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Life's Too Short: solid reunion for Val Kilmer and Warwick Davis
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Val Kilmer in Life's Too Short. Image. BBC
Hour-long special of the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant mockumentary that divided critical opinion.
It stars Warwick Davis as the useless manager of a showbiz talent agency for fellow dwarfs and this time, he's joined by Val Kilmer. Yes, that Val Kilmer. Also along for the ride are Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson (Barry from EastEnders).
There was a surprising number of funny moments over this hour, but what delighted me most was seeing clueless Cheggers, dour Shaun, and depressed Les make an unqualified success of their pub cabaret act. Their scenes captured a genuine sense of boozy, risqué, late-night fun.
I wasn't keen on a sketch-like sequence with ridiculous guru Bryan Medici (Being Human's Colin Hoult), who was tasked with whipping Z-listers Keith Chegwin, Shaun Williamson and Les Dennis into showbiz shape.
I didn't particularly like Life's Too Short when it aired in late 2011, so I didn't expect to enjoy this special episode (potentially) concluding the show.
However, against expectations, this Easter special was one of Life's Too Short's better episodes and provided enough laughs and fun to please most viewers.
"This Easter special was one of Life's Too Short's better episodes"
It hasn't made me reconsider the weak and dawdling first series in hindsight, but it felt like an improved pilot that fixed a few problems.
It helped that the two entwined storylines were both of good quality. In the first, Val Kilmer - like Warwick Davis, playing a fictionalised version of himself - was reacquainted with his erstwhile Willow co-star.
He led him to believe a sequel to the cult 1988 fantasy movie would be possible if development costs of £5,000 could be raised.
Warwick Davis was also enjoying surprise success with an all-star fun-time cabaret show starring showbiz bottom feeders Keith Chegwin, Shaun Williamson and Les Dennis.
Is Warwick's life about to change with a lucrative role in a big Hollywood sequel, and a cut of the money for an ITV2 deal with his unlikely cabaret act?
The hapless trio of Keith Chegwin, Shaun Williamson and Les Dennis proved they were game for a laugh.
Not only did they send themselves up in a most humiliating manner, poor Cheggers had to go all Naked Jungle on us. They were easily the funniest thing about Life's Too Short.
A decent ending?
A couple of elements elevated this special above most episodes of the 2011 series: the greater focus on Warwick Davis' character and softening of his personality certainly helped.
What did you think of Life's Too Short's Easter special?
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- 86 %It was very good
- It was rubbish
He was seen being caring and selfless a good deal of the time.
In addition, there was the wise decision to scale back on the celebrity cameos that often overshadowed the vehicle itself.
Val Kilmer, for example, only had three scenes (two of which recycled the gag that nobody recognises his Batman scowl), but Gervais and Merchant's appearance didn't feel like the obvious crutch they were last time.
In fact, their scene halfway through this special wasn't even close to being the best thing about the hour. And that's as it should be because it felt like the story was treating Warwick seriously at last.
What's more, he was only asked to fall over the once.
The only residual issue is the strange decision to have a comedy about a talent agent specialising in dwarf actors, only to have said dwarf actors relegated to very minor roles.
Was this show's life too short? Maybe. But if this is indeed the end it was a decent swansong for a malformed comedy.
- Verdict: There was progress here, but maybe it's too little too late.
What other reviewers said
Metro - "To be fair, there were laughs to be had here, mainly from the antics of Williamson, Chegwin and Dennis."
What people on Twitter said
@NickdeSemlyen - "Val Kilmer a very good sport in Life's Too Short special. Lots of fat jokes."
@OscarTollast - "Val Kilmer is brilliant in the latest Life's too Short."
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