Saturday, 23 September 2006

Review: Extras Series Two, Episode Two

by Charles Pooter

Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman (the "chubby little loser") with David Bowie.

The first few minutes of Extras episode two are really the last few minutes of When The Whistle Blows episode one. This is our second look at the fictional lowest-common-denominator comedy of Ricky Gervais' nightmares. We can see that all Andy's fears have been realised: he's written and starred in a wigs-and-catchphrases based sitcom. When Whistle ends with a lame Green, Green Grass style theme tune, we see Andy nursing his wounds, with his "useless agent", Darren Lamb. There have been some scathing reviews in the press, which the agent asks Barry to read out. There is some good news, however, as the episode had 6 million viewers. This is where the good news ends however as the rest of the episode brings humiliation after humiliation for Andy as he pays the price for selling-out.

We constantly hear B list celebrities moaning about how awful fame is. This episode of Extras is Ricky Gervais telling us that it's true. He's also saying that some celebrities deserve it. First Andy is recognised by a homeless person and emotionally blackmailed into giving him 20 quid, then Andy tries to use his fame to impress an attractive new neighbour, which leads to humiliation when Maggie inevitably messes-up her part of the plan (perhaps purposely, as I suspect Andy and Maggie will become more than just friends later in the series). Next we have every celeb's nighmare: the insane, obsessive fan.

As funny as this all is, the second episode wouldn't have lived-up to the first without the brilliant musical set piece at the end. Attempting to enjoy a night out without hassle from the British public, Andy, Maggie, Darren and Shaun ("Barry") end up in an expensive cocktail bar full of celebs and wannabes. Andy finds that he can't avoid the hecklers even here and tries to find refuge in the V.I.P. area with David Bowie. This leads to probably the best cameo in Extras so far, with Bowie performing an impromptu song in the bar detailing Andy's woes in insulting and depressing detail. Bowie encourages the whole bar to sing along, which they all do, including Andy's friends.

Some people claim they didn't find The Office funny because it was too painful to watch: they had to "watch it though their fingers" as the cliché goes. This episode of Extras was full of this kind of humour, with Andy very much like David Brent at his lowest ebb. But like with The Office, people who just find it painful are missing the point. There are some scenes which are more embarrasing than funny, like the scenes with the attractive neighbour, but there are also elements that are just straight-hilarious such as Andy performing in Whistle, the agent and "Barry" chatting up the women in the bar and throwaway characters like Count Fuckula. Finally there are the scenes which are painful and touching, but also snortingly hilarious, like David Bowie's song.

Speaking of David Bowie's song, here for your delectation are the full lyrics. I suspect that, like David Brent's classic Freelove Freeway, they were really written by Ricky Gervais:
Little fat man who sold his soul
Little fat man who sold his dream
Chubby little loser

Chubby little loser
National joke

Pathetic little fat man
No one's bloody laughing
The clown that no one laughs at
They all just wish he'd die

He's so depressed at being useless
The fat man takes his own life
He's so depressed at being hated
Fatty takes his own life
Fatso takes his own life
He blows his bloated face off
He blows his stupid brains out

He sold his soul for a shard of fame
Catchphrase and wig and the jokes are lame
He's got no style
He's got no grace
He's banal and facile
He's a fat waste of space

He's banal and facile
He's a fat waste of space

See his pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug
See his pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug

See his pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug
The little fat man with the pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug
The little fat man with the pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug
He's a little fat man with a pugnose face
Pug, pug, pug, pug

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah i would agree with that review, although I think that this episode was much funnier than the first. Orlando Bloom didnt really have to be in the first, whereas Bowie's song was just the funniest thing on tv since "the dance"

David said...

Nice review, guys. I've written my own appraisal (here), in case you'd care to take a look.

Anonymous said...

a dead cert for no.1

Jake said...

pretty sure the lyric is "sold his soul for a shot at fame"

:)

Anonymous said...

no, i'm pretty sure it was "shard"