TRAGEDY and COMEDY: Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones,” left) and Warwick Davis (“Life’s Too Short”) have ’em covered for HBO. (Photos: HBO)
By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, April 1, 2012 — Who else but your humble TV Howl correspondent would notice that, as one dwarf actor leaves the “stage” at HBO, another arrives to take his place?
The two little people in question: Warwick Davis — 42, 3’6″ star of “Life’s Too Short,” the seven-episode comedy from Ricky Gervais that ended its first season last Sunday on HBO; and Peter Dinklage, also 42, 4’5″ star of “Game of Thrones,” the drama about warring factions in something resembling England in the Middle Ages that returns for its second season this Sunday night (April 1) on HBO.
Why point out this unique and no doubt coincidental “changing of the guard” (as it were)? No reason except that it gives me a chance to give “Life’s Too Short” some ink here. And, to a lesser extent, “Game of Thrones” too.
I have no idea how many people tuned in for all seven episodes of “Life’s Too Short,” but I did and I loved every jaw-dropping moment of it. This show was so “wrong” in its political incorrectness that I found myself wondering if Gervais had merely proposed it to HBO almost as a joke to see if they would say yes, simply because the folks at HBO like being in business with him.
And then the joke was on him because they did say yes. So he and Stephen Merchant then had to actually produce this thing. What they made was a “reality” spoof that had Davis starring as himself in a mock documentary about his life as a dwarf actor who had appeared in a number of movies with famous titles (parts of “Star Wars” and the “Harry Potter” series, to name two of them).
But in the show, he was seen struggling to find work despite those credits, while also trying to make his way in a world configured for bigger people. If you missed this show, you missed incredible cameo appearances by Liam Neeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Sting (especially him) and Johnny Depp (especially him too). (What are you waiting for? Go watch it on On Demand.)
And you missed Warwick — a dwarf, mind you, who’s making fun of what it’s like to be a dwarf — doing the kind of slapstick, physical comedy that hasn’t been seen since the silent era: Stumbling out of his SUV, climbing a bookcase to reach a trophy in one unforgettable scene, falling backward in his chair onto the floor of a restaurant and taking the tablecloth and dishes with him.
Much of “Life’s Too Short” was so painful to watch that you just sat there and thought, How on earth are they getting away with this? In the season’s final scene, Warwick, penniless and homeless, was seen bunking in a friend’s dresser drawer. I can’t wait for season two — if there is one.
Meanwhile, along comes Dinklage, who steals every scene in which he appears in “Game of Thrones.” I’m a latecomer to this baffling, sprawling series about various factions of warriors and their kings who are all maneuvering into clashes with one another like some giant chess game.
But in the season premiere airing Sunday — which I got to see in advance the other day — Dinklage emerged as the most riveting character in the whole thing. And that’s saying a lot because this is the kind of series that’s well-populated with serious actors — the kind of people whose bearing and voices suggest some sort of classical training on the British stage.
Not Dinklage, though. He’s from New Jersey.
OK, so HBO has two dwarf actors appearing in consecutive series. Does this mean anything? How should I know?
Contact Adam Buckman: firstname.lastname@example.org