It’s no big secret that I enjoy Extras, and found my way to it through the first episode of the second season, which included a guest appearance by Orlando Bloom (of Pirates of the Caribbean lore). And now that I’ve seen the first season, and rabidly followed the second season on HBO, while it’s a bummer to see Extras fade away after a dozen episodes, and just like The Office, it’s not going to soon forgotten.
Both shows were written and directed by Ricky Gerva…s and Stephen Merchant, and it’s clear that the duo have the “uncomfortable hilarity” down pat. And to put the second season in context with the other half dozen episodes, where Andy (Gervais) wrote a script for a comedy show that managed to get attention and notoriety from the BBC. The show has begun filming and developed a rabid following. However, much to Andy’s dismay, the show is devoid of his creativity and is the furthest thing from original. And as it’s shown in a glance that Andy shares with his friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen, Ugly Betty), who is an extra herself, which speaks volumes in how much Andy might detest his newfound fame.
But the funny part with fame is that you run into a different group of people, those that have their own insecurities that are worth looking at now (as opposed to Season One, where they were viewed somewhat peripherally). And Andy’s bumbling agent (Merchant) manages to book him into the unlikeliest of opportunities, like that one with the boy magician Halle Berry (who is actually Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter fame in a hilarious cameo). And Andy finds that the glare of the celebrity spotlight is unpleasant as he deals with the press and public while still trying to be himself. In said episode with Radcliffe, he also manages to insult a boy with Down’s Syndrome, and kicks Warwick Davis (of Willow fame) unconscious during a fight.
Now it’s probably garnering universal regret that Extras has gone away, but it’s probably better this way. The guest stars in Season Two are elevated in fame and stature (among them are Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Sir Ian McKellen, David Bowie, along with the aforementioned, who play parts in Andy’s life or television series. And that’s excluding a “mystery guest” on the last episode. But if the show lasted longer, it’s clear that the celebrities who came on would be playing transparent parodies of themselves. And at the end of the series, we’re left to answer the question; does Andy make it big on his terms? I’d like to think so, but it’s clear he’d have to do it in spite of everyone around him, including himself, and who wants that anyway?
You’re going to get this BBC comedy show in 16:9 and you’re going to like it mister! The picture is perfectly fine and without any real distraction.
Just like last season’s, the two channel stereo mix is fine, doesn’t do much surround or panning effects and sounds as clear as it’s going to get.
Forgetting for a second how the supplements were on Season One, these on Season Two are actually a bit better. The season’s six episodes are split over two discs, and both have outtakes relevant to the episodes on them. For whatever reason they don’t seem as funny to me as in Season One, and that’s not because of the infectious Gervais chuckle. There is a look at the production with interviews from the cast and guest stars covering each episode. You can play the backstage material on each episode, and all of the footage is about a half hour. “The Art of Corpsing” explains when someone has the chuckles in a scene that takes up extended periods of time to complete. One scene where Barry (Shaun Williamson) walks in on Andy, who’s caught his agent Darren “tossing off” to a pen of a naked lady took almost two hours to complete due to the aforementioned corpsing. It’s basically a transparent piece (I think) to show off more bloopers, but also shows how loose and funny things can be on set. “Taping Nigel” is a look at the torture that Gervais inflicts on his editor Nigel Williams. You’ll laugh at him in a cage, but the intricacies of “Breakfast Boy” also make you wonder why he’d subject himself to such abuse.
Extras took an excellent premise from its first season and made sure to branch into newer territory with more recognizable and noteworthy faces. The humor is infectious and the extras aren’t too shabby, despite the continued lack of commentaries on this stuff (I guess the Gervais/Merchant/Karl Pilkington podcasts are enough for the time being). Worth at the very least a rental, but something tells me you’ll wind up liking it, the interaction between Gervais and Merchant is too funny not to purchase this.
Special Features List
- Making of Featurettes
- Deleted Scenes