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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:
Having made his name with the popular comedy series The Office, British funnyman Ricky Gervais used his newfound fame to entice a cluster of huge stars to his next project. Extras finds Gervais playing Andy Millman, a lowly extra who spends most of his life whiling away the hours on film and TV sets as he awaits a mercifully brief appearance in a new production. Millman's friend, Maggie (Ashley Jensen), is also an extra, and finds herself in a similar predicament. Most of the episodes find Millman sidling up to the biggest celebrity on set in a desperate attempt to get himself out of the extras business, but his lack of tact and his bad luck usually leave him right back where he started. Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, and a number of British TV celebrities such as Les Dennis and Ross Kemp all feature in this first season of the show.

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: 180 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 1/9/2007

Bonus:
Disc One
• 3 Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
Disc Two
• 4 Deleted Scenes
• “The Difficult Second Album” Featurette
• “Finding Leo” Featurette
• Outtakes


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Extras: The Complete First Season (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2007)

As his follow-up to the very successful 2001-2003 series The Office, Ricky Gervais decided to lampoon the film industry – from the inside perspective. That led to the debut of Extras in 2005. It didn’t last long, but that was Gervais’s ideas. Two seasons and 12 episodes later, Extras wrapped.

We’ll deal with Season Two at a later time, because now we need to begin at the beginning. I’ll look at all six episodes of Extras Season One here. The plot synopses come straight from the show’s official website.

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.


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

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. While the shows always looked decent, they lacked great sparkle.

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.

In addition, the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Extras seemed pretty average. For the most part, the soundfield appeared not much more than monaural. On occasion, music showed decent stereo spread, and we got a few examples of effects from the sides. These demonstrated minor movement but there wasn’t a lot of breadth to the mix. Surround usage also remained minor, as the back speakers added very little to the piece.

Audio quality usually seemed 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.

A few supplements spread across both discs. 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.

Season One of Extras offers so much fun that I can’t wait to dig into Season Two. The series skewers the film industry and delves into the lives of its characters with warmth and great humor. The DVD presents pretty mediocre picture, audio and extras. Though this isn’t exactly a demo release, the shows itself are more than entertaining enough to deserve your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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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