Going the Extra
Office creator Ricky Gervais returns with a second season of HBO show
that amplifies its first.
Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais in character at the British
As he did with “The
Office,” Ricky Gervais has created a second season of “Extras,” his HBO
show, that builds on the first by fearlessly plunging his own lead
character into deeper sinkholes of embarrassment. (See
first season review from fall 2005).
Gervais raises the stakes by making his character, movie extra Andy
Millman, the star of a cliché-ridden sitcom on the BBC entitled “When
The Whistle Blows.” The sitcom started out meaning to be an artistic
endeavor like Gervais’ own work, but is quickly reduced to the lowest
common denominator by the network’s executives. Millman is put into a
curly-haired wig and glasses and given a catchphrase, doubling the
And tripling the humiliation, this season’s celebrity cameos usually
find Millman compared unfavorably to the celebrity in question, to
greatest effect when David Bowie improvises a song insulting him when
they encounter each other in the VIP section of a nightclub.
Also, by giving Millman some level of success, however cheesy, instead
of just being kicked off of extra work for some social misstep, Gervais
makes it possible for the character to embarrass himself in ever grander
ways -- like at the British film and television awards (BAFTAs) in front
of all his peers, and in an attempt at acting in a prestigious play
where he lets his homophobia get the better of him.
By taking the series in this direction, Gervais has found a whole new
way to pack a lot of humor into a small screen show. The only drawback
is that like with “The Office,” Gervais may decide he’s gone out on top
and end this series right there.