Extras (TV Series 2005–2007) Poster


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First episode is highly promising
Super_Fu_Manchu21 July 2005
Gervais had a big task on his hands with this project- The Office has now entered into comedy history, and people had very high hopes for his follow-up. The documentary style has been ditched, and Gervais has given his character just a little more dignity than he gave David Brent, so the comedy is a little less squeamish. The changes in direction and style are daring and pay off- the show doesn't feel like a desperate follow up or imitation of The Office. In fact, it's highly original.

It's a pitch black satire, which follows the efforts of Gervais's character as he attempts to progress from being an extra to actually getting a real acting job, or at least a line. The shows also charts his female friend's unsuccessful love-life, his deadpan agent and parodies a celebrity every week. This week it was the turn of Ben Stiller, who was mocked as an evil dictator of a man, who constantly reminds those around him of the box office of his movies and insists that kissing Cameron Diaz "still counts", even though it was for a movie. Stiller is a good sport for joining in, and has fun messing with his image.

Overall the show is gently paced, well written and shows extremely high potential for character study. Definitely one to watch.

STILLER: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!? GERVAIS: Starsky or Hutch- I can never remember. STILLER: Was that supposed to be funny? GERVAIS: You were in it- you tell me.
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Pure Comedic Gold from Ricky Gervaise
Marcus Eden-Ellis28 August 2005
Every so often, England hits the comedic mark and creates a benchmark to which all else must aspire; Monthy Python, Dad's Army, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses and, of course, the simply faultless "The Office". The writing team of Gervais and Merchant crafted in that series some of the most achingly funny and desperately well observed depictions of the human condition ever committed to film. "The Office" struck a particular chord with me because I have spent most of my adult life in sales and they nailed the highs and lows of that career brilliantly.

Moving on then to their new offering; "Extras", I am happy to report that the observational skills have not deserted them. This time the central character (Andy Millman) is again played by Ricky Gervais, only, unlike his David Brent character, Millman is astute, caring and worth the time of day. Unforutnately, like Brent, he is also trapped in a spiral of underachievement.

Andy Millman is an film extra, a background artiste, who aspires to a real acting role and the central theme of each episode is his quest for a "line" in each film in which he appears in the background. Along side him is his (seemingly) only friend, a frustrated thirty something woman, Maggie Jacobs (superbly played by Ashley Jensen), whose sole aim seems to be to find a husband / longterm partner. Add into this mix a chronically crap agent (Merchant himself), a nemesis in the shape of another extra who seems to be getting lines and a liberal sprinkling of cameoing "A" list guest stars and you have a wonderful platform on which to build a spankingly funny series.

And wow... do they hit a home run! Every second of each episode is deliciously funny and acutely observed. Highlights to look out for are the Ben Stiller/Dodgeball opening weekend grosses scene - the Golly scene in Maggie's apartment - the "Are you really a Catholic scene" and, above anything you will have ever seen in a TV comedy, the entire Les Dennis episode.

Les Dennis will be lost on Americans but for those of us who have followed his plunging career, you can only weep for this superbly written and judged performance. Pathos doesn't even begin to cover it.

Also, anyone who can look at Kate Winslet again without thinking of that "phone sex" scene is a better man than me.

Please, please, watch "Extras". It may, for some, be an acquired taste but once you have that taste, its like a piece of Swiss chocolate - exquisite.

And no laugh track either - yay England.
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Comical drama
boboncel6 August 2008
I think the genre of the movie is not clear to all... This is FAR from your normal comedy. It's borderline dramatic. You'll get to gigel and even laugh yourself to tears but the genius of the show doesn't lie here. It's the awkward moments and the depressing ones that make this show like no other.

I find myself sometimes wishing that Andy would find a new best friend, a new agent or at least a small break but the awkward comedy that follows always leaves me wanting for more, wanting to see how much he can take before he breaks.

The sadness that sometimes appears in Andy's eyes reminds us of all the unfortunes we had to go through in our lives. But he stands strong and so do we, just waiting to "have a laugh".

The ending fits perfectly with the theme of the show. "Tea for the Tillerman" offers a strangely thin comfort until the next time it will play, maybe under somewhat better circumstances (witch never really happens). I really think there is no better show to watch after a hard day at work. It always leaves you satisfied. So chin up Andy and do the magic that you do and maybe one day it will all be worth it!
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Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant do it again
Superunknovvn18 March 2006
"Extras" is another comedic highlight from the men who thought up "The Office". One might think that the success of their previous show put too much pressure on them to come up with a new project as brilliant and hilarious, but they pulled it off. "Extras" is every bit as funny "The Office". The humour is actually very similar with people talking themselves into uncomfortable situations all the time. I think that it's the new setting that turned off a lot of people who have written negative reviews. "The Office" gave us regular guys and something to identify with. A dead end job in a dead end town, gray routine and idiotic colleagues. To laugh about this all too realistic situation had a curative effect on audiences all around the world. With "Extras" it's different. I'm sure that this show is close to reality, too, but only the fewest people have ever worked as extras and can put themselves into the shoes of struggling actors Andy Millman and Maggie Jacobs. If you just accept that this show isn't "The Office" anymore and that there's no Gareth, Tim or Dawn, you'll find out that "Extras" has a lot to offer, too.

