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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Ricky Gervais, Ashley Jensen, Stephen Merchant
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
The story of a man with small parts.

Synopsis:
The British phenomenon and 2007 Emmy-winner Ricky Gervais, founder of BBC's original The Office, stars in the hilariously funny series Extras, now available in a gift set! Watch the story unfold as Ricky Gervais plays a lowly film extra, Andy Millman, who makes his mark in the background while the stars do their work. This gift set is packaged in a slip case that includes both seasons of the hit series, Extras!

Also includes the 90-minute series finale, never before released on DVD!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 444 min.
Price: $49.98
Release Date: 1/15/2008

Bonus:
Disc One
• 3 Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
Disc Two
• 4 Deleted Scenes
• “The Difficult Second Album” Featurette
• “Finding Leo” Featurette
• Outtakes
Disc Three
• “Extras Backstage” Documentary
• Outtakes
Disc Four
• “Extras Backstage” Documentary
• “Taping Nigel: The Gimpening” Featurette
• “Art of Corpsing” Featurette
• Outtakes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Extras: The Complete Series (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 14, 2008)

As the world waits for a new Ricky Gervais television project – if he decides to make one, I suppose – we can revisit the hilarity of Extras via this “Complete Series” package. Across its five DVDs, we get all 12 “regular” episodes from Seasons One and Two along with a December 2007 extra-long “Finale”. The plot synopses come straight from the show’s official website – except for the “Finale”, which came from the DVD’s case.

DVD ONE:

Episode One: Kate Winslet: “On the set of a Holocaust film set in a nunnery, Andy Millman (Gervais) and the film's star, Kate Winslet, become privy to Maggie's (Ashley Jensen) latest secret - that her new boyfriend (John Kirk) has a phone-sex fetish. In her proper nun's habit, Kate offers some X-rated counsel, and comes clean about her true motives for doing the film (Holocaust = Oscar). Meanwhile, to get a date with an extra named Suzanne (Charlotte Palmer), Andy resorts to lying about his religious beliefs after being questioned by Suzanne's sister Francesca (Francesca Martinez), who has cerebral palsy. He gets his hot date - to a church prayer meeting, where his tales come undone when he is questioned by a priest (Kevin Moore)."

“Winslet” sets the tone for Extras right off the bat – and does so in a splendid manner. We learn the essence of the main characters in a tight manner that eschews tedious exposition. For instance, Andy doesn’t tell us that he’s a struggling actor, but we get the gist of his personality and life in simple ways.

I love the way the stars who appear are willing to lampoon themselves as well. Not only do we get to hear Winslet talk dirty, but also we hear her happily admit that she’s doing a Holocaust movie to win an Oscar. This is tight, non-PC fun that launches the series in a most satisfying manner.

Episode Two: Ben Stiller: “Andy is close to getting his first speaking part after he befriends a Bosnian widower (Boris Boskovic) whose story is being made into a film. Maggie is giddy about a crying role, and even giddier when she meets an attractive production manager (Steve Jackson). At a set party, Andy tries to ingratiate himself with the film's producer (Jay Villiers) while Maggie discovers her new romantic interest has a 'Herman Munster' shoe, a boost for a shortened leg. The two get kicked off the set after sticking their own large feet into their non-speaking-part mouths."

While it works well, Episode Two can’t keep up with the pace of the first show. Part of the decline comes from the use of Stiller. He’s perfectly entertaining, of course, but it’s not as delightful to see him poke fun at himself; Stiller often spoofs himself, so it doesn’t seem so wicked to watch him act like a jerk. Anyway, even though E2 isn’t one of the best, it’s still amusing.

Episode Three: Ross Kemp: “On the set of an epic war drama, Maggie pursues a dashing fellow extra (Raymond Coulthard) in line for the port-a-potty. Andy is frustrated that he's not getting any lines — or even a body part on screen. He pays a visit to his agent (Stephen Merchant), who tells him his phone was unplugged for a few days, then blames Andy for not pulling in any work. 'I'm not sure there's a demand for little 45-year-old blokes,' he tells him. 'You might want to consider throwing in the towel.'

