Gervais showed up to talk about and defend "Derek," a series that's already drawn some negative attention for its depiction of the mentally disabled even before its pilot aired in the U.K. back in April. Gervais plays the title character, a naive, childlike and not terribly bright man who works in a home for the elderly alongside his friend and roommate Dougie (Karl Pilkington, star of Gervais' "An Idiot Abroad"). It's a series that tries to showcase a more sincere side of Gervais, something he addressed at TCA: "I put the pilot out to let people know what it was like because there were so many assumptions out there. 'It was cruel.' I think that follows you around. The risk in my work is being misunderstood. “Derek" -- it’s the first time I remember feeling this excited and proud of a project since the original 'Office.'
Gervais claimed he'd had the character of Derek in his mind for about 10 to 12 years, but didn't know where to place him -- "It just clicked one day that he should be in an old people’s home. About six of my family are carers either for the elderly or Alzheimer's sufferers or people with problems, halfway houses, that sort of thing. And I've always written about what I know.
"I’ve got the swipes at fame and all of those things out of my system, I think, and now it's about the things that really matter." "Derek" does not yet have a U.S. premiere date set.
The series, which is set in a decrepit former Pennsylvania steel town that's recently become home to a biotech company, presents reworkings of classic horror characters, from werewolves to mad scientists. But while, as McGreevy put it, "there’s no shortage of monsters on the show," the theme is more "the question [of] what separates a human from a monster." "The conception behind the novel and also the series," he added later, "was that it was going to be a character drama first, and then the genre elements were just going to be a metaphor for these people’s internal states."
As is the case for "Arrested Development," the Netflix platform has allowed the producers of "Hemlock Grove" to deviate from more conventional TV storytelling. McGreevy explained that "One of the reasons why Netflix was so attractive to us was because we knew that they had this straight through series model. When we were looking at the architecture of the overall season, on one hand, when you're trying to get a pilot sold, you approach story differently than you would when you’re looking at the entire thing as essentially a 13-hour movie adaptation of a novel.
"That being said, the hope is that there are wildly interesting things happening on a regular basis."