The second season of the wildly popular Extras television show has arrived on DVD and those questioning whether the show could top such brilliant episodes as the Kate Winslet and Patrick Stewart outings from the first season need not worry. While the guest stars may be less impressive to some, the second season comes out the gate swinging with Orlando Bloom, David Bowie and Daniel Radcliffe in the first three episodes (granted there are only six in each season, but still). Not only do the guest stars remain superb, but the writing is just as strong and the situation with Maggie (Ashley Jensen) and Orlando Bloom in the first episode alone is absolutely hilarious to watch.
In this second (and apparently final) season of Extras Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) continues with the development of his script from the first season. Despite his intent to make the show the way he wants it, he quickly gives into the pressure of the network when he realizes that he either does what they want or he gets thrown back into being an extra once again. Amidst the mayhem of the production of his show, “When the Whistle Blows”, Maggie and Darren Lamb (Stephen Merchant) have their own focus this season, more so for Maggie due to her being the only real “extra” whose life we get to see continue in this season. Luckily she guests on Millman’s show and in a film with him so the chemistry the two shared in the first season isn’t wasted in this second season.
There isn’t a weak episode in this bunch and while there may be an episode or two that isn’t as hilarious as the others (the Chris Martin one is the only episode that was slightly weaker than the others), they are all hilarious pieces of work that I gladly place beside my series set of The Office. Aside from the aforementioned first trio of episodes, the Ian McKellen episode alongside the final episode are true gems of the series. With the McKellen episode and the Vaseline scene and the final episode with the Andy and Darren masturbation scene (watching the special features of this scene being filmed makes you appreciate it even more—if you thought you laughed during that scene, it’s nothing compared to the laughing Merchant, Gervais and Shaun Williamson [who plays Barry] had going on during the recording) is just rib splitting.
The laughter you get from Extras isn’t in the same vein you get from your garden variety half hour comedy show. Throughout the episodes the writing remains taught and smart and it’s easy to see why Gervais insists on ending these shows early, as they run the risk of getting old. As a viewer who understands that, however, it still sucks that we won’t see more of Millman and Co., though I’m hoping for the possibility of a Christmas special still—it needs to happen and one can only hope it happens sooner, rather than later.
Extras: The Complete Second Season arrives in a two-disc amaray case with an insert detailing the contents of each disc. On the outside of the case is a cardboard slip that does not have repeated art underneath (a rarity). Menus are animated and colorful, with Millman from the “When the Whistle Blows” animated intro asking “Are you havin’ a laugh?” in between menus (hilarious at first, gets kind of annoying when you’re poking around the disc).
Video and audio for this release is strong and while the audio is only a 2.0 stereo mix, this show really doesn’t need anything stronger. I didn’t notice any transfer errors with the video, which is odd due to the PAL-to-NTSC conversion, I figured there might be something (I could have sworn there was ghosting on The Office UK release, but it’s been awhile since I’ve watched it). Subtitles in English, French and Spanish are also provided.
Moving onto the special features, we get a healthy clump. While there are no episodes with commentary, there are episode specific “Backstage” documentaries for each episode which delves into the episodes and between the six documentaries they run nearly a full hour. Interviews from the specific actors in each episode are often provided, although we don’t hear much from Orlando Bloom throughout these or the other special features.
Two featurettes are located on the second disc, “Taping Nigel: The Gimpening” and “Art of Corpsing.” The Nigel featurette is slightly odd, as it is, I presume, not something that Gervais actually forced Nigel to do, as Nigel seems to break “character” in a few scenes with laughter, something I don’t think the Nigel we see throughout would do otherwise when being taped up. It’s hard to tell for sure what’s a joke and what isn’t, but one thing is for sure: Gervais had a riot making this, as I’ve never heard such roaring laughter from him and that’s even after watching all of the other special features.
The other featurette, “Art of Corpsing”, details the immense amount of laughter that went on during the shooting of this series. “Corpsing” is when you break character during a scene and begin laughing and not being able to stop. Nearly all of the actors and guests on the show have done it, with Gervais doing the largest amount, laughing even when he’s not even in the scene and laughing even moreso in the ones he is in.
Outtakes are provided on each set as well, but there isn’t too much overall (under ten minutes with both discs combined). Luckily, however, those looking for more bloopers need only look at the other special features, which curiously contain a lot of bloopers themselves, none of which are repeated in the outtake reels.
There is one disappointing aspect of this DVD, however: the packaging states there are deleted scenes, but I was unable to locate a single one. Unless they were put into the episodes themselves (I’ve only seen the second season once prior and I watched all six in a row so my memory of what was in each episode is hazy). Making up for the deleted scenes are two easter eggs on the second disc, however. They’re short, but the second one in particular is hilarious if only because it’s nothing you’d expect to find on a DVD, even as an extra.
Overall this DVD set is a must for all those who are fans of Gervais’s work. Some may not enjoy this brand of biting humor, but American audiences are warming up to it with the success of the US The Office and those wondering what one of the show’s original creators is up to need to look no further than Extras: while not as fresh as The Office was when it originally arrived from the pens of Gervais and Merchant, Extras is equally as funny and worth owning. Highly Recommended.
Extras: The Complete Second Season is now available on DVD.