"Defeated, Andy returns to the set, where he befriends British soap star Ross Kemp, who promises to get him a line. This lifts his spirits, until he unwittingly starts a fight between Kemp and soccer star Vinnie Jones, and discovers the actor is completely full of it.

“At least Maggie finally sees some action — bedding the handsome fellow extra, though she disappoints him when she appears to be playing a 'background artist' in the sack."

I think Extras works well for us Yanks, but some programs lose a little in translation. The issue here stems from E3’s guest star, as I have no even vague idea who Ross Kemp is. I had to do an IMDB search to figure out if I’d seen him anywhere in the past, and the answer was “no”. He’s done virtually nothing to make him known to a US audience.

Even with the absence of a recognizable guest, E3 rebounds from the less stellar E2. It helps that we find a return from Andy’s incompetent agent Darren. The dim Maggie also gets better than usual moments as she pretends to be smart to bag her fellow extra; her attempt to sound like she knows about the stock market really delights. This is another fine episode.

DVD TWO:

Episode Four: Samuel L. Jackson: “A fellow extra (Steve Speirs) helps Andy get a big line on the set of a cop movie, but the man expects friendship in return, torturing Andy with his wretched tales and badgering him to take him out. Maggie becomes smitten with the film's handsome African-American co-star (Michael Wildman), and tries to cozy up to him on the 'Actor Bus' — only to be sent away to the 'Background Bus.'

"While trying to dodge his new extra friend, Andy ends up in a cemetery visiting the gravesite of his departed Jewish mother, who apparently died giving birth to him when she was nearing 70. Maggie gets a date with the handsome actor, but things go awry back at her place."

E4 balances different story threads and portrays them all well. I especially like the “racism test” Andy uses to torment Maggie. Speirs offers a great guest performance as the annoying extra, and the sight of Maggie as she tries not to appear racist to Dan really delights. This is a very solid episode.

Episode Five: Les Dennis: “Andy's incompetent agent finally gets his client a speaking role — playing a gay genie in a stage adaptation of Aladdin. Despite Andy's best thespian efforts, the play crashes after its star, TV game show host Les Dennis, learns from Andy that his young fiancée (Nicky Ladanowski) has been fooling around with a stagehand — and takes it out on the audience. Meanwhile, Maggie sets off a family feud between the play's flamboyant director (Gerard Kelly) and his long-suffering actress daughter (Rebecca Gethings)."

It’s nice to get away from the movie sets, as E5 takes us to the stage. Gervais’s turn as the Genie is awfully funny and adds spark to the show. The Brit factor again diminishes the impact of the guest star, unfortunately, since neither I nor pretty much anyone else in the US will have the slightest clue who Les Dennis is. Even with that minor weakness, E5 provides a solid program.

Episode Six: Patrick Stewart: “On the set of an Elizabethan drama, Andy pitches a sitcom pilot script to Patrick Stewart, who shares his own screenwriting story ideas (he plays a man with special powers who makes women's clothes disappear, after saving them in Iraq). Though Andy admits he's never seen Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stewart gets his script into the right hands—as Andy's agent attempts to take credit. While working on the pilot, Andy nearly sabotages his big break after calling his script editor (Martin Savage) 'too gay.’"

My first experience with Extras came from this episode. My friend Kevin embraced the series before I’d heard of it, and he insisted on showing me the part of the show where Stewart discusses his script. Why? Because Kevin believes – correctly, in fact – that Stewart’s story is exactly the kind of thing I’d love to see.

That scene remains arguably the funniest part of Season One, but E6 has plenty of other good moments. Darren’s incompetence as an agent continues to be hilarious, and the show really excels at all points. Season One ends with probably its best episode.

DVD THREE:

Episode One: Orlando Bloom: “Maggie gets a background part as a juror in a ridiculous courtroom drama, which stars Orlando Bloom as a handsome barrister. Watching the actor get accosted by female fans, Maggie sympathizes. ‘Must be exhausting...especially 'cause they're just doing it ‘cause you're famous’. Orlando insists his good looks are the draw, then carries on about how much more popular he is than Johnny Depp. Maggie doesn't buy it.

