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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:
What happens when an unknown actor who can't catch a break actually catches one? For Andy Millman, who's just broken through with a TV sitcom called "When the Whistle Blows", celebrity doesn't necessarily mean happiness - it just means your follies and fauxes-pas get that much more attention. Extras ... The show with big, big stars ... and Andy Millman.

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: 7/10/2007

Bonus:
Disc One
• “Extras Backstage” Documentary
• Outtakes
Disc Two
• “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 Second Season (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2007)

No one can accuse Ricky Gervais of overstaying his welcome. His series Extras debuted with its first season in 2005 – and finished up not too long later. Two seasons and out – that’s it for Extras!

Given that both seasons combined only present 12 episodes, it becomes tough to tire of the world of Extras. I enjoyed S1 quite a lot, so I looked forward to S2. I’ll look at all six episodes of Extras Season Two here. The plot synopses come straight from the show’s official website.

DVD ONE:

Episode One: Orlando Bloom: “Maggie (Ashley Jensen) 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 (Gervais) 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 (Stephen Merchant), 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 TWO:

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 series 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.


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. Season Two looked an awful lot like Season One.

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 seemed a little stronger than what I heard for Season 1. Most of the improvement came from the soundfield. S1 was largely monaural, and that didn’t change radically here. 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.

In terms of supplements, 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 Two. 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 One opens with an ad for the original British version of The Office.

Extras ends its (intentionally) short run with Season Two. If forced to pick, I’d say I prefer Season One, but S2 offers plenty of good material and seems very satisfying. As for the DVD, it offers perfectly decent picture, audio and supplements. The package doesn’t dazzle, but the show is definitely good enough to encourage my recommendation.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 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