Life’s Too Short: The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the comedy team behind the Golden Globe-winning BBC series “The Office” and acclaimed HBO series “Extras” and “The Ricky Gervais Show”, bring another series to television with “Life’s Too Short”.  Starring actor Warwick Davis (Willow) as a fictionalized version of himself, the series takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the travails of a little person who’s big on ego and a little short on everything else.   Shot faux-documentary style, “Life’s Too Short” gleefully charts Davis’s every move as he tries to jump-start his waning career by opening his doors to a reality TV film crew while trying to maintain his pride and self-respect in a series of uncomfortable, often-humiliating situations. Along the way, he seeks advice from his old pals Gervais and Merchant (playing versions of themselves) in hopes that their A-list celebrity connections including Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Sting, Helena Bonham Carter, Steve Carell, Cat Deely (who all cameo) will aid his career.


After their huge successes of “The Office” (both versions) and “Extras”, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have returned with a new show that follows the fake documentary format of their first triumph.  This time, their show is centered on the life and trials of a dwarf named Warwick Davis who just happens to be played by the real Warwick Davis.  As it turns out, while appearing on “Extras”, Davis regaled Gervais and Merchant with tales of the challenges he faced as a dwarf, such as having to use a mop handle to get items off of store shelves, or people touching him for luck as if he was a leprechaun. His stories sparked their imagination and Gervais and Merchant had found the idea for their next show.

It was a fairly easy proposition as Davis had plenty of good stories and his unique history would offer plenty of other fodder for the show.  Just like in real life, Davis on the show is an actor who has appeared in Return of the Jedi and the Harry Potter films and he runs a talent agency for dwarfs.  There are some changes however, as the fictionalized Davis is an arrogant, jealous, conniving little bastard.  When he’s not stealing incoming jobs from the other dwarfs he is supposed to be representing, he’s badgering Gervais and Merchant (appearing as themselves) for work.  While loitering in their office, Davis gets a chance to interact with several big stars including Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Sting, and Steve Carell.

When he’s not trying to weasel into some kind of job, Davis spends the rest of his time trying to do damage control on his personal life.  His wife is divorcing him after he left her because he thought he could do better, and his lawyer/accountant screwed up his taxes so much that Davis is seriously in debt.  Desperate to make some money, Davis even attends sci-fi conventions to cash in on his ties to the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises, which of course also ends in disaster. To make matters worse, he gets himself even further into debt trying to take control of an association for dwarfs.  And then there’s his dating life which he manages to screw up as well.  Not that any of this fazes him, which is part of the charm of the show, as Davis goes from one calamity to another, oblivious to the destruction that he is wreaking on people around him and to himself.

Having been a fan of Gervais’ and Merchant’s earlier work, I was pretty sure that I would enjoy the show and I was correct. This is a very funny show that keeps to their traditional no punches pulled humor that doesn’t believe in sacred cows. Sure, there’s plenty of jokes about Davis being short, but they’re funny because of the situation, not because they are making fun of his height.  What I didn’t expect was the fact that Warwick Davis is not only a very funny actor, but he’s also a fantastic physical comedian.  He does several falls and stunts that are executed flawlessly and to great effect.  Watching him have a hissy fit after accidentally destroying his washing machine and then keep slipping on the ground had me laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe.

And as good as Davis is, he is ably supported by not only Gervais and Merchant, but also the A-list talent that showed up ready to play.  From Liam Neeson’s dead serious declaration that he was going to be a stand up comedian who only wants to joke about having AIDS, to Johnny Depp making Davis do outrageous things like doing the “Riverdance”or being flushed in the toilet for his “acting research”, they are all fantastic in their brief cameos.  Davis fights Sting during a charity auction and Steve Carell shows up on Skype and thanks to Gervais’ rude treatment of him after he thinks their call has been disconnected, he decides not to return to the American version of “The Office.”  This show just came together beautifully and it’s too bad that they aren’t going to make a second series like originally planned.  Instead, we will get a Christmas special that will wrap up all of the story-lines which I will be eagerly waiting for.


This transfer offers some decent picture quality but it’s nowhere near as good as it would look on Blu-ray.  For some reason, although the United Kingdom was able to get this show on Blu-ray, in the United States it’s only available on DVD which I think is a mistake.  There’s no shortage of Gervais fans here so it probably would have sold well if given the chance. In any case, this looks clean but it lacks the sharpness and clarity of high definition.  For a DVD it’s not a bad transfer although there are a few aliasing issues that pop up now and again.  Colors are decent as are the black levels and flesh tones.  Once you accept that this isn’t in 1080p resolution, you can relax and still enjoy the show.


Life’s Too Short’s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix fares a little better than the video quality as it more than meets the demands of a show like this.  Dialogue is clear and intelligible which is always good when trying to understand English accents when the actors are speaking quickly.  The music and sound effects are well balanced with the rest of the mix and never drown out the dialogue.  While this mix is nowhere near reference quality, it does clearly deliver the jokes well which is all it really needs to do.


  • The Making of ‘Life’s Too Short – This featurette runs almost thirty minutes and it gives us a general overview of the making of the show.  There’s a lot of clips and comments from the main cast and of course from Gervais and Merchant.  They talk about why they did the show and offer their thoughts about the cool guest starts too.

  • Deleted scenes – We get a collection of funny deleted They begin with a  scenes starting with an extra bit with Liam Neeson appropriating a funny story from Gervais only to mangle it in a hilarious fashion.  We also get an extra bit from the sci-fi convention that includes an appearance from  Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor Who), and lastly an extended version of Davis trying to get a recommendation from Gervais and Merchant.  All of them are very funny so I’m guessing that they were cut for time.
  • Outtakes – This is almost five minutes of the cast messing up which is also pretty funny.


Life’s Too Short is a funny and irreverent comedy that should appeal to most people as long as they are not easily offended.  Warwick Davis does a fantastic job lampooning himself and his physical comedy is a highlight of the show along with it’s impressive guest stars.  This DVD offers some decent video and audio quality but I wish this had been released on Blu-ray in this country like it was in Britain.  The extras are pretty good but I was hoping for more of them.  All in all, this series is an easy one to recommend to anyone that’s looking for some laughs!

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