“A jittery Andy calls Maggie from the set of his sitcom, which was picked up and dumbed down by the network. His agent tries to assure him that ‘crass, lowest common denominator’ comedy gets the biggest ratings. When a lead actor drops out, claiming the show is ‘too broad’, the network replaces him with a daft TV presenter (Keith Chegwin), sending Andy over the edge.”

Season Two picks up where Season One left off – almost literally. That means mostly more of the same, though of course, Andy’s in a different place, as he manages his own show instead of acting as an extra in the work of others.

That doesn’t mean a change in tone, though. Andy still must deal with the indignities that come with his new lot in life, and none of this seems to make him any happier. We also continue to see the world of the movie extra through Maggie’s situation.

A couple of jokes lose something in the translation from across the pond, but not too many. The gag about funny black Brits falls flat due to a reference to a performer I don’t recognize, and the use of TV host Chegwin doesn’t impact me because I have no idea who he is. That said, we can figure out his position in the show biz spectrum pretty well, and his moments become very funny.

Bloom’s guest turn seems a bit predictable, as he plays the egotistical movie star. Those bits still amuse, though, even when they lead to a somewhat dopey conclusion. E1 suffers from a couple parts that seem a little too “sit-com” for my liking, but it mostly works well and starts off S2 on a good note.

Episode Two: David Bowie: “The reviews are in for Andy's new sitcom, and they're unanimous: ‘Worst sitcom of all time’, exclaims one. ‘Miserable wretches dying slowly’, surmises another. ‘Makes you want to gouge out your own eyes rather than watch one more minute’, weighs in a third.

“To make matters worse, he's starting to get recognized by the rabble -- drunken blokes straight out of The Hills Have Eyes, hostile self-declared critics, and even a homeless guy who seems likely to tell the world about Andy's begrudging charity. Just when he finally gets a little respect - entrance into the VIP section of a hip lounge - Andy's ushered back out the second David Bowie arrives…”

Since Bowie is my favorite musical artist, I looked forward to E2. Happily, the show delivers, even though it’s more offbeat than usual. Unlike every prior episode of Extras, this one doesn’t spend a minute on a set of any sort. Instead, it follows reactions to Andy’s series and his attempts to deal with his new fame. This doesn’t go well and result in Bowie’s composition of a tune about Andy. That part’s hilarious, and the rest of the show amuses as well. Throw in an inspired confrontation with a homeless guy and this turns into a terrific show.

Episode Three: Daniel Radcliffe: “In spite of his feckless agent, Andy is offered a speaking part in a Daniel Radcliffe film. He also lands Maggie some extra work - and an eager young suitor, Harry Potter himself. Dressed in a Scout's uniform for his latest role, the actor comes on strong, telling Maggie he's ‘done it with a girl, intercourse-wise’ before his mother interrupts and drags him off. Returning later to close the deal, Daniel shows Andy the super-sized condom he's unrolled for the occasion, then accidentally flings it onto the head of Dame Diana Rigg.

“To celebrate his new status as a film star, Andy takes Maggie to a high-end restaurant, where he complains about the loud noises coming from a kid behind them - unaware that the boy has Down's syndrome. The media has a field day, and soon Andy is being accused of attacking the boy and punching his mother.”

Possibly the series’ most notorious episode, this one boasts a hilarious attempt by Radcliffe to poke holes in his wholesome image. He whoops it up as Horny Potter and creates this show’s best moments. The politically incorrect gags about “little people” also work well. Unfortunately, the story line about Andy’s “assault” on the Down Syndrome kid becomes less positive. It follows predictable lines in terms of the foibles of fame. This is still a nice program, though; how often do you get to see Diana Rigg with a condom on her head?

By the way, stick around through the completion of the end credits. You’ll find a funny coda to this episode there.

