Monday, 30 November 2009

Extras: The Complete Collection: DVD Review

Extras: The Complete Collection: DVD Review

Extras: The Complete Collection
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Shaun Williamson, Ashley Jensen
Released by BBC and Roadshow Entertainment
Collecting together all 12 of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's comedy and bundling it up with the TV movie which rounded off the series is a genius idea.
Granted it's nothing which hasn't already been released but it's a great collection which sucks you in.
Gervais is Andy Millman, a TV extra who longs to make it - his friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) is also a struggling actress - and combined with his useless agent Darren (the gangly awkward Stephen Merchant), Andy tries whatever he can to get a bigger part onscreen.
Ultimately though, it leads to Millman being humiliated - however, in series 2, Millman gets the break he's wanted and lands a BBC sitcom. Yet that momentous victory is soured by the fact he's making TV for the masses with catch phrases and parts of his soul being torn from him.
And then in the special, Andy nearly loses everything when he heads for the top.
The joy of Extras comes in the writing and awkwardness which in some ways was pioneered in The Office. Gervais isn't afraid to make himself the butt of the jokes all the way through - and Merchant trades on his towering frame and stupidity for his agent Darren. Coupled with the Hollywood cameos throughout the series, this is compelling viewing.
However, it's the Special TV movie at the end which makes this set what it is - and showcases exactly why the poignancy and heartache - along with Ashley Jensen's terrific performance - work best in this series. As Andy forgets everyone around him on his way up, his friend heads for rock bottom and near depression - Ashley Jensen's performance will leave even the most hard hearted in tears.
Gervais has had the good sense to end Extras after two series - let's hope it stays that way because he's fashioned the perfect sitcom which deals with Hollywood; there's despair, desperation, laughs and tragedy in spades.
Brilliant viewing for fans of Gervais' "awkward moments" style of comedy comedy where the joke's on him - and there's heartbreak aplenty.
Extras: Behind the scenes docos, the difficult second album looks at how they wrote the show after The Office, commentaries, deleted scenes and Outtakes add to the package - but their inclusion only enhance the experience as all have been available on separate discs before.

Rating: 8/10

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