Every episode starts with a dramatic scene in Hollywood-style that's dismantled after a moment with someone yelling "cut" or Andy Millman's face popping up in the picture. Each episode also has a different guest star. With the success of "The Office" Gervais and Merchant (who plays a regular part in this series as well) managed to gather some big names for this project. Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart all make very amusing cameos, but it's the British local heroes who really steal the show.

With only 6 episodes (so far) the first season ended way too quickly and I already long for the second series. This show still has lots of different ways to go. Hopefully Gervais and Merchant will explore the private lives of Maggie and Andy more as they did with the characters of "The Office" in the second series. Right now it seems as if everything those two brilliant guys touch turns to gold and I hope this streak of luck continues for a while.
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Oh So Brilliant!
Bones Eijnar27 August 2008
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant is the peerless comedy-duo whose brilliant eye for comedy and drama surprised and shocked the world a few years ago with the Award-winning The Office, who later transformed itself into one of TV-comedy-history's most memorable and successful series. This is their Difficult Second Album, and its such a fantastic volume two of their already stunning career. Gervais takes the role as Andy Millman, a pretty straight-forward everyday man whose situation finds him seeking for more to life as he and his friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) both work as extras, or supporting artists if you like, and Merchant takes a supporting character as Darren Lamb, his literally useless agent.

Extras is such a fantastic show in every aspect, and the transaction between comedy and drama is purely class, the way you'll find the celebrity-parts (oh, it's just Patrick Stewart, Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, David Bowie and Robert De Niro to mention some) egoism and embarrassing self-awareness adds realism to it, and it's sort of every fan's nightmare to see their favorite actor/actress act themselves into embarrassing situations. 'Extras' is something very few artists can pull off, it's a follow-up that adds depth to something already brilliant by not only making the funny bits even more subtle and the gags even more layered, but adding emotional resonance with outstanding pace. 'Extras' can't really be compared with the Office, it's worth more in its own right and it's downright one of the most incredible shows of all time.
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A testament to one of the world's most brilliant comic minds
morphion222 September 2006
What is it about irony that tickles us so? In some ways it reminds me of films that I find delightful in their atrocity: "Doom", "DOA", "Snakes on a Plane" are some recent prime examples of Goodness By Antithesis; films that are so brazenly and proudly bad that you have to like them. Irony, as we like to see it, is similar in that it is Humor By Antithesis: situations and events that are so mundanely tragic, so cringe-making and excruciating that we just have to laugh. It is a bizarre logic, it's a twisted logic, but it's also worth noting that it's a line so fine that only the cleverest and subtlest of writers can really make it work. America's Larry David is one. England's Ricky Gervais is the other.

In creating a follow-up series to "The Office", Gervais risked destroying a damn-near flawless career. It's hard to imagine there wasn't a niggling in his ear telling him to quit while he was ahead. What would really be the harm in letting the world remember him as David Brent? Apart from the nature of the character, the real harm in this would have been that to deny us Andy Millman would be to deny himself status as one of the world's most brilliant comic minds. "Extras" doesn't just further establish Gervais' incredible comedy prowess, it deepens it.

On the surface, the series patiently shows us the mundane and rather fruitless life of a working film Extra, Millman (Gervais), who fancies himself a "real actor" but has never gotten any real acting work. He bitches about this to his friend, confidant and fellow Extra Maggie (Ashley Jensen), who also shares her problems with him. Deep down, however, "Extras" is a deliciously satirical look at the ambitions of the human heart, the ironic overthrow of those ambitions and the emotional chaos of breaking the unspoken rules of society (such as 'Don't Lie To A Catholic Priest About Your Nonexistent Catholicism', and 'Don't Tell Your Best Friend's Colleague That Your Best Friend Said He Was "Too Gay"').

Other reviews have called "Extras" a watered down "Office", and I think this is a fair observation, but not at all a bad thing. After all, despite sequential order "Seinfeld" is much more diluted than "Curb Your Enthusiasm", but the former is still a far superior show. Not that any inferiority between Gervais' shows is being inferred, of course. Where "Extras" is softer than "The Office" is not in humor, or intelligence, merely in character. Andy is really quite a nice guy; insensitive at times, but only in a mild, charming kind of way. Your pity for him is genuine, and not the result of a deeper emotion such as bewilderment or frustration.

The David Brents of "Extras" are not Gervais at all but the transient side characters, and often (brilliantly, fantastically) the celebrity cameos. In short, and this is said with no inflation whatsoever, Celebrity Cameos as a film/television device has its worth made and sold in "Extras". We thought we'd seen self-parody work before. We were wrong. The sheer reckless abandon with which Gervais and the gallant celebrity meat send themselves up (and up and up) practically creates fireworks. Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart are not only the draw cards but the dazzling high lights. They are forever heroes in my eyes.

