Powered by i.TV
September 2, 2014

Extras: Episode 5

by Martin Conaghan, posted Oct 13th 2006 6:30PM
Andy Millman(S02E05) When I said last week that things couldn't get any worse for Andy Millman, I was clearly wrong.

The only other show I can think of that spirals so badly out of control for the lead character is Fawlty Towers, where Basil Fawlty, a victim of his own pomposity and bizarre circumstances ends up neck-deep in catastrophe upon disaster, finalising with a conclusion that often resembles the aftermath of a small war.

And this week, it was no different for Andy, in yet another classic episode of this genius comedy from Ricky Gervais.

Where do you begin to describe the nerve-crushingly painful circumstances Andy finds himself in this week's Extras?

Well, it all starts when he requests for his agent to find him more serious work beyond the confines of his over-popular, low-brow sitcom, and an old homophobic 'ladies-man' friend pays him a visit at BBC Television Centre in London to bask in the glory of his fame.

The 'serious' work Andy ends up initially sounding promising; the opportunity to work with Sir Ian McKellen -- which turns into a lead role in a play about a homosexual relationship, and the unplanned requirement for Andy to kiss another man in the final scene on opening night, while his gay-bashing friends look on in disgust.

The parallel story revolves around Andy's Agent, Darren Lamb, managing to convince Andy's friend, Maggie Jacobs, to go on a date, which starts off surprisingly well, only to end in disaster when Darren uses a dessert whisk from the kitchen to unblock the toilet in his apartment, right in the middle of a candle-lit meal.

And it gets worse.

Not only does Andy face the prospect of having to embrace another man on stage, but a former colleague (played by a brilliantly over-the-top and thoroughly camp Gerard Kelly) turns up at the foyer of the theatre as Andy's friends are arriving and publicly spills the beans on his coming out.

As ever, the scenario progressively descends into a horrible, uncomfortable chaos, with Andy refusing to kiss his acting colleague live on stage out of sheer embarrassment, ruining the opening night of the play for everyone. However, for once in this current series, I suspect the viewers would have felt genuinely sorry for Andy and his predicament.

Of course, McKellan was superb as the actor's actor with no 'method' (other than simply pretending to portray the character he's cast as), and Stephen Merchant superbly acts the obliviously foolish Darren, while his blossoming relationship with Maggie takes a turn for the worse.

I'm fairly sure the majority of the audience will continue to find Extras far too difficult to watch, but Gervais manages to cover so much ground in such a politically-incorrect way during each episode, with homophobia and ignorance just two of the subtle subtexts encountered in this penultimate episode.

I'm really not looking forward to next week, mostly because I know we'll never see another episode of Extras again (unless there's a Christmas Special planned) -- but I'd honestly watch this utter genius every week of the year, if they'd only make more.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

7 Comments

Filter by:
Gaz

Honestly, I lack the right words to explain why this show is so incredibly brilliant. Along with Curb Your Enthusiasm, these are easily the best comedies on TV. They have raised the bar so high that watching anything else is frankly a compromise.

As brilliant as The Office was, it was also too painful at times. But this? FANTASTIC!

Why Only 12 episodes? Why follow Fawlty Towers as far as the number of episodes and not Doctor Who?

At least Larry David is coming back for another season. Small comfort.

October 15 2006 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doug

Steve Merchant's performance every week is just wonderful. The subtle faces he makes, I really think he might be up there with Michael Richards in physical comedy too.

October 15 2006 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phish

What a brilliant comedy, nothing else like it on TV.

You cant watch it and take it too seriously otherwise you wont get past the uncomfortable moments. When you have watched as much Ricky as i have, you will begin to expect these moments and even find them hilarious.

The scene where andy tries to chat up that girl and makes a complete fool of himself had me rolling on the gound, dying of laughter. I havent laughed that hard in ages.

I dont wanna watch next weeks SERIES finale. Now THAT'S uncomfortable!!!!

October 15 2006 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phish

What a brilliant comedy, nothing else like it on TV.

You cant watch it and take it too seriously otherwise you wont get past the uncomfortable moments. When you have watched as much Ricky as i have, you will begin to expect these moments and even find them hilarious.

The scene where andy tries to chat up that girl and makes a complete fool of himself had me rolling on the gound, dying of laughter. I havent laughed that hard in ages.

I dont wanna watch next weeks SERIES finale. Now THAT'S uncomfortable!!!!

October 15 2006 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent

The good part about downloading the show is you can skip parts that are so uncomfortable.

October 14 2006 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ooda

I could not watch at the start when there was the whole debarkle with the name, and at the end, it was thoroughly awkward when he refused to kiss the guy. I find it funny (not haha funny) that Andy still feels like he has to put up such a fascade in front of people whom he knew in the past.

Robin, about a month ago Ricky announced that there would only be two seasons (or series, as the English are fond of calling them). But yeah, being Australian, I understand a lot of the jokes that are said, but when it comes to cultural references I don't get any of them. I mean, I can pick up on the points they are getting at, but that's all. I can only see it being even more disjointed for American viewers, who have neither the knowledge about the culture or the slang.

But yeah, Extras is probably the series, at least the comedy, that leaves me most depressed after watching. That and you're completely correct about "Tea for the Tillerman". It's fitting, but damn, it just helps compound the depressed state I'm in after watching an episode.

October 13 2006 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robin Diane Goldstein

Is it still a comedy when the closing credits, and especially poingant Tea for the Tillerman, leave you feeling like you've just watched your best friend die? Martin's comments are, again, spot on... Try as I might, I was never able to get into the spirit of the original The Office... it always hurt too much and the dreariness was crushing... but I liked the first series of Extras primarily because the blackest comedy was tempered with a healthy dollop of buffoonery... unfortunately the second series seems to have fewer "funny" moments (or maybe the "black" parts are just "blacker")... there certainly are laugh out loud scenes each week (i think Merchant has been given all the good lines this time around), but the past few shows have gone dark right in the first few minutes, which is a lot to ask a 1/2 hour comedy to dig itself out of every week... Of course, I too will be there for next week's final show of the series... And if I'm not mistaken i heard a Radio 4 interview with Gervais (recorded before this series started to air) where he said that he thought there could be a third series (unlike The Office), so hope springs eternal (which is, after all, the point, eh?!)... But whether HBO will air the second series in the US (with far more brit-centric references that the first time around) or be up to kicking in some cash for a third series, is a dodgier proposition...

But is it still a comedy?

October 13 2006 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners