RICKY GERVAIS: OUT OF ENGLAND 2 - THE STAND-UP SPECIAL. 10 p.m. Saturday, HBO.
THE ENGLISH have let Ricky Gervais out again.
Not only is the creator of "The Office" - the ruder (and much shorter-lived) British original - hosting the Golden Globes Jan. 16 for the second consecutive year, but he's back on HBO Saturday with a follow-up to his Emmy-nominated 2008 special.
If you saw the first and have fully recovered, it's unlikely anything in "Ricky Gervais Out of England 2: The Stand-Up Special" will shock you.
Though it might trigger uncomfortable fits of the giggles (particularly uncomfortable if there are other people in the room who aren't giggling along).
But if you weren't upset two years ago by Gervais' ruminations on AIDS and monkeys, sex and public toilets and a variety of other subjects that all eventually returned to the subject of the comic's penis, then why would you be bothered by anything he has to say about fat people (he thinks they eat too much), termites, Noah, gay marriage or pedophilia?
And yet Gervais, who insists more than once that he never apologizes for whatever lines he crosses, is nevertheless inclined to explain himself.
Sometimes it's part of the joke: "I can talk about Africa like that," he says (after referring to the starving people there as "out of sight, out of mind"), "because I'm from Britain - and we used to own it."
Sometimes, though, it really does feel like an explanation.
"There's nothing you shouldn't joke about," he says. "It depends what the joke is."
The line he won't cross? "I wouldn't tell a sick joke to a known pedophile."
For what it's worth, I think he might actually be serious there.
There's an underlying sweetness to Gervais (could it be those still-chubby cheeks?) that undercuts a lot of what otherwise might come across as meanness. But, then, truly mean people generally aren't this funny.
Still, I continue to prefer Gervais in smaller doses, or, better yet, sprinkled throughout the absurdity that is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual bash on NBC.
On CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" Monday, the comic talked about playing pranks with his siblings at their mother's funeral. You can watch a clip at: http://www.cbs.com/
late_night/late_show and learn more about why Gervais is funny than you'll glean from 75 minutes on HBO.
There's a lot more talking than there is action in the premiere of the new documentary series, "The Peacemaker: L.A. Gang Wars," which premieres tonight at 10 on A&E.
Maybe that's a good thing.
Executive-produced by Ice-T ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), whose press-kit biography notes that he "not only invented gangster rap, he has lived it," "The Peacemaker" focuses on gang mediator (and middle-school teacher) Malik Spellman, who's made it his mission to try to keep the members of gangs in South Central Los Angeles from killing one another.
He describes himself as having at one point been "a victim of the judicial system" who, after getting free, decided to do what he could to prevent "the killing of our young people." Spellman said that he got involved in mediation "by the way of losing friends."
In tonight's episode, he'll be trying to prevent retaliation for the killing of a gang member's pregnant girlfriend, a job that like any mediator's, seems to involve a certain amount of kissing up to both sides.
It's the middle-aged men in charge of rival groups of Crips, though, who make the biggest impression as they work with Spellman to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
Says one, who's been shot a dozen times (and spent a dozen years in prison): "It's easy for me to push a button and say, 'war,' but I can't do that and expect to live throughout this life."
Mandy Patinkin could be headed back to TV.
The actor and singer, who's as known for his exits as his entrances - he left both CBS' "Criminal Minds" and "Chicago Hope" earlier than expected - will co-star with Claire Danes in "Homeland," a pilot for Showtime from the producers of "24" that's being filmed next month, according to the cable network.
In the show, said to be loosely based on an Israeli series titled "Prisoners of War," Patinkin will play a CIA division chief whom Danes' character works for as she tries to untangle a possible al Qaeda conspiracy.
Not sure how many opportunities that'll offer for Patinkin to break into song, but perhaps "Glee" has opened the door for a musical spy drama? *