‘After Life’ review: Ricky Gervais brings his bittersweet comedy about grief to an end with its third season

Gervais’ Wrinkle is to define the dangerous nature of the protagonist’s plight – trapped as he is in an endless cycle of mourning his wife’s death, and watching old videos clinging to those memories – with a far-flung comedy of a very successful person – misses the variety. As a human affairs reporter for the local newspaper, his character Tony meets all kinds of eccentric people, listens to their weird stories until he can’t stand any more, at which point he points out his photographer (Tony Way) to “take a picture” and outsmarts the strategic retreat.

The time Tony spends learning about other people’s lives obscures his inability to find peace within his own, after putting himself within arm’s length of Emma (Ashley Jensen), the nurse he met while caring for his late father, who at first seemed an obvious bridge back Its to embrace live.

Questions surrounding this relationship, and the direction it will take, arise again in Season 3, but no more than Tony’s interactions with his brother-in-law Matt (Tom Basden), one of Tony’s few lifelines to the world, and who understandably laments his tendency to attack those around him.

Season three (Gervais’ previous shows stopped at two years old) isn’t quite headed toward the end, but the six-episode episode finally hits one, which should be enough incentive to dictate Gervais to over-race. However, “After Life” still feels like one of Gervais’ less successful solo efforts, due in part to the natural limitations that heartbreak-soaked comedy has to overcome.

Gervais makes up for that by being just plain weird, especially in the network of supportive players. However, in a way, the most satisfying relationship on the show becomes the comfort that Tony finds in interacting with his dog, who should really qualify for some kind of Emmy special dog.

In keeping with Gervais’ well-documented reputation as a provocateur, After Life impressively refused to accept greeting card answers to the issue of surviving a loss. But in the final analysis, the whole show never progressed beyond the initial appeal of its hypothesis.

And with that, says Tony, take a picture.

After Life begins its third and final season on January 14th on Netflix.


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