The Ricky Gervais comedy “Derek” is the latest original offering from the online programming provider Netflix. The new 30-minute comedy-drama series surrounding the life of a gentle and humorously tragic man who loves his job working at a retirement home debuted this morning. All seven episodes in the first season are available now to subscribers.
Netflix is building up a strong reputation for original programming from the much heralded “House of Cards” to the eagerly anticipated new season of “Arrested Development.” Top names in TV and film are shifting to the online service because of the freedom they are being given to bring their visions to life.
That was the big attraction for Gervais to do the show for Netflix instead of a more traditional program provider. The last time he had such creative liberties was with his movie “The Invention of Lying.” The reason he wants control is because he’s seen too many series and movie that have failed because the vision of the creator gets beaten out of the program by an executive or committees.
“If you keep looking at the stats and keep wondering about what makes it in a certain area, you are always going to keep coming up with the same thing. That’s why there’s the same rom-coms that come out every three weeks. They are the same. They are the same plot,” Gervais says. “If you keep force feeding people white bread, then they are not going to like brown bread. But if they taste something different, they’ll like it.
“There’s 7 billion people on this planet. If you find that you do exactly your set of ideas and values, there’s going to be enough people to go, ‘I’ve never seen that before. That’s my favorite thing.’”
Gervais has shown from his innovative TV series, “The Office,” to a much talked about stint as the host of the Golden Globe telecast, that he has some very different views on the world. Like him or not, Gervais isn’t going to offer up something that has been rehashed and try to call it original.
The shift to the Internet provider doesn’t mean Gervais is leaving TV or film behind. It’s just a continuation of his embracing the computer world that he’s done for years.
“I was one of the first people to do a high-profile podcast ten years ago and we didn’t know what was going to happen. I did it for fun. I did it to be in a room with Karl Pilkington, and I wanted to put it out there,” Gervais says. “I just left the radio show because I was doing ‘The Office.’ I loved doing the radio show, but I thought, ‘Now I can do it when I want.’ You can upload it. It was global, which is very exciting.
“The most exciting thing for me about the Internet is that it’s global. I like the fact that you can do anything like. It’s up to your own reality that dictates what’s tasteful and what isn’t. So that excites me. It excites me that the podcasts have been downloaded 300 million times. That’s me. I didn’t go to a broadcaster. I didn’t have to put my hand up in an executive meeting.”
And, he’ll get to keep doing the series his own way as a second season of “Derek” was ordered before the first season was made available to the public.