DVD FOUR:

Episode Four: Chris Martin: “Andy tapes his first celebrity public service announcement - for clean drinking water in Africa - and meets an actual celebrity: Chris Martin. Spotting Andy, Martin asks about the size of his sitcom audience, then suggests he should make an appearance.

“As it turns out, the rock star is ‘popping by’ the factory to promote his latest album, and the workers on When the Whistle Blows beg him to perform a song - which he does as the factory suddenly converts into a fully-lit concert venue. Andy cringes from the sidelines.

“As he predicted, the TV critics aren't kind, claiming his show has sunk even lower. His agent does have some good news, however: Andy's been nominated for a comedy BAFTA, and the entries ‘are all crap this year’, so he might even have a chance.”

I recognize that the series’ use of guest stars has become predictable, as they always come on and do something that makes them look bad. However, that doesn’t mean the formula fails to remain amusing, and Martin’s turn works awfully well, largely because of the idiotic way Martin gets worked into When the Whistle Blows. We also get a funny subversion of a famous Pretty Woman scene. The BAFTA stuff suffers some from the “across the Atlantic” translation factor, but this still is a solid episode.

Oh, and look for another post-credits clip here.

Episode Five: Ian McKellen: “With the critics still dumping on his sitcom, Andy begs Darren to find him something that will earn him some respect, like theater. Thanks to another client, Barry, Darren hears about a play Ian McKellen is directing, and lands Andy an audition.

“On the set of When the Whistle Blows, Andy gets a surprise visit from an old classmate, Steve Sherwood (Jonathan Cake), the ‘coolest kid in school’. Now a ruggedly handsome grownup, Sherwood tells Maggie and Darren they always thought Andy was gay in school, and the two do nothing to dispel the theory.

“Andy is excited for his audition with Ian McKellen - until he learns that the character who plays his lover, Fran, is actually a guy. ‘Gay is all the rage’, Darren assures him, convincing him it will show his range and anoint him a serious actor.”

Rather than present the Egotistical Guest Star, here McKellen goes for the Stupid Guest Star. That’s the less-used variation but it’s just as amusing, especially when McKellen presents his acting instructions. Unfortunately, E5 telegraphs some of its bits; when we see issues related to homosexuality, a few inevitable gags result. It’s still funny, of course, but a little less inventive than usual.

Episode Six: ??????: “On the talk show circuit, Jonathan Ross asks Andy if there's anyone he'd die to work with, and Andy picks Robert De Niro. ‘Challenge accepted’, the host says, claiming he can hook Andy up with the legend. In the Green Room, the mother (Regina Freedman) of a sick boy (Corey J. Smith) railroads Andy into visiting her son in the hospital.

“Maggie is excited to go home with her handsome new date (Paul Albertson)… until she discovers he still lives with his parents. When she tries to tell Andy about her horrific date, he has no time to hear it -- he's too busy working and hanging out with his new famous buddy, Jonathan Ross, who's invited him to ride in his convertible, play with his robot toys and loll around his estate. After another frustrating conversation with his agent, Andy tells is fed up: if Darren can't get a meeting with De Niro before Andy does, he's fired.”

Series-ending episodes are difficult to pull off, and parts of E6 falter. Andy becomes a prick awfully abruptly; it doesn’t make sense that he all of a sudden completely blows off Maggie and whatnot. The interjection of the sick kid subplot also doesn’t feel very natural; it pops in without fitting the show terribly well.

Despite those misfires, E6 manages to conclude the second season on a reasonably satisfying note. It doesn’t live up to the show’s best programs, but it comes around in an enjoyable way. Heck, E6 would be worth a look just to see Robert De Niro delight over a nudie pen.

DVD FIVE:

The Extra Special Series Finale: “’Tis the season to be jaded, at least if you’re Andy Millman. Despite the success of his highly-rated (but critically-panned) sitcom When the Whistle Blows, Andy can’t help but wonder if true artistic respectability will ever come his way. Andy decides to take drastic measures: he fires his loyal but useless agent Darren; pulls the plug on his hit show and turns down roles he considers ‘beneath him’. He even lashes out at his best friend Maggie, who admires the small measure of fame that Andy has achieved. It isn’t long before Andy begins to wonder: is success really worth it? Can he have both respect and fame? And is a man truly the sum of his parts, no matter how small they might be?”