Maybe it's this ultimate irony that galvanizes "Extras"' brilliance: the celebrity personalities who live the life Andy dreams of reveal themselves exclusively to him as being petty, irresponsible, greedy, insensitive, sexually perverted megalomaniacs, while he, the nobody Extra, cops all sorts of cosmic flack for, mostly, trying to do the right thing. Naturally, this kind of thing borders on cruel, but just before we begin to feel bad for laughing at his hopeless misfortune he lets us know it's alright by cracking a smile himself, telling a joke to Maggie and shaking it off. Then Cat Stevens washes us clean with "Tea for the Tillerman". Yes sir, Ricky Gervais knows how to make it work.
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Give it a chance, it has all the makings of a potential classic...
Gloobey25 July 2005
It seems odd that the knives are being sharpened so quickly - one episode and, for some, it's all over bar the lynching. What price comedic success, eh…? Like everybody, I thought The Office was pure comedy gold. The premise was so strong that even the US offering couldn't fail. So, this time up, what has Ricky Gervais got for us? Well, more of the same only different. 'Extras' is in the same mould as The Office, there are those cringe worthy moments that we've all grown to love and expect...but there's a clever twist on the formula. The Gervaise character isn't the butt of all of the jokes this time around. Sure, the scene in the trailer with the crying eastern European reminded one of the fake sacking of Dawn and the scene towards the end at the party with the racial slurs was pure Brent, but more often than not Andy was observer and rye commentator on what was going on around him. This would simply have been beyond David Brent's self obsessed nature.

All in all, 'Extras' has what it takes and I await the next episode with great anticipation.
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Why do people insist on comparing this with The Office??????
mrfixit42629 July 2005
Almost every review I have read on here today contains the words "The Office." Why can people not offer their thoughts on the quality of this programme as a stand alone piece? Ricky Gervais plays a different guy in completely different surroundings. He is limited as an actor (by his own admission) which is why some people have commented that it feels like they are watching David Brent. Gervais does not have the range to bring a completely new character to the screen and in effect plays variations of himself. It has a brand new cast supplemented by guest stars parodying themselves. Hats off to Ross Kemp last night, although Vinnie Jones stunk up the place a bit during his scene. This is a great concept which has been well written (so far) and I'm sure will grow into a firm favourite with regular viewers. Please give this a chance, it could be another classic.
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Sometimes laugh-out-loud funny
peter-151511 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I notice that the DVD of the first series is not available on Amazon, but it is here in Hong Kong and being an avid fan of the office and Ricky Gervais live, I bought it straight away.

I must say, I'm not disappointed. It took a while to forget Gervais' Office character, David Brent, but when you do, look at him as "Andy" in this series and note that he's got a little more worldly wisdom than Brent, at the same time as being somewhat up himself as was Brent (here, in his constant reference to himself as a "real actor"). In all, though sufficiently different to be a new character - Andy, seeking through the series, that one line of dialogue that will make him the "real actor" that he continually claims he is.

His friend "Maggie" (Ashley Jensen) is wonderful, with a lovely accent and great comedic timing.

There were some real laugh-out-loud moments (for me, at least): Ben Stiller explaining why he's directing his movie, which appears to be a drama about a Balkan state: with references to all his comedic hits, is a great self-send up.

The scene where Andy advises Maggie on how to work up an excuse *before* someone asks you to a party you don't want to go to -- explaining that you need to say "your sister's coming to visit; you're gutted, but sorry you can't make it", then coaching her through it when the invitation duly comes -- priceless and very funny.

All the scenes of Kate Winslett suggesting to Maggie ways in which she could talk dirty on the phone with her boyfriend are simply wonderful.

There's another scene in the graveyard, with the "Dullard" in which Andy is pretending that a Jewish woman's grave, who died in 1953, is his mother's grave, making him "at least 52". Maggie helps him along.

All of the scenes with his hopeless "Agent" (Co-writer Stephen Merchant) are giggle-along funny, and worth a re-watch.

I enjoyed the series, and have watched parts of it twice or more, always the mark of good comedy.

I wonder what they will do for the "guest stars" in future? I hope they have lots more up their sleeves.

PF Hong Kong
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The Humor of Mean Hitting its Stride
J. Wellington Peevis23 January 2007
The absolute hilarious look at show business as seen through the eyes of a couple of Waiting for Godot type scene extras. With each episode, Extras has gained momentum like a cartoon snowball.

