Extras - The Special [DVD]
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The Christmas special of the BBC comedy from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. In this series finale, even though his sitcom 'When the Whistle Blows' is a huge success, Andy (Gervais) has finally had enough of not receiving the artistic recognition he feels he rightly deserves. Letting his ego rule his head, he arrogantly rejects long-term friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) and quits his role, convinced that the job offers will come flooding in. Features cameo appearances from George Michael, Clive Owen, David Tennant and Gordon Ramsay.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown of celebrity. Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) is back and more miserable than ever in this darker and devastatingly funny finale to the Emmy-winning series. Though his sitcom When the Whistle Blows rates six million viewers, he is, as ever, mindful of the critics' barbs and jealous of colleagues landing the prestige film roles he covets. "I'm not proud of having Britain's No. 1 catchphrase," he grouses (actually, he has sunk to No. 3, now trailing "You are the weakest link, goodbye"). Worse, he has become a right bastard, arrogantly treating crewmembers and his one true friend, Maggie (a heartbreaking Ashley Jensen), like dirt. Andy finally drops his clueless and incompetent agent (series co-creator Stephen Merchant) and quits the show. "Don't worry about me," he proclaims. "The phone won't stop ringing."
Unlike the finale of The Office, this super-duper-sized episode really has no loose ends to tie up. In Andy's humiliating comeuppance (he sinks to portraying an alien on Dr. Who and joins the desperate housemates on Celebrity Big Brother), Gervais has the perfect vessel with which to rail against soul-sucking celebrity, degrading tabloid culture, and "the gutter press." As for Andy and Maggie, those longing for some kind of Tim/Dawn hookup may not get exactly what they want, but they will get what they need in the lovely final scenes. A-listers having a laugh at their own images have always been one of Extras' special treats. The finale features jaw-dropping cameos by Clive Owen and George Michael, performing community service yet again. --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
The shows strives for two things. Firstly, to entertain and to be funny, to poke fun at the celebrities we all know and kove but then also it strives to show us how these celebrity lifestyles we envision as being so picture perfect can lose their way. Andy has reached this point. His show is popular with millions tuning in to see it and yet he still feels that he should be seeking critical acclaim. He therefore fires his useless Agent (Merchant) and sets about burning the bridges he laid out with the BBC.
However it's not just Andy who's on a slippery slope. His friend Maggie (Jensen) struggles with Andy's new found resentment of his fame as she herself has to struggle with her own life.
Although the show has plenty of genuinely funny moments, it's this portrayal of the way fame can change a person that makes this show make it the masterpiece it is.
The DVD also features some great special features with Outtakes (always great, Gervais' laugh cracks me up every time), a featurette on the "Real Extras", Deleted Scenes and a great bit where Ricky and Stephen answer questions sent in from the viewers.
The film was placed into the player and I was greeted with a wonderful high-def menu of Ricky wrapped in christmas lights (the same image used on the american DVD release I believe) a sternly looking Ricky illuminating seemingly in time to the now famous theme song of Cat Stephens- Tea for Tillerman.
It's really difficult to fault the story in any way, as usual Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant deliver line after line of comedic originality that's what's so sought after from the two. It's important also to note that they wrote and directed the film too.
The story follows Andy (Ricky Gervais) as he yearns for a genuine route to becoming a successful actor though is again and again plundered through the mundane routine of cheesy catchphrases and cheap and easy television that attracts in his eyes, the wrong type of followers. Stupid people. Garnering little respect and much humiliation to himself.
Though the story focuses mainly on Andy, other characters play major roles; we are treated to the quirky shenanigans of Andy's agent, Darren Lamb (Stephen Merchant) and his affectionately unintelligent assistant Barry (Shaun Williamson) who provide a lot of the more slapstick jokes throughout the story (note: the jacket incident in which Darren's struggling to get his head out of the jacket with little help from Barry who's just making matters worse by pulling more.Read more ›
As in the two preceding series Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Ashley Jensen and the wonderful "Barry" are a brilliantly effective comic combination but, unlike many other "specials" which simply re-tread what's gone before, they take their roles and their stories to much deeper levels that provide real insights into how the successes & failures of what's served up on our TVs each night impact on those involved. Bitingly critical of the whole celebrity bandwagon and, probably, closer to the truth than we'd like to believe, the trick - which they pull-off wholly successfully - is to make us laugh at its excesses while making us question the sanity of what's going on in a business where "fame" has become an end in itself, where people will do anything to get it & keep it, and where broken dreams litter the floor.
And, as in the previous episodes but in this case even more pointedly, the celebrities they wheel in for their cameo turns seem oblivious to the self-parody of their roles - witness Lionel Blair's and George Michael's appearances which beg the question whether they're so desperate to get exposure in a high ratings show such as "Extras" that they're prepared to allow themselves to be degraded in this manner... which, of course, is exactly the point that Gervais & Merchant are making.
Black comedy doesn't get any better than this and, in addition to being a superb way to end an already excellent series, "The Special" is, on its own, a highly effective and very funny insight into people's aspirations & motivations in a very strange world that, thankfully or not, most of us will never experience.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i am one of those people who find Ricky Gervaise funny half the time, and cringe-worthy the other half of the time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by F. M. Havicon