Gervais’ method of two seasons and out (plus a follow-up particular) labored nicely sufficient for the unique “The Workplace” and “Extras.” However his filmography has been extra uneven of late, with “After Life” very a lot in step with the writer-producer-star’s outspoken atheism and darker, if not irredeemable view of life.
As a quick recap, the primary season discovered Gervais’ Tony sleepwalking by his days after his beloved spouse died of most cancers, consoling himself by watching previous movies and residential motion pictures, with a devoted canine (Eho’s a superb lady? You’re) as a companion.
By the top, Tony’s outlook had brightened, exhibiting traces of generosity towards coworkers on the native newspaper the place he grudgingly churned out human-interest tales, and discovering a possible new romance within the nurse, Emma (Ashley Jensen, splendid as at all times), taking care of his dementia-stricken dad (David Bradley).
The brand new season, nevertheless, finds Tony backsliding, once more wallowing in grief to the purpose of endangering his relationship with Emma, who understandably struggles along with his conduct. This continues, notably, regardless of the recommendation that Tony appears intent on ignoring from his cemetery pal Anne (Penelope Wilton), who chides him to not mess issues up.
In probably the most uncomfortable real-life echo, the aforementioned newspaper is struggling financially — at a second when that business is painfully unraveling — posing an extra problem to Tony’s boss and brother-in-law, Matt (Tom Basden), whose marriage is falling aside at the same time as he presides over the paper’s woes.
From there, although, Gervais retains veering into the semi-absurd, with over-the-top subplots comparable to Matt’s periods with an abusively self-absorbed therapist, who spends far more time speaking about himself; and Tony’s weird mail provider (Joe Wilkinson), who would not respect typical boundaries.
Granted, Gervais’ materials has at all times oscillated between the poignant and outlandishly quirky characters, and as his Golden Globe internet hosting stints recommend, he has embraced being a provocateur. That stated, the gags do not feel almost as contemporary as, say, the first-season bit that concerned Tony hiring a prostitute (Roisin Conaty) as a result of he was too listless to wash his flat.
Conceptually, it is laborious to not admire the audacity of constructing what’s ostensibly a comedy round crippling despair, that includes a protagonist who finds no consolation from faith or any of the same old balms used to offer consolation and ease such ache.
Even so, the steadiness feels a bit off on this newest go-round. And whereas “After Life” ultimately reaches a comparatively satisfying place, the present meanders — misplaced in a form of narrative purgatory — longer than it ought to in getting there.
“After Life” begins its second season April 24 on Netflix.