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October 13, 2015

Extras: Episode 4

by Martin Conaghan, posted Oct 5th 2006 9:34PM
Ray Stokes(S02E04) It really couldn't possibly get any worse for Andy Millman. Seriously.

Following on from last week's Down Syndrome debacle, Andy kicked-off tonight's show with a charity video appeal, only to subsequently find his entire BBC sitcom hijacked by a shamelessly self-promoting Chris Martin.

However, the Coldplay front-man's repeated attempts to hawk a forthcoming greatest hits album was really only the start of Andy's problems, as he ended up nominated for a BAFTA award and finally caught a glimpse of some of light at the end of the tunnel.

Of course, this is Extras we're talking about here, and a glimmer of good fortune can really only ever represent potential disaster as far as Andy Millman is concerned.

Not only was his agent preparing a prototype Andy doll (based on the ridiculous lead character of his sitcom, Ray Stokes -- replete with an audible "are you 'avin a laugh?" voice feature), but his friend Maggie didn't have a dress to wear to the awards ceremony. Then, in a vain attempt to impress upon the rude owner of a designer dress boutique, Andy offered to purchase the dress Maggie wanted for the big night out, discovering to his pain that it carried a hugely over-inflated price-tag.

If the sight of Chris Martin performing a solo version of "Fix You" in the middle of Andy's banal sitcom wasn't enough to send the audience gnawing at their knuckles in a fit of squirming, then Andy's rapidly-deteriorating situation at the BAFTA awards ceremony was.

It started with his agent, Darren Lamb, arriving noisily in the middle of the obituary segment of the ceremony and insensitively setting off the prototype Andy doll, much to the disgust of the entire audience -- only to be followed by Andy's failure to win an award, then finding himself banned forever from the BAFTA awards when security guards caught him inadvertently stuck in a lavatory cubicle with a cocaine-sniffing Ronnie Corbett.

I had a pillow in front of my face for most of the second half of the show, screaming and laughing in equal measure.

Extras truly is comedy at its most unbearably painful, and yet it's also outrageously funny at the same time.

Ricky Gervais continues to re-invent the genre with an endless succession of disastrous comedy scenarios, while still managing to deliver subtle moments of pathos with such fleeting little segueways like Andy's brief gaze at Maggie's transformation in the expensive evening dress.

But it's almost too difficult to watch, at times -- a bit like peeking through your fingers at a visceral horror movie or standing dumbfounded as a slow-motion car crash unfolds.

But it's always a class act, and I honestly can't believe that next week's show will be the penultimate episode of this second series.

Gervais -- if you're reading this: we want more.

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It's getting a bit repetitive, it's still funny just getting a bit old. It's frustrating that Andy isn't trying to do anything to get out of the situations he's in.

I guess there are a few seeds of underlying story there that we dont get, like Darren having to work at Phone Shack, or whatever it was, to prop up his income. I just thought Maggie might have learnt her lesson after the end of the first seasons fall out when Andy almost lost his sitcom but it seems she hasn't.

I just thought there might be some progression, it's just the same jokes in slightly different situations.

October 09 2006 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't mind Maggie so much, but the show completely loses me, believability-wise, when Darren comes in. I understand why Andy would have stayed with Darren as his agent when he was still an extra, but after the first episode of 'When the Whistle Blows' aired, he'd have had at least a few high(er) agents calling. Even if Andy hadn't had the sense to fire Darren himself, the BBC should have demanded it after last week's 'Richard and Judy' debacle. The character is just the sort of hoary sitcom crutch that Gervais professes to despise.

October 06 2006 at 10:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love everything about the show except Maggie. She is oftentimes too stupid, and it is not cringeworthy, it is just exasperating.

Take the scene in the ladies room last night for instance. It just makes no sense, it is one thing when a character is insensitive or speaks without a care for the consequence (often the case with Andy's agent), but it is another thing when you get something as dumbfounding as the exchange between Maggie at the Holby City actress. Her response is great, at the end of the show but the way they get there is just so frustrating.

It was the same thing two weeks ago with the situation where Andy was flirting with the girl who was moving into his building. It isn't funny, just incredibly frustrating.

October 06 2006 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morgan at Spot Cost

One reason these shows seem so good is that they don't have to save anything for the 5th, 6th, 7th seasons. They're 6 hours and out. So I hope they stick with ending it.

And even at that, this is nowhere near The Office. You can see too much similarity in the writing of types of characters, like the Harry Potter describing his smoking habits. He was almost verbatim David Brent on drinking. And certain turns of phrases stand out when different people use them, like 'keep shtum'.

It's still really good, but this is way over-the-top, so I care much less for the characters. And here's hoping Stephen Merchant has the sense to stay behind the scenes from now on. There's just no way, unless he's a moron, that Andy would ever hang around Darren or Maggie.

October 06 2006 at 4:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Timpy

I agree entirely!

The great unwashed want MORE please !!!!!

October 06 2006 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why oh why will there only be TWO seasons of this amazing show. In a world where mediocre, badly written, idiotic shows can stay on TV for a decade, here we have a true gem, a shining star that will burn bright for only 2 seasons.
I sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of Ricky and Stephen after this series.

October 06 2006 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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