Review: Rickey Gervais & Stephen Merchant's Show "Extras"
"Extras" is such a rare show. It's hilarious, but it's also utterly authentic, and it really cares about its characters. It's never afraid to kill the comedic rhythm of the show to spend time with a character in distress, and to deal with that distress face on. It's a lot like Ricky Gervais' first brilliant series, "The Office," but far more subtle, far less interested in ending with a big laugh or in maintaining a strategic comedic structure. "Extras" has a very Wes Andersonesque feel. Gervais, and his co-creator Stephen Merchant, much like Anderson, show a masterful control of tone.
The preface of the show is a brilliant move, allowing Gervais and Merchant to capitalize on their past successes and bring in big name film stars who, along with the rest of the world, fell in love with "The Office." My problem with the preface, strangely enough, is that, unlike virtually every other television show I've ever enjoyed, "Extras" has not a single constant set or location. There's something about always being in the same place every episode that makes you feel at home through the life a show. "The Office", for example, is so much about the physical location that it becomes one of the characters. This is missing from "Extras", since "Extras" hardly ever shoots in the same place twice.
This point aside, Gervais went less commercial, smaller, less obvious, and ever more character driven in his follow up. I can only imagine how daunting it must be to have to compete with a show as brilliant as "The Office". Nonetheless, they've done it, masterfully.
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