You can call me crazy, but Ricky Gervais has merely channeled Carroll O'Connor's ghost, and made it his very own. The Gervais Merchant brand of humor likewise is more Norm Lear than anything else. We get the laughs from racial, ethnic, etc. punch-lined jokes because we are really laughing at the ignorance, insensitivity and gross stupidity of the joke teller, who is in the end, the ultimate joke. Every sacred cow topic or taboo joke in the book is conjured triumphantly on this show, and I sit and laugh I mean really laugh, right along with everyone else out there. Borat utilized the same principle. Unlike Borat however, Gervais and Merchant don't go overboard and falsely portray positive stereotypes. That lack of hypocrisy is what makes this show and The Office before it, far superior to Ali G, Borat and company. Make The Office and Extras a top priority in your viewing.
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Better than I expected
Chris Moores22 July 2005
After The Office and the superb Christmas Special, Extras had a lot to follow. Once I'd got over the newness (to me at least) of the other key actors, and the shock of seeing Ben Stiller playing himself as such a horrible person, I really liked it. The "Herman Munster" bit with the guy with the club foot had me laughing despite how cringe-worthy it was. Ricky's character is easy to sympathise with and the level of "shallowness" seems just right to me. However, on the BBC on Thursday, Extras is followed by Catherine Tate and Absolute Power with Stephen Fry, and both of these were on a par with Extras. That's 90 minutes of 1st class TV entertainment, lucky us!
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LOL good fun...Much better than the office
oh_lala6 December 2006
Firstly here's the deal i'm one of the very few people who absolutely hated the office it was stupid and silly, and personally i didn't get it anyway this isn't about the office who cares people...let go and stop talking about (yes i do realise i was hypocrite there but we all are at one stage in our life's) I watched Extra thinking this is going to be Lame...but i laughed my socks off and even peed a little (too much info?) it classic, and it a comedy that i don't think tries to hard, its very much effortless and the performances for the star guest and the rest of the cast is very good (Kate Winslet was my personal favourite) watch this show its great but go in with a open mind and forget the office if your going to compare watch that instead
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The voiceless world of an Extra
In light of The Office's brilliance, our expectations are high for Gervais's new show, Extras. Gervais plays a struggling "little 43 year old" actor, who has for the past five years given his shot at acting. And failed. Desperate for even one line, the first show sees Gervais emotionally blackmailing a traumatised foreigner upon whose life actor Ben Stiller is making a film for a line in the movie.

Extras follows a very similar humour scheme to The Office, however, the flow of the script is raised slightly from the mundane, taking on a distinctly more energetic, punchline-based style...though this is neatly attributed to differing speech and humour types of each character. The awkward faux pas and stunned silences that made The Office classic are revitalised for Extras, played out in a relatively fresh manner. Unfortunately, a bit too much of the Office's material seems recycled for Extras. A strong element of David Brent is emitted from Ben Stiller, re varnished only with more arrogance and superiority. Stiller's climactic rant, chilled with a shocked silence from the crowd, in both style and camera-work is almost identical to Brent's at the end of Episode 2,04. Miscellaneous other lines seem vaguely re-iterated versions of lines from The Office, too strong to simply be classified as a reference. But having seen only episode 1 of Extras, it is difficult to compare it to the chain-success of The Office.

In conclusion, Extras seems liked a toned down form of the Office. While audience all over England could effortlessly relate to the mundane, soul-destroying atmosphere of Wernham Hogg, Extras shows us a world many of us are unfamiliar with, placing viewers in a position of spectator-ship, rather than immersing them in the world. Which is ironic, given that The Office followed a fly-on-the-wall approach, and Extras is shot in a standard sitcom/drama format. In spite of perhaps the ever-so excessive repetition of The Office's humour, Extras is still a fabulous watch, and it's inability to stand up to The Office (no mean feat!), does not prevent it from being a great new refreshing comedy that won't be easily forgotten; soaring past recent sitcoms such as My Family and My Hero.

All that remains is to see how the rest of the series fares. 8/10
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Possibly darker than The Office!
Mark-138422 July 2005
Based on 1st episode only, so, you know...

First episodes of sitcoms are notorious for being rubbish; characters need to be introduced, motivations understood and laughs usually come later. Extras is a lot more of a trad. sitcom than 'The Office', but I detected potential for a lot of (dark) drama as well as comedy - including pathos and bathos, and possibly some other things ending in athos.

This episode had several laugh out loud scenes, with exquisite dialogue. The set-pieces are there, like 'The Office', and work very well, even though we're just getting to know the characters. Ben Stiller is *very* good as the self obsessed star director. I expect it's just good acting.

Gervais' character is a witty, clever-ish guy, who is, none the less, a loser. His friend Maggie shows potential as another grotesque creation; she just cannot hide her gut reaction to people and situations, so often puts her foot in it. A sort of Godber figure then, counselled by Gervais' Fletcher. I suppose that makes Ben Stiller Mr MacKay? I may have taken the Porridge parallels too far.

Thoroughly recommended.
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Season 1: A funny, awkward comedy that never gets close to The Office but is still funny and starry
bob the moo8 September 2005
Andy Millman and his friend Maggie Jacobs are both professional extras – "actors" who fill the backgrounds in film and television productions. Maggie seems happy with this but Andy always hopes for more; however his attempts at getting a "proper" acting job have yet to get him anywhere. Although they spend their days surrounded by stars, their lives are both much less interesting and they find more awkwardness than anything else whether they are dealing with Hollywood actors, partners, agents, TV stars or other extras.