Huh – I thought Extras was done when Gervais finished off Season Two. Apparently he decided to trot the show out for one last bow. Now that I’ve seen it, I wish he’d left well enough alone. While not a terrible episode, I think the “Finale” finishes things on a low note.

Though it throws out some laughs, the “Finale” seems much darker and more dramatic than the prior episodes. It makes Andy into a complete jerk and turns Maggie into a borderline suicidal pathetic figure. Neither characterization really feels right, especially in Andy’s case. Sure, he’s always had his moments of condescending pretension – and jerkiness, as was the case with the S2 finale - but I just don’t believe that he’d become quite such a horrible person.

Other parts of the show come across as more mean-spirited than usual. Take the Clive Owen guest spot during which his behavior prompts Maggie to give up acting. I know that the guest stars like to play terrible versions of themselves, but this “Clive” is absurdly cruel to Maggie. It’s a silly moment that stretches credulity and doesn’t work.

The episode’s sole real highlight comes from George Michael’s cameo. He pokes fun at himself on a few different levels and helps create the show’s best moment. A few other laughs emerge, but don’t expect a lot from this episode. Some might like its more dramatic flavor, but I think the show disappoints.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Extras appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, single-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Both seasons and the “Finale” looked a lot alike, so expect consistently decent but unexceptional visuals here.

Sharpness could be a bit off. I noticed some light edge haloes through the flick, and more than a few shots seemed a little soft. Most of the shows looked fine, though, as they featured perfectly adequate definition. I noticed minor examples of jagged edges and shimmering, and a few small specks popped up through the episodes. Source flaws were very modest, though.

Extras came as a series with a natural palette. Colors were consistently distinctive and vivid throughout the episodes. Very little stylization occurred as we got clear, concise tones. Blacks always seemed deep and full, while shadows were mostly clean and smooth. The occasional interior shot was a little murky, but otherwise low-light elements seemed concise. Overall, the series was watchable but not special in terms of visual quality.

As for the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Extras, it wasn’t memorable, but it grew as the series progressed, so S2 and the “Finale” were a little stronger than S1. Most of the improvement for S2/Finale came from the soundfield. S1 was largely monaural, and that didn’t change radically. However, I thought the environmental expanded to the sides and surrounds in a more satisfying manner than in the past. Music still showed good stereo presence, and the various effects elements opened up to a moderate degree. This wasn’t a consistently immersive piece, but it seemed pretty decent.

Audio quality usually appeared good. Speech displayed a bit of edginess at times but mostly remained natural and clean. Music was acceptably concise. The shows didn’t feature a lot of those elements, but they were fine when they appeared. Effects also seemed appropriately clear and accurate. Though I didn’t find anything special here, I thought the track was perfectly acceptable.

Don’t expect the picture and audio of the Season One and Season Two DVDs to alter what we found on the prior releases. Discs One through Four are the identical DVDs from the previous packages; HBO just stuck them in a slipcase with the added “Finale” platter.

In terms of supplements, Extras: The Complete Series rehashes the materials from the first two season sets and adds nothing new. A few pieces spread across DVDs One and Two. A total of seven Deleted Scenes appear. These include “Episode 1: Hymn” (1:43), “Episode 2: Department Store” (1:25), “Episode 3: Gypsy Joke” (3:42), “Episode 4: Waiter” (1:01), “Episode 4: Hiding from Dullard” (1:56), “Episode 5: Agent” (0:28), and “Episode 6: Agent Plugs Barry” (1:14). It’s always good to see more of Darren, so the two “Agent” clips are a hoot, and more Dullard also buoys “Waiter” and “Hiding”. However, “Joke” is the best of the bunch, as Maggie’s awkwardness makes it hilarious. The others are less interesting, but all deserve a look.

