The Playlist

Review: 'Hello Ladies' Season 1, Starring Stephen Merchant

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 18, 2013 12:07 PM
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  • 18 Comments
While the fate of Stephen Merchant's "Hello Ladies" remains in the hands of HBO who have yet to renew the show, it's easy to see why they got in business the with comedian/actor/writer/director in the first place. He's a longtime collaborator with Ricky Gervais, and the pair already have had two underrated shows hit the network — "Life's Too Short" and the animated "Ricky Gervais Show" — and given their track records ("The Office," "Extras") it doesn't seem to be too much of a risk to see what Merchant can cook up on his own. And on the face of it, a comedy about a single Englishman living in Los Angeles trying to find love is ripe with possibility. But as I wrote in my preview of the series in September after watching the first two episodes sent to press, the result was "cartoonish and empty" and little has changed with the season one wrapping up last night. (Obviously, spoilers ahead).

Preview: Stephen Merchant's Uneven, Unfunny HBO Comedy 'Hello Ladies'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 28, 2013 4:36 PM
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  • 10 Comments
After working together as writers, producers and stars of TV hits "The Office," "Extras," the underrated "Life's Too Short" and "An Idiot Abroad," the undeniably, comedically potent duo of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant has decided to split up for their latest TV ventures. Earlier this month, Netflix debuted "Derek," the latest from Gervais, while this weekend comes "Hello Ladies," produced, written, directed and starring Merchant, with assists in all departments from Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (who helped make the U.S. port of "The Office" a success). Yet, despite a track record of success and the necessary ingredients for another hit, "Hello Ladies" is a surprisingly and disappointingly uneven effort, completely absent of the craft and precision of Merchant's previous efforts.

Review: 'I Give It A Year' Starring Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Stephen Merchant, Anna Faris & Minnie Driver

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 6, 2013 7:00 PM
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  • 6 Comments
There's a certain amount of winky irreverence built into "I Give It a Year," based on its title alone, which is something that people snarl, usually at the weddings of people who they feel are fundamentally incompatible. The title suggests that, while it might appear to be a bouncy romantic comedy, it has some seriously acidic undertones. This sensation is solidified once you know that Dan Mazer, one of Sacha Baron Cohen's confederates and a co-writer on both "Borat" and "Bruno," wrote and directed "I Give It a Year." Maybe it's the "Cabin in the Woods" of romantic comedies – something that simultaneously deconstructs the genre while celebrating it (and ultimately elevating it to the next plateau). Unfortunately, "I Give It a Year" is a woefully inept, unfunny, unsexy romantic comedy that falls into all the pitfalls and familiar genre tropes that it willingly tries to avoid.

Review: 'Life's Too Short' Gives A Bittersweet Ending To An Overlooked Series

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 5, 2013 11:40 AM
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  • 2 Comments
After Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's groundbreaking "The Office," followed by the equally well received "Extras," it seemed that audiences began to cool on that particular brand of comedy. Rooted in vain, unlikeable, ambitious and curiously sympathetic characters, it's not clear where public opinion went, but "Life's Too Short" certainly deserved a better reception than it got.

SXSW Review: 'I Give It A Year' Is A Woefully Inept Deconstruction Of Romantic Comedies

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 15, 2013 8:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments
There's a certain amount of winky irreverence built into "I Give It A Year," based on its title alone, which is something that people snarl, usually at the weddings of people who they feel are fundamentally incompatible. The title suggests that, while it might appear to be a bouncy romantic comedy, it has some seriously acidic undertones. This sensation is solidified once you know that Dan Mazer, one of Sacha Baron Cohen's confederates and a co-writer on both "Borat" and "Bruno," wrote and directed "I Give It A Year." Maybe it's the "Cabin in the Woods" of romantic comedies – something that simultaneously deconstructs the genre while celebrating it (and ultimately elevating it to the next plateau). Unfortunately, "I Give It A Year" is a woefully inept, unfunny, unsexy romantic comedy that falls into all the pitfalls and clichés that it willingly tries to avoid.

Watch: ‘I Give It A Year’ Premieres Today In U.K.; Teases U.S. With 3 More Clips

  • By Tess Hofmann
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  • February 8, 2013 10:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
“I Give It A Year” drops today in the U.K., and while U.S. distribution still hasn’t been secured, the rom-com’s SXSW stateside premiere in March should guarantee that someone picks it up. Witha cast of US-friendly faces including Rose Byrne, Anna Faris, Minnie Driver and Simon Baker, plus one of the most seriously promising rom-com trailers of its genre in years -- it seems like a no brainer. But on the off chance that a U.S. release is delayed, we can probably just piece together the teasers that keep coming out and get something close to a feature film.

Watch: 2 Clips From 'I Give It A Year' Highlight Unsuccessful Attempts At Romance

  • By India Ross
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  • January 31, 2013 11:23 AM
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  • 1 Comment
There is a Richard Curtis-shaped hole in British comedy. After "Love, Actually" – and to a lesser extent, 'Bridget Jones 2,' and the best-forgotten "The Boat That Rocked" – the genre has been somewhat adrift, and as we wait to see if "About Time" will return him to his former glory, there are some other efforts on the way that will potentially fill the void.

Watch: Stephen Merchant's Awkward Best Man Speech In Clip From 'I Give It A Year'

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • January 16, 2013 12:18 PM
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  • 2 Comments
It may not have a U.S. release date yet (or even a distributor for that matter) but we’re still looking forward to the British rom-com “I Give It A Year.” The film is Dan Mazer’s first as director (after a string of writing credits on Sacha Baron Cohen’s TV shows and movies) and stars Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne as a couple exploring the trials and tribulations that occur during their first year of marriage. The cast also boasts Anna Faris, Simon Baker, Jason Flemyng, Minnie Driver and - as you’ll see from the following clip – Stephen Merchant.

Watch: Trailer For 'I Give It A Year' With Rose Byrne & Rafe Spall Promises A Rare Decent Rom-Com

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 21, 2012 11:45 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Perhaps no genre of film has as low a rate of return as the romantic comedy. Even horror films have the occasional subversive festival gem to prop up fan interest every so often, but serious fans of the rom-com are reduced to getting their jollies from the amiable, but botched likes of "Crazy Stupid Love" and "The Five-Year Engagement," films which are no great shakes, but look like masterpieces compared to stuff like "Something Borrowed" and "New Years Eve," that makes up most of the films of this type. We're a long way from "When Harry Met Sally," or even "Bridget Jones' Diary."

Watch: Third Season Announcement Trailer For 'Luther'; 'Wilfred' Also Gets Renewed For Another Season

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 2, 2012 2:38 PM
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  • 1 Comment
...and just like that, out of the dark, "Luther" fans have some very, very good news. Idris Elba and the show are back. As for Ruth Wilson and Alice? You'll just have to wait and see.

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