Following on from The Office was never going to be an easy task and it was no surprise to find that this series has elements of the latter's strength but never manages to get as good. The series is quite episodic and fragmented without a great deal of development across the series. Each episode is essentially a comedy of human awkwardness with a different guest star each week. As such it is funny but never gets close to the painful human condition that The Office did so well – however it still manages to be quite funny. The awkwardness is funny and cringeworthy but it isn't convincingly "real" and is obviously structured to just be an episode rather than be about the characters.

Supporting this is the guest star aspect which is mostly well used but does occasionally make the series feel like an extended loads of cameos. The American names are impressive but have noticeably smaller roles than some others. The English actors send themselves up well – Kemp is hilariously self-aware, Stewart is fun but Les Dennis is the most memorable. His performance is spot on although I did wonder why he would want to lay himself as bare as he did here – he gets closest to the tragicness of life and he shadows anything else in his episode. The performances from Gervais and Jensen are pretty good – funny, realistic and fitting with the material. The one complaint I had was that I didn't feel for them or understand them anymore by episode 6 than I did in episode 1; they didn't develop their characters or find depth as well as I would have liked.

So naturally, this is not The Office – but then, what is? However this is still an enjoyably funny comedy of awkwardness with plenty of guest stars who at very least add interest (but mostly add a lot). It is funny and is a polished comedy series – just don't expect it to get close to the perfection of The Office.
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A lot better than these Office obsessed fans are saying
Fat__Tony30 July 2005
First things first, I thought the office was OK, not the classic everyone says it is, but still OK.

I do enjoy this a lot more, I don't know if it is the celebs sending themselves up, but seeing Ben Stiller playing a nerd version of himself was very funny.

The reason I feel this is better than the office, is quite simple, I found myself reciting the superb lines with friends, the only other shows that have ever made me do this are The Simpsons & Malcolm in the Middle. So that is pretty good company.

Well done Mr Gervais & Mr Merchant
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I actually prefer this......
richm_drevil5 August 2005
I've watched the first 3 eps and I have to say it's getting better. The first episode was relatively weak at the start but by the end (when Stiller starts his rant) it was above average. Last weeks ep was even better with Ross Kemp surprising me!! But last nites.........good god , I nearly bust something!!!!!!! I don't think i'll ever look at Ms.Winslett in the same way again! Filthy girl.....filthy filthy girl!! The prayer group scene was a funny 'look through the fingers' embarrassing funny (up there with the best of the 'Office') but then to follow it up with la Winslett miming a certain sexual action (and getting caught)...easily one of the funniest things i've seen this year. That coupled with her diatribe about 'holocaust' films, my opinion of Kate has shot waaaayy up.
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Merchant & Gervais still have it
truehammer5 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
'Extras' is a sitcom written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant who had previously collaborated on the award winning 'The Office'. The show carried on over two series and followed Andy Millman, a movie extra trying to make it into the big time, the only problem is hes forty, overweight and not blessed with Johnny Depp's looks.

In the first series it follows Andy desperately trying to get a line to move a notch up the showbiz ladder although hes currently on the bottom rung. The humour is dark and a satire on the real extras business which is very shallow and humiliating, the style is changed completely from The Office and Gervais plays a different character, David Brent was arrogant but pitiful, Andy Millman is a nicer person and more relatable but still pitiful in his own right.

The gimmick of each episode is they have one or more celebrity appearing or cameoing in a 'twisted' version of themselves, usually highly self-deprecating, either they are rude, arrogant, ignorant, liars, racist, not entirely sane or a combination of all of them. Without a shadow of a doubt the best cameo of the first series is Les Dennis, the way he laughs at his own horrible situation where he was humiliated by his wife who has arguably gone onto bigger things (totally undeserved, she is completely talentless) is admirable. Other highlights include Ben Stillers appearance where he plays a tyrannical director, Ross Kemp's confrontation with Vinnie Jones, Kate Winslet's phone sex scene and Patrick Stewart. The only disappointment really was Samuel L Jackson, they just didn't have any funny dialogue for him.

Andy is very sarcastic and thats where much of the shows humour comes from, he can be very witty and quick on his feet but occasionally inexplicably talks himself into a hole and continues digging way past a man as intelligent and glib as he sometimes appears to be should allow himself to get which is one of my problems with Extras, Andy Millman just isn't very consistent as a character. His best friend Maggie Jacobs is another problem, sometimes to great comic effect, Andy uses her to try and make himself look good like when he tries to impress a new neighbour he fancies and asks Maggie to pretend to be a fan and ask for his autograph, inevitably she messes it up and makes Andy look stupid with cringeworthy results. The problem isn't Maggie's characters fault as she is written stupid but Andy continually puts Maggie in a situation where she is bound to make him look bad and he never seems to learn which again is inconsistent with his character. It gets to the stage where when he asks Maggie to do something to make him look good you're literally waiting for her to mess up and after a while it isn't funny just irritating. Also sometimes Maggie can be deliberately malicious towards Andy, she enjoys joining in when Andy is being humiliated and even laughs at him, she never seems to stick up for him which I found disappointing.

