Photo Credit : HBO
The head that launched a thousand podcasts returns to HBO in cartoon form for a second season. I don’t refer to Ricky Gervais, best known for creating The Office (the original British series) and Extras, but rather to his pet project, Karl Pilkington.
By : SHAWNA BENSON
The head that launched a thousand podcasts returns to HBO in cartoon form for a second season. I don’t refer to Ricky Gervais, best known for creating The Office (the original British series) and Extras, but rather to his pet project, Karl Pilkington. For those who don’t know the history of this particular Gervais production, a little back story.
Back when Ricky was a DJ on XFM radio, co-hosting a show with his friend and creative collaborator Stephen Merchant, Karl served as their radio engineer. At first they would bounce questions to Karl, just to get his reactions, but were surprised when Karl very often came up with answers that walked the fine line between profound and stupid. Unsure whether they were dealing with a savant or just an idiot, they started using Karl more and more for their shows. Thus were born the podcasts which Ricky and Steven recorded with Karl as a “series of pointless conversations.” The podcasts were incredibly popular when released, and to now have some of the best moments envisioned with animation is a stroke of brilliance. Season one covered a lot of the big themes for these discussions with Karl – his fascination with insects, ridiculous monkey news (mostly untrue) and various ways people should be reincarnated.
Photo Credit : HBO
The second season kicks off with a gem of a discussion as Karl recounts a movie pitch he gave some producers. Karl’s would be film is so amazingly stupid that there’s actually something genius about it. With the animation to accompany the story, we now get to see what this epic tale would look like, and it leaves you wishing for a sequel. The first season of “The Ricky Gervais Show” set the standard for how the cartoon versions of these three would look, but here in the second season, the animation has become more sophisticated in the storytelling. There’s something about the style of the animation that is reminiscent of “Ren & Stimpy” at times, though that’s probably because half of what Karl imagines is so unreal it requires some very esoteric animation to bring it to life.
Karl’s observations of the world around him make Gervais laugh…a lot. Ricky’s unrestrained laughter as Stephen reads from Karl’s diary or as Karl attempts to explain why we don’t need half of the animal kingdom is infectious and prolific. Ricky seems to laugh as much at his and Stephen’s interpretations of Karl’s statements as he does at Karl himself. Either way, there’s reason for the laughter, and with the animation to bring to life some of the thoughts in Karl’s head, we can all laugh too.
Gervais and Merchant have said that they’d like to keep doing this show as long as HBO will have it, and are ready and willing to produce more conversations with Karl to provide more content for the show. Given how they can turn the most mundane topics into comedic brilliance, we are assured of having more of Karl’s genius to entertain us for quite some time. This, remarkably, is a godsend.
Season Two of “The Ricky Gervais Show” premieres Friday, January 14 at 9 PM ET on HBO.