There is something inherently hilarious about watching Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant torture their dim-witted friend Karl Pilkington. The running mockery started on Gervais's podcasts, which were eventually animated and turned into HBO's 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' and then gloriously continued with 'An Idiot Abroad.'
The premise of the show is simple and delightful. Gervais and Merchant send Pilkington, the polar opposite of someone you might call a worldly man, on a series of adventures to distant, exotic lands. In Season 1, which scored record-high ratings for the Science Channel, Karl traveled to the 7 Wonders of the World, struggling with the food, local language and customs every step of the way.
In the trailer for 'An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List', we see Karl looking at a list of 100 Things To Do Before You Die, lamenting that he has to tackle any of them. "If I was on my deathbed, there's no way I'd want to be climbing Kilimanjaro," he says.
"It's not things to do a few minutes before you die, it's things to do in your life," retorts Gervais, chuckling.
Check out the trailer after the jump.
According to Deadline, the Oprah Winfrey–fronted network has ordered six new episodes each of 'Ask Oprah's All Stars,' 'Enough Already! With Peter Walsh' and 'In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman.' Viewers can also look forward to eight new episodes of 'Oprah Presents: Master Class.'
Joining OWN's lineup is 'Confronting ...,' 'I Owe You My Life,' 'Louie Spence Dance Project,' 'My Mom and Me,' 'Sweetie Pies' and 'Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal.'
The new unscripted shows run the gambit from dramatic to cute.
'Confronting ...' follows the mediation process between a victim and offender, and 'I Owe You My Life' tells the stories of everyday heroes. Look for campy dance antics on 'Louie Spence Dance Project' and an examination of mother-daughter relationships in 'My Mom and Me.' Former Ike Turner backup singer Robbie Montgomery and her soul food restaurant are the subject of 'Sweetie Pies,' a reality dramedy. Over on the other side of the spectrum is 'Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal,' which will tell the story of couples who have survived infidelities.
In other TV news ...
• Science Channel has given 'An Idiot Abroad' a season 2. Look for Karl Pilkington to tackle a bucket list during his world travels in season 2. [TV Guide]
• 'Big Love' star Jeanne Tripplehorn and Patricia Clarkson have joined Lifetime's 'Project Five.' The anthology series about breast cancer has celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore on board to direct. Tripplehorn will play an oncologist and appear in all five short films. [Deadline]
HBO announced today that it has renewed the animated 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' which features the voices of Gervais and friends Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, for a third season.
'The Ricky Gervais Show' airs Friday nights at 9PM ET, and will conclude its second season next week. The series is based on The Ricky Gervais Podcast, which passed the 300-million-download mark last month, according to HBO.
Thing is, they forget (yeah, right) to give him any advance notice of said schooling. Steve explains over voicemail, "There'll be a team of people who'll just jump out at you at some point when you least expect it."
The message is too late: Karl's already been kidnapped. They tackle him, cover his face and drag him into the back of an SUV, shouting and hitting him the entire time. He has no idea of the set-up, and the poor guy thinks he's actually being kidnapped. Let's hope Karl's "friends" are making such exploitation monetarily worth his while.
Thus it was a near genius idea when they approached British network Sky 1 to film a travel show with Pilkington at the center. Actually, it was Gervais and Merchant's idea. Pilkington, a proud homebody with no interest in the world outside his town, had to be talked into it.
Thus, 'An Idiot Abroad' (Sat., 10PM on Science) was born.
When I asked Stephen Merchant if he helped his friend and writing partner Ricky Gervais with some of the scathing jokes he said on the Golden Globes awardcast last week, he acknolwedged that he did, but "I'm not going to take any credit for anything, because I want to work in Hollywood again," he said with a nervous laugh.
Seriously, though, Merchant wonders why there's been so much hubub about Gervais' jokes. "If you can't make jokes about movie stars, I don't know who you can make jokes about," he told me yesterday. "It just seems like they are a perfectly legitimate, fun target, because they have won. They've won the lottery of life. They're the best looking, they're the richest, they're the most privileged. And generally speaking, in my experience, they can laugh at themselves."
Merchant and Gervais have a lot going on at the moment. In addition to their individual projects, they've got two projects on the air that revolve around their friend and podcast partner Karl Pilkington. There's the second season of HBO's 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' which started last week, which contains clips from the trio's famous podcasts rendered as cartoons.