Extras two best characters in my eyes are the recurring agent Darren Lamb and Shaun Williamson or 'Barry off Eastenders' as he is usually called, who along with Andy is a client of Darren's, the only other client of Darren's it seems for he is surely the worst agent in the business. His CV for Andy sounds more like a charity appeal than a list of achievements and he even questions potential employers judgement for trying to hirer Andy. His part-time weekend job at the Carphone Warehouse just about sums him up. His sidekick Barry, who seems in even worse dire straits than Andy is desperate for work and quotes Shakespeare (horribly) on queue. These two are genuinely hilarious and deserve credit for some of the funniest moments in the show. Merchant probably doesn't get as much credit as Gervais does but those that listened to 'The Ricky Gervais Show' on xfm can attest that Merchant can actually be funnier than Gervais, his quick one liners are brilliant. Karl Pilkington deserves a mention as well, many of his quotes are ripped straight from The Ricky Gervais Show into Extras.

The second series follows Andy's rise to relative fame, except not for the great art he would have hoped and leads to more embarrassing situations featuring more celebrity guests who vary in their ability to send themselves up to comic effect. Overall this was a very funny show with some classic comedy moments but I'm glad it ended when it did, on a high in the hour-long special after the second series, which was in my opinion the funniest and certainly the most moving of the lot which was a good way to bow out. Probably not quite as funny and groundbreaking as The Office this is a very good second crack which can occasionally be disappointing after a major debut success.

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American View of a Very Funny Britcom
mcgriswald10 February 2007
"Extras" is a British situation comedy created by Ricky Gervais, famous for creating "The Office", a British production that the American "Office" is based on.

Now showing on HBO, "Extras" tells the story of an actor who has been relegated to playing as an extra, typically with no speaking parts, and his struggle to make it in the rough and tumble world of BBC television.

In the first season, we are treated to Gervais' character arguing with other extras as to whether or not they had ever actually said a line during a show. The holy grail for these marginal actors is to get a speaking part--any extra who gets it is sure to lord it over the other extras.

Ultimately, Gervais character writes a thick-headed sitcom full of low humor and catchphrases, and the BBC buys it and casts Gervais as the lead character, complete with stupid catch phrase, fright wig and owl-eye glasses-because the producers insist they make him "funnier".

The hallmark of this show is feature appearances by famous celebrities, who unfailingly act like complete idiots--Orlando Bloom is obsessed with being hotter than Johnny Depp; Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) is an oversexed teen hitting on all females in range; Ian McKellan (Gandalf from LOTR) explains his acting method in a bit that is reminiscent of the "this amplifier goes up to 11" bit in Spinal Tap. One of the funniest appearances is by Patrick Stewart, who makes Star Trek references to Brits unfamiliar with the show, and whose pet project has himself playing a man endowed with superpowers that allow him to make women's clothes fall off.

Many of the actors are also British TV actors who Americans may or may not be familiar with, but they all parody themselves mercilessly.

Surrounding Gervais is a supporting cast that includes a very clueless platonic girlfriend, an astoundingly inept agent, and various other extras who are hugely jealous of Gervais (albeit sellout) success.

Definitely worth a watch, and if you have HBO on demand you can look up old episodes to catch up.
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Uncomfortable humor at its best
lauraeileen89421 January 2007
Sascha Baron Cohen better look out: his current reign as King of Uncomfortable Comedy (thanks to "Borat") could be overthrown by Ricky Gervais in "Extras", this uproarious comedy that could be Britain's answer to "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Gervais, the star of the British version of "The Office" (playing David Brent, later Michael Scott). "Extras" chronicles film extra Andy Millman (Gervais)'s quest to be recognized as a "real actor". So what if he's an overweight 43-year-old who only started the business five years ago? So what if he has an overinflated sense of self and a tendency to say EXACTLY what's on his mind? So what if his agent is a clueless prat who is absolutely no help? Andy's a real actor, dammit, and he's determined to prove it. His only real friend is fellow extra Maggie (Ashley Jenson), a sweet-natured but dim woman-child who has the same foot-in-mouth tendencies Andy does. Every episode follows Andy as he rubs elbows with real movie stars and tries to get at least one line in a movie. I have to applaud Gervais, who not only gets real actors to play themselves, but to play themselves in the most horrible way possible. Kate Winslet, for instance, plays herself as a shallow, sex-obsessed shrew who only picks roles she thinks will get her an Oscar. Ben Stiller plays himself as an insensitive, egotistical jackass who loves to remind everyone how much his movies have grossed worldwide. Even though the show tends to be formulaic, it's still a great comedy, albeit a rather melancholy one. "Extras" doesn't shy from topics such as the physically disabled, the frustrating life of a struggling actor, and the inherent sadness of being a faded has-been (the episode featuring Les Dennis borders on devastating). Still, the ever shallow and boorish Andy keeps things from getting maudlin, and somehow we love him for it. How often is it that the writers of a show create an unlikable character... and acknowledge that he's unlikable? We're always both sympathetic and gleeful when Andy fails yet again. Gervais is excellent, as is the rest of the cast. Jenson is a hoot as Maggie, who is a lot like a younger, Scottish accented version of Rose from "The Golden Girls". "Extras" is an exquisite show of uneasy humor. Watch it and be glad you're ordinary.
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Very good
Gareth21 July 2005
i have just watched the first episode of Ricky Gervais Extras. At first i was not sure that it would be any good, the idea seemed good, but there was a lot of expectations if it would live up to the office.