Sets of Outtakes show up on both DVDs as well. These run 10 minutes, 38 seconds on Disc One and eight minutes, four seconds on Disc Two. I’d hoped these might offer short lines and cut bits from episodes, but instead they’re nothing more than the usual bloopers. We get lots of giggles and very little to make these entertaining. Almost 20 minutes of goofs and laughing gets really tiresome.

The remaining supplements pop up on DVD Two. Finding Leo goes for nine minutes, 42 seconds as it features attempts by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to get a replacement for Jude Law. He shoots for Leonardo di Caprio, and “Finding” follows this journey. It’s an odd little piece but a fun one.

The Difficult Second Album provides a 21-minute and six-second behind the scenes look at the series. We hear from Gervais and Merchant as they discuss the challenge of following up the success of The Office. They also chat about the series’ context, casting and using various stars, character and performance notes, making the fake movie clips, shooting various sequences and a mix of experiences from the different episodes.

Though it’d have been nice to hear from others in addition to Merchant and Gervais, they make “Album” very enjoyable. They joke around a lot but also make sure they offer good details about making the series. We find plenty of nice insights in this solid little show.

DVD One opens with an ad for various HBO original programs and the original British version of The Office.

On DVDs Three and Four, the main attraction comes from a six-part documentary called Extras Backstage. Spread across both discs, it fills a total of 58 minutes, 37 seconds and includes a mix of show clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We find comments from series creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, actors Shaun Williamson and Liza Tarbuck, and guest performers Stephen Fry, Keith Chegwin, David Bowie, Daniel Radcliffe, Orlando Bloom, Chris Martin, Richard Briers, Ronnie Corbett, Jonathan Ross, and Robert Parkinson. “Backstage” looks at the nature of Extras, its characters and relationships, some thoughts about When the Whistle Blows, casting, guest stars and stories, shooting the programs and the atmosphere on the set, and a few other production elements.

Although “Backstage” doesn’t offer a point-by-point examination of Extras, it provides quite a few interesting notes. We get a pretty decent glimpse of the important issues for the season’s six episodes and plenty of amusing tidbits. I wish “Backstage” acted as a better overall take on the series – especially in terms of factors involved in its conclusion – but it nonetheless gives us a good take on its topics.

Sets of Outtakes show up on both DVDs as well. These run four minutes, three seconds on Disc One and four minutes, 49 seconds on Disc Two. These resemble the “Outtakes” from the S1 package, so don’t expect anything new. At least they’re shorter; they went for almost 20 minutes on the prior package, so I’m happy I don’t have to sit through so many shots of actors goofing and giggling.

The remaining supplements pop up on DVD Four. Taping Nigel: The Gimpening goes for 24 minutes, 17 seconds and presents editor Nigel Williams as he discusses all the forms of abuse Gervais heaps on him. Most of these actions involve tape and bizarre circumstances. It’s an odd and somewhat entertaining piece, though 24 minutes of this material seems like too much. This’d be more interesting as a five-minute featurette.

Finally, Art of Corpsing lasts 13 minutes, 39 seconds and features remarks from Gervais, Merchant, Williamson, Tarbuck, Radcliffe, and Chegwin. In this piece’s terms, “corpsing” refers to cracking up during take and ruining the shot. This means we’re often stuck simply watching more outtakes, but at least the actors offer some thoughts about “corpsing” and how it impacts the production. Those don’t quite redeem this show, but they make it a little more useful than the outtakes reels.

DVD Three opens with an ad for the original British version of The Office.

Ricky Gervais created an amusing take on show biz with Extras, a usually very entertaining series. It suffers from a few ups and downs, and the “Finale” disappoints, but there’s too much good comedy here for the occasional duds to bother me. The DVDs provide acceptable picture and audio along with a smattering of decent supplements.

For fans who don’t own the individual Extras season DVDs, this "Complete Series" is a great deal. You get both S1 and S2 of the show for less than they’d cost separately and you receive the "Finale" as well. If you already have the individual season packages, though, there’s no reason to get this release. HBO will put out the "Finale" on its own so just grab that.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main