Extras: Season 2 (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 6 x Epiosde Featurettes; Taping Nigel 2; The Art Of Corpsing; Outtakes.
IF THE first season of Extras proved there was life after The Office for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, then Extras: Season 2 confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are contemporary comedy geniuses.
The second season surpassed the achievements of the first series by being more consistently laugh-out-loud funny and continuing to attract the highest calibre of guests.
In series one Extras brought to life the mundane tedium of the life of Andy Millman (Gervais), a desperate man who’d been an actor for five years but who had never done any acting thanks to his useless agent (Merchant).
Instead, he was forced to spend his days as a lowly film extra, walking around in the background while the stars did their lines (celebrities including Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Samuel L Jackson).
All that changes in series two, however, when Andy’s script for When the Whistle Blows is produced by the BBC and put in front of a mainstream audience.
Despite his burgeoning success, though, Andy is still surrounded by the usual cast of idiots: his hapless best friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen), his incompetent agent Darren Lamb (Merchant) and ‘Barry off EastEnders’ (Shaun Williamson).
What’s more, his dreams of finding artistic credibility are continually thwarted by the obstacles placed before him, while his own shortcomings as a human being are ruthlessly exposed.
Extras: Series 2 works on so many levels. Gervais is a master of the cringe-inducing comedy situation and continues to place Millman at the centre of some truly excruciating situations.
While the roll call of celebrities willing to send themselves up for an appearance on the show continues to get better and better.
Season two saw Orlando Bloom playing a self-obsessed womaniser whose repeated attempts to hit on Maggie fell on deaf ears; Daniel Radcliffe playing a cocky actor who was equally desperate to use his condom with Maggie; David Bowie singing an anti-Andy song in a crowded VIP bar; Sir Ian McKellen trying to coax Millman into a gay kiss in a stage production, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin attempting to use a charity photo shoot to shamelessly promote the Coldplay Greatest Hits album.
There was also the hilarious site of Richard Briers losing his cool with Andy at a Bafta award ceremony, Robery Lindsay losing his temper when a sick child failed to appreciate his celebrity, Jonathan Ross larking about with Millman following an appearance on his chat show, and Keith Chegwin attempting to play it straight in Andy’s comedy show.
And last but not least, the site of Robert De Niro (no less) being impressed by a striptease pen.
Such moments are pure comedy gold and nothing short of genius. But its a tribute to the consistently high quality of Gervais and Merchant’s writing that they are able to attract such a long queue of celebrities wanting to work with them, as well as to keep audiences rooting for their own characters.
No matter how obnoxious Andy becomes at times, there’s still a part of him that’s worth caring about. He’s all too human; often painfully so. And his expressions are priceless.
The only shame is that season two lasts only six episodes – but then I guess we shouldn’t expect too much of a good thing.