The style of the show is similar to the office, but not a documentary. I think it works pretty well and i'm glad they didn't use canned laughter because that would make it sound stupid. The jokes are delivered very well, except sometimes they run a bit flat. Ben Stiller was very funny and i was amazed that he was even in it.

overall very good, i laughed a lot and wasn't disappointed. I think the characters our brilliant and I'm pretty sure this show will be a big success.
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The British are lucky! The y have funny and witty comedians!
Christian Heynk6 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I've just watched pretty much all of the episodes on youtube, and I have to admit that this is probably one of the funniest and most sarcastic and at the same time wittiest TV shows I've seen in a long, long time. Ricky Gervais is a marvellous actor and just the last episode, the Christmas special, proved to me that he's not just a comedian but a really good actor, too. The scene in which he's on Big Brother for celebrities and just starts his short but astute speech against the contemporary media and their abuse of power just left me flabbergasted and gobsmacked. It felt as if he talked right from his heart and really meant everything he said. And I'd like to congratulate him on the risky decision to make the last episode not as funny as those before but instead giving it a less light-hearted touch. It moved me and I thought it was really deep.

So, you British people out there, consider yourself lucky for having such great comedians and comedies. You have no idea what kind of stupid comedies we're forced to watch here in Germany. Most of it is just a cheap spin-off of what you do. For example, we have a German version of the Office, which isn't bad, but it's still nothing but a spin-off.

Maybe the German language just wasn't meant to be funny.

So, good bye, and if you ever meet one of us: Don't mention the war!
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Another gem from the two best comic storytellers around
liquidcelluloid-15 January 2008
Network: HBO; Genre: Comedy; Content Rating: TV-MA (profanity, frank sexual dialog); Available: DVD; Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);

Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (2 seasons)

You're Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Your first series, "The Office", set the world on fire, racked up universal critical praise, awards, DVD sales and was given a popular American remake. What in the world do you do for an encore? Gervais and Merchant (henceforth known as G/M because I'm lazy), answer that question commercially, by spending a bit of "Office" capital by roping in a gaggle of celebrities to play against type and creatively by pretending that that success never happened.

"Extras" (an HBO/BBC joint) follows Andy Millman (Gervais) and Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen, amazingly able to keep pace with Hurricane Ricky) as "background artists" scraping to make it in show business. We've seen countless inside showbiz stories before. All about how "the business" eats people alive. But G/M re-imagine this story from the bottom up inside the universe of a struggling actor who spends his days waiting around for the chance to be a human prop and fighting to get that illusive one line of dialog.

The premise could easily be a rocket toward a brick wall in the hands of anyone else, but coming from G/M I could instantly see the potential for their brand of awkward humiliation comedy and sour human satire. While Andy is more self-aware than David Brent, he still can't help saying something totally insulting to a celebrity or to being the subject of a private (watch what Gervais does with a carbonated bottle of water) or public humiliation that would make Larry David feel good about himself. In "Office" G/M got comedy from misery, in "Extras" they get misery from comedy. There is a stark tone of pain and bitterness here. Brent deserved it to an extent, but having Andy suffer these humiliations may strike some as cruel.

G/M add another instrument to their repertoire, proving to be just as dead-on with pop culture parody as the dry stuff. Picture a perfectly recreated movie scene and then add the image of our hero simply walking by in the background with a tray of fruit and then hitting his mark halfway out of frame and you've got the laugh premise behind "Extras". Having built this house out of steal, G/M downshift and just have fun with celebrities and their image. Some guests are strained, some are funny. Patrick Stewart is a riot. A fight between Gervais and Ben Stiller is a highlight.

"Extras" takes a wide left turn in the 2nd season. Constantly running from a premature fear that their show will either become stale or too popular, G/M evolve "Extras" beyond the original premise and all the potential laughs with it quicker than I'd like. This evolution thrusts upon Andy success that he can't manage and opens up "Extras" to aim wider, at network sitcoms, the celebrity culture and the entertainment media.