Then there is 'An Idiot Abroad,' debuting Saturday at 10PM ET/PT on the Science Channel. In the documentary series, Pilkington is sent to exotic locations to see how a simple man from England with "interesting" observations deals with different cultures.
It's really a different kind of show, the type of show that has to be on cable, on a channel like HBO (or Comedy Central). You certainly can't picture it on CBS, in a comedy block between 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' and 'Gary Unmarried.' I love how an animated Gervais looks like Fred Flintstone's brother.
'The Ricky Gervais Show' (Sun., 9PM ET on HBO) has jumped out of the podcast world and into the animated HBO world. Somehow, seeing these funny guys as cartoon characters is not the least bit odd. We've sort of thought of them that way all along. We're just glad they've finally owned up to their true calling.
For more on the show and his many projects, check out our interview with Gervais.
Watch the video after the jump.
Anyone who's listened to Ricky Gervais' podcasts or audiobooks knows that a) Karl Pilkington is an idiot and that b) Gervais and Stephen Merchant have made their fascination over Pilkington into gut-clutching comedy.
Why was the podcast so funny (and popular)? Because Pilkington just said stuff that was completely off-the-wall in such a straight-faced, matter-of-fact way, like when he talked about a time in history when "cavemen and dinosaurs were knocking about." These nonchalant statements made Gervais and Merchant -- especially Gervais -- convulse with laughter, which emphasized just how ridiculous Pilkington's statements really were.
So the challenge to Gervais and Merchant: How do you bring the twisted "genius" of Pilkington to television? Animation, of course! The result, 'The Ricky Gervais Show,' which premieres on HBO Friday at 9PM ET (you can register and watch the first full episode here), brings the podcast to life in a way that will satisfy both fans of the podcast and those who are hearing Ricky, Stephen and Karl for the first time.
Gervais' answers about the show and the Globes during his TCA session on Thursday were largely similar to what he told Nick during the conference call earlier in the month. But I just loved his infectious laugh when he was talking about Karl. He wants to make Karl famous just to tick the shy guy off, and because the show is being taken from the existing podcast recordings, the version of Karl you hear is the unvarnished one.
So, at the end of the reporters' scrum, I asked Gervais what Pilkington-ism makes him laugh the hardest. He and Merchant had some pretty funny responses:
"I want to host it a little bit more like someone from the Rat Pack would host it," he says. "You know, just off the cuff and just playing the room and having fun with the people and roasting a few of the A-listers and hopefully it'll be fun for the room and the people at home."
"I do want people to have the feeling that anything can happen," he adds. "I want to be reactive so I don't want to just go out there and read an alter cue and do a very staid joke and have that sort of polite sort of titter."
The world's most successful podcast is getting the television treatment next year starting on February 13.
So how do you turn a podcast into a TV show? That's simple. You animate it. Episodes of the podcast featuring Gervais, Stephen Merchant and the aforementioned Pilkington will be turned into cartoon creatures for the TV version. I came to the podcast very late in life and am sure that will count against me at my karma hearing in the afterlife, but this should more than make up for it.
- The entire Sunday summer lineup: Entourage, True Blood, and Hung will be coming back next summer.
- They've ordered an animated series from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant based on their podcasts with the ever-entertaining Karl Pilkington.
- On a third season of Flight of the Conchords: "We're ready when they're ready."
- The pilot of Boardwalk Empire, directed by Martin Scorsese, has been delivered to HBO. It will be picked up based on what they see. They like what they see so far.
- No more Little Britain USA, but they are working with the producers to create specials with all-new characters.
More coming. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for the latest updates.
But, even with all that going against him, he holds a share of the Guinness Book of World Records title for most popular podcast with Gervais and Stephen Merchant -- and he's about to star in a new animated series on HBO.
According to Variety, The Office creator will bring The Ricky Gervais Show to TV in a series of 13 animated half-hour episodes. In audio form, the Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington formula features Gervais throwing a vast variety of topics at the intellectually challenged Pilkington to see what sense he can make of them.
There were more than 8 million downloads of The Ricky Gervais Show podcast. The first twelve episodes were free and the second twelve had a fee. In typical Gervais fashion, he says of one of his co-hosts, "Karl never has to work again and I believe that maybe he won't."
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