In Extras’ bête noire, The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s strengths lay in nailing the unbearable difficulty of living an average life in a Heat-obsessed world, here epitomised by Andy (Gervais) and pal Maggie’s (Ashley Jensen) futile search for acting credibility. Extras never works better than when it gets the star of tabloid tat circa 2002, Les Dennis, to strip and talk suicide. Spliced with footage of a young lady whose life has been ruined by her pushy, gay Dad, it smashes boundaries no other episode prods.
It’s with bigger stars that Extras splutters. In the Difficult Second Album doc, the writers insist the show’s not about patting themselves on the back over their celebrity mates – and if you watch the haphazard, unprofessional way they try to get hold of Leonardo DiCaprio in the hilarious Finding Leo doc, you’ll be surprised they have any celeb pals at all. But while the cameos may be funny, it’s all too easy for an A-lister to knock themselves – and it’s been done better on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Extras on the double-discer include hilarious goofs and decent docs, but watch closely and you’ll see characters still in development and gags held over from The Office. Inspired. Tired. Starfucking. Amusing. Slow. Cringing. Average? Extras is the most frustrating sitcom for decades.
BEST BIT: SAS? “Super Army Soldiers,” says delusional hardman Ross Kemp.