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IT’S not every day you get to see a dwarf onscreen. At the turn of the millennium, Verne Troyer played Mini-Me, the cuddly evil sidekick of Dr Evil, in the Austin Powers comedy films.
In more recent times, Peter Dinklage won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his portrayal of the cunning dwarf Tyrion Lannister in the popular 2011 TV series Game Of Thrones.
English actor Warwick Davis, played the furry Ewok named Wicket in The Return Of The Jedi.
Davis, 42, who was also the titular character in Willow (another George Lucas production in the 1980s), can be seen in a new British TV series cheekily called Life’s Too Short.
The show, which airs on Mondays at 10pm on HBO (Astro Channel 411) and HBO HD (Astro Channel 431), chronicles the everyday exploits of Davis playing a fictional version of himself.
In it he tries to survive the trials and pitfalls of being a successful actor, or so he thinks, having an extremely high opinion of himself.
Created, produced and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the series was shot as a mockumentary in the same vein as The Office and Extras.
Self-parody is the name of the game and the 1.1m-tall Davis comes off as an unbearable, down-on-his-luck faded star, who tries all manner of chicanery to jumpstart his career as Britain’s go-to little person.
Gervais and Merchant also appear as themselves, playing Davis’ assumed old mates. Both are weary of the deluded star and polite attempts at keeping him away have failed, since Davis hopes to utilise their A-list connections to aid his career.
Along the way, all sense of politically correct conduct is thrown out the window. There’s certainly no shortage of Davis getting into cringe worthy, foot-in-mouth and faux pas moments.
Those with delicate sense of humour may take offence at the slapstick nature and embarrassing stabs at Davis’ literal height and stature.
And the fact that his onscreen character is not in possession of a very likable personality doesn’t help either but Life’s Too Short thankfully doesn’t go overboard into exploitation territory.
Dwarf or not, it’s actually quite funny to see this insufferable person with delusions of grandeur taken down a peg or two — and mostly by his own doing at that — in each episode.
Most people would have come across a Davis-like character to some degree in their everyday lives, making it relatable (has anyone not had images of strangling some insufferable people at some point?). And equally entertaining are the satirical portrayals of the celebrity guest stars who play warped versions of themselves.
The first episode had the usually serious and intense actor Liam Neeson toying with the idea of doing stand-up comedy, with disastrous results.
Then there was the Johnny Depp episode where the oddball actor hired Davis to study being a dwarf for a role in an upcoming Tim Burton film.
Everything takes a turn for the worst when Davis brings Depp to meet Gervais, who had dissed Hollywood celebrities when he hosted the Golden Globes in 2011.
Gervais takes a stab at himself with Depp going on a full frontal joke assault to make fun of the British humorist to unsettling comedic effect.
Future episodes (the first season has seven 30-minute episodes) will feature the likes of Steve Carell, Sting, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Cat Deeley.
Although it doesn’t seem all that fresh anymore — since it takes its cue from previous mega-successful Gervais and Merchant mockumentary productions — Life’s Too Short is still a decent watch and much better than some of the other shows out there.
On a side note Gervais has announced earlier in the year that the show will have a second season and that Davis will star in another production of his called The Short Way Round, a spin-off of An Idiot Abroad.