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'Derek' recap: An emotional introduction

Season 1 | Episode 1 | Aired Apr 12, 2012 (UK Channel 4)

Ricky Gervais is not known for his softer side. Whether he’s delivering smart, edgy stand-up, playing David Brent or horrifying Hollywood elite at the Golden Globes, the British funnyman always has an interesting view of the world around him. In his latest TV show, Derek, Gervais digs deep into emotional honesty and explores the life of a simple man with an extraordinary heart. And yes, there are a fair amount of laughs to be had as well.

Derek (Ricky Gervais) is a big teddy bear. One of the caretakers at a local nursing home, he’s unassuming, simple and heartbreakingly sweet. He’s the kid in recess who’d give you his lunch, even if you didn’t ask. It’s established in the pilot that his shortcomings never hold him back. Rather than being a hindrance or “handicap,” his simpleness allows him to be completely open to the cares and needs of the world around him. He’s a beautiful, dryly funny character, and one I’m looking forward to spending two seasons getting to know.

Filmed as an Office-style mockumentary, episode 1 is the big introduction where we meet the main cast of characters. First we meet Hannah (Kerry Godliman), a 30-something nurse who has dedicated most of her life to elderly care. Bound to the comfort of her residents, she’s ignored her own happiness for the sake of others. On the other side is Douglas (Karl Pilkington), the facility’s caretaker. Balding, nearsighted and worn down, Douglas has accepted his lot in life with no plans or energy to make anything else of it.

And then there’s Kev (David Earl), a near-homeless person, who lives off the government dime and spends his time lounging in the home’s day room. He’s ugly, crass and unapologetic. While everybody has his or her comedic moments, Kev is the brutal one, the problem everybody tolerates. Ever have a friend whom nobody wants around, but is accepted all the same? That’s Kev.

Like many of Gervais’ characters, Derek’s simplicity and blind honesty often causes uncomfortable situations. At one point, Derek notices Hannah glancing at Tom, the handsome son of a new arrival. When called on it, Hannah suggests Derek walk over and do a subtle sexuality check: Find out the movies and TV shows he’s into so she can do the “is he gay” math. Derek, of course, tells Tom the deadpan truth, creating a fun yet awkward moment. A subtle spark gets lit thanks to Derek’s honesty. Here’s hoping there’s a bit of lovin’ in Hannah’s immediate future.

After the tour, we get the gut punch. Derek visits his best bud, Joan, for an outing to grab a lottery ticket. Feeling under the weather, Joan asks Derek to go on without her. After a bus ride with Douglas driving — whom he annoys with constant questioning — he returns, brimming with good news. Joan is 10 pounds richer. Trouble is, she passed away while he was gone. Derek is shattered, and the scene where he apologizes at her bedside for any arguments they may have had is heartrending. The quote of the episode comes when Derek, talking about how Joan made him feel better, says, “…and she said, ‘Kindness is magic, Derek. It’s more important to be kind than to be clever or good-looking.’ “

Episode 1 does exactly what a good pilot should do: Set the tone for an entire series. Dry laughs are mixed with touching moments, peppered by a few emotional knife stabs to keep it honest. Episode 1 is an instant fishhook of delicious dramedy goodness that has “binge watch” written all over it.

And the best bit is, it’s Netflix. No need to wait a week for episode 2.

The Three Star Moments of Episode 1

The Gleefully Charming Moment: In his whirlwind tour of the nursing home, Derek shares his favorite thing: a YouTube video called “Hamster on a Piano.” If his childlike wonder at a rodent eating popcorn on a keyboard doesn’t make you smile, check your heartbeat. You may be dead and not even know it, Bruce Willis-style.

The Unexpected Tear-Up Moment: Douglas, in a fit of frustration, is complaining about the old and “knackered” in the complex. Joan has asked him to fix a smashed picture, and rather than mend something “she won’t even remember,” he tosses it in the garbage. Derek finds out and scolds him, saying, “But what if you was old and somebody said, ‘Don’t bother with him, he’s a hundred?’ I’d save you. I don’t care how old you was.” Another example of Derek’s uncluttered view of the world. If someone needs help, you give it. End of story.

The “F**k Yeah!” Moment: Hannah and Derek are sitting in the pub when a group of barflies starts making bitchy comments at his expense. Hannah quickly suggests to Derek that they leave and heads toward the exit. But before they do so, Hannah gets Derek out of sight, walks up to the leader of the group and delivers a solid headbutt. Hannah had already mentioned her short temper, and this simple moment cements the “big sister” relationship she has with Derek. That, and it’s always awesome to watch jerks get bitch-slapped.

Derek is now available on Netflix.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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