After Life (from Ricky Gervais) Episodes 4 to 6 [9/10]

After Life” is, I have decided after storming though to the end, laughing and crying at the same time, Ricky Gervais at his best. Both his writing and acting struck me as flawless. At the end of the first half of the series, I wondered if the enjoyable start could sustain what seemed like a hokey plot, but from Episode 4, the series takes off. All the tropes – grieving Tony’s hapless colleagues, the gormless citizens queuing up to hit the headlines, the mushy friends trying to help – clarify, sharpen, and deepen. If I chuckled during the first three episodes, towards the end I found myself roaring with laughter. And what of the overt sentimentality and the inevitable ending? Gervais handles them masterfully – the pathos and triumph resolve as moving rather than gooey. All the supporting actors are impressive, but kudos especially to Tom Basden as Tony’s brother-in-law (and boss) and Tony Way as slouchy colleague Lenny. Feel-good series rarely work for me but this is a wonderful exception.

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