In this section "Extras" makes a huge leap from Andy wanting to be famous to Andy putting on a crap sitcom and being miserable for it without getting into why this happens. This makes "The Comeback" requisite viewing, a series more detailed and knowledgeable about the inside mechanics of the TV industry. G/M are more concerned with it's affect on their characters, which is a way to do it, but leaves a gaping hole in the story.

In the feature length series finale (and bleakest "Christmas special" ever) Gervais actually names names; putting the celebrity media and bottom-feeding reality shows on trial in the court of public opinion. "Big Brother", in particular, gets a public spanking of epic proportions. It was a jarring and perfectly simple way to close out the series and will please those who didn't like the "super happy" ending of "The Office".

Amid the sharp satire, I was shocked at how often G/M go for the easy joke. Some of this gags are straight out of the very smarmy sitcom playbook that G/M are trying to ridicule here: old people talking about their sex lives, Kate Winslet giving phone sex advice, Maggie afraid that her black boyfriend will think she is a racist. All without a hint of irony. Then there are those "Curb"-inspired humiliation set-pieces, all set up and paid off the same way: Andy tells Maggie an embarrassing personal secret or makes an off color comment, then against all normal logic she repeats it in front of the wrong person. Rinse. Repeat.

I spent much of my time with "Extras" trying to shake off my own baggage and view the show by itself. Comparing "Extras" with "Office", "Curb" and "Comeback" will make your head spin. "Extras" is simpler and more accessible. That isn't all a bad thing, particularly with the skill at which G/M tell their story.

So "Extras" is flawed and contemporary. Yet as a sitcom it is still hilarious on a level that most mainstream network TV cannot compete with. "Extras" cements Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant as the two best comic storytellers on TV. Their attention to realism character and subtle, unspoken story metaphors are unmatched. Andy and Maggie's overall arc is a work of art that towers over the cheap sitcom gags.

The biggest pleasure of "Extras" may be that it is a chance to see Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant working on-screen together for the first time. Their scenes together in the agent's office are fireworks. With all the talk about Gervais, it is actually Merchant as Andy's hapless agent who steals the show's biggest laughs and gets a priceless running joke (involving "Barry of Eastenders"). If there is any doubt of Merchant's comic skills just watch "David Bowie" in which the agent feverishly attempts to negotiate two women back to his hotel room.

* * * ½ / 4
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A great idea, and a sense of self
Jospeh Sonnenblick14 February 2007
OK , i'm going to start by saying this is the greatest show Hbo has ever put on, and one of the greatest the BBC has ever green-lit. The second season of Extras seems to be a more serious aspect of the show, the first season was a lot of underhanded dry humor and relied heavily on the humor as a whole. Though the second season has this undercurrent of tragedy to it, showing how Gervais's character transforms his ideals and his attitudes to that of a prickish actor. Though he can't seem to catch a break, whether it be the people he surrounds himself with or his general hate of his work and what he has become, and i just watched the second season finale and i must say Welcome back to Robert Deniro, by far the funniest guest appearance of the season, he did so much with so little, to bring Deniro back so that he can ogle a naked woman on a pen take the pen and lead you to believe that he will go home and masturbate to it as everyone did in the episode is quite brilliant. I hope Gervais turns out more of the seriousness next season as i think it fits the character. Cheers.
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Bonafide greatness.
miloc15 January 2007
For some time I've been seeing comments here and elsewhere intimating that "Extras" was a decent comedy show, albeit not the stroke of genius that "The Office" was, that in any case deserved a chance, and all sorts of other trickles of faint praise. Since I was a great admirer of Gervais and Merchant's "Office" and not in a hurry to be let down in case that was a fluke, I didn't seek out the new series very rapidly. I recognized that a great deal of the success of the former series was based on Gervais' detailed caricature of Brent, and on the charm of the ensemble cast, which might be lost in a new setting. The new series hinted at hokeyness, with celebrity guest stars and the potentially thin premise of a scrabbling "background artist" trying to make good.

So, having just watched the first series, I was frankly bewildered to find that "Extras" was one of the best television comedies I've seen. It's funny, biting, touching, painful and likable in all the right measures. Gervais has created a subtler persona than his previous one: the essentially ordinary, honest-to-a-fault Andy Millman, facing his forty-third year with the quiet desperation of the perennial also-ran. Accompanied by his feather-brained best friend Maggie (nicely played by Ashley Jensen) and his insanely incompetent agent (Stephen Merchant proving himself as a performer as well as a writer), he navigates the choppy waters of show business with teeth bared. Brent's inane grin has transformed into the painfully aware grimace-smile of the borderline failure. Gervais has successfully softened his comic mannerisms without losing his edge, and it's paid off; "Extras" goes darker and deeper even as the situations grow more outsize and bizarre.

By creating one great, brief TV series, Gervais and Merchant could have been an unusually brilliant one-joke wonders. By creating two they establish themselves as genuine and formidable comic talents. "Extras" is not be missed.
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