Complete first series of the BBC comedy from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, following the humiliations of professional film extra Andy Millman (Gervais) and his eccentric friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) as they try - and fail - to gain significant lines or parts in various productions. A host of famous actors send themselves up in cameo roles. In 'Ben Stiller', the Hollywood comedian is directing a film about the Bosnia conflict, and Andy tries to win a role by making friends with the refugee who wrote the script. In 'Ross Kemp', the TV hardman tries to convince Andy that his image is real, before being humiliated by the much harder Vinnie Jones. In 'Kate Winslet', the actress hopes her role in a Nazi war drama will win her an Oscar, and Andy tries a little too hard to get close to her. In 'Les Dennis', Andy gets a break playing in a panto alongside the washed-up TV star. In 'Samuel L. Jackson', Maggie gets into difficulties trying to prove she isn't racist, while Andy manages to get a line on a film the Hollywood superstar is making. Finally, in 'Patrick Stewart', Andy manages to enlist the Shakespearean actor's help in getting a script he's written to the BBC, but makes a fool of himself when he realises the script editor he's meeting with is gay.
,Ricky Gervais much-anticipated follow-up to The Office
, is a quieter affair, and a little less accessible that its award-laden predecessor. But across the six episodes on this first season DVD set are several episodes that will richly reward repeated viewings.
Gervais plays Andy Millman, an actor whose roster of jobs seems to consistently consist of extras work. Each episode follows him on a different production, and also brings in a notable guest star. Lining up throughout the series are the likes of Samuel L Jackson, Kate Winslet and Ben Stiller. And while their presence undoubtedly adds something to each carefully crafted episode, its perhaps those with the lesser names that show the programme on top form--certainly the appearance of Les Dennis makes for an excellent half hour of comedy-drama.
At the core though is Gervais Millman--a far easier character to warm to than David Brent--and Ashley Jensens marvellous Maggie Jacobs. Its these two who consistently provide the shows highlights, and while the headlines have been generated by the all-star roster of names attracted to appear in Extras, its the two less showy characters who work the best.
Extras isnt a show full of belly laughs, and its fanbase is likely to be smaller than that of The Office. But its still a quality creation, properly crafted, with an awful lot to it to enjoy and appreciated.--Simon Brew