
We gave it a B+

Derek is a fortysomething English virgin with one thing on his mind — and it’s not that. He’s a holy fool of limited intelligence who desires only to be kind. Close seconds: watching the telly, searching for cute animal videos, debating Who would win in a fight? scenarios. He spends his days helping at the Broad Hill retirement home, lavishing TLC on the frail as well as crushing on its manager, Hannah (Kerry Godliman), a bighearted workaholic. The psychology of their do-gooding invites incredulity, in a way that (knowingly?) mirrors our skepticism of writer-director-star Ricky Gervais, the acerbic satirist and mockumentarist best known for the U.K.’s Office and skewering celebrities at the Golden Globes. What are his intentions? Regret? Defensiveness? And where are the offensive jokes about old people and mental illness? With Broad Hill, Gervais creates a subversively useful thing: a subculture marked by grace that critiques aspects of the broader culture — coarseness, materialism, ”cool” — that discourage basic human decency. The dramedy’s first season (which originally aired in the U.K. last year) is alternately nuanced and maudlin, wise and sentimental. You can pick-pick-pick at it — too many metaphors, easy foils, and musical montages — but the whole is greater than the parts, and builds to a reflective, stirring conclusion that is mostly earned. Why is Derek so nice? Derek responds: Why do you care so much — and so little? B+

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