DVD REVIEW: EXTRAS: The Complete Series

EXTRAS: The Complete Series

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If there was ever a TV series I wanted to see continue, but was just as glad it didn’t, was HBO’s EXTRAS. Unlike so many American comedy shows-hell, we even have a term for it: “jumping the shark”-EXTRAS never overstayed its welcome. Ricky Gervais and his co-creator/writer Stephen Merchant (the two worked on the original British version of The Office) created television gold, which has been collected in this box set EXTRAS: The Complete Series.

Season one we meet Gervais’ Andy Millman, Millman’s best friend (also an extra with him on movie sets and TV), Maggie, played perfectly by Ashley Jensen, and Andy’s hapless lanky agent Darren, played by Stephen Merchant. Andy’s slow rise to fame, his humiliations from directors and producers, his consistent shoving his foot firmly down his mouth, and plenty of mishaps produce some of the most cringe-worthy moments ever shown on TV. There are some priceless moments with celebrities too: a dirty-talking Kate Winslet, verbal sparring with Ben Stiller and script wrangling with Patrick Stewart. In fact, so many celebrities abound in the series that each episode is named after the celebrity featured in it.

The second season of EXTRAS sees Andy getting his own BBC series and finding and fighting the fame from the insipid TV show he creates. David Bowie, Daniel Radcliffe and in the very last show, none other than Robert DeNiro make appearances.

For me the jewel is the last DVD, “The Extra Special Series Finale.” I’d be hard pressed to remember a more heartwarming hour and a half of TV, from the use of Kate Bush’s “The Woman’s Work” to Andy’s speech to Maggie at the end, this is the gold standard all TV should work towards.

All four DVD’s of the regular season include bonus stuff, dare I say extras? These include unused takes, hilarious outtake reels, and documentary featurettes.

EXTRAS really was one of those amazing, all too rare NOT politically correct TV series. Burning brilliantly for what amounts to little more then 12 half hours, this show made you laugh aloud, think, even cry a bit…and ache when it was over. Gervais, Merchant, and the rest of the talented people involved left us with no more extra than what you get in EXTRAS The Complete Series.

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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