UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of HBO

Extras

Comedy series teaches us about friendship, the film industry and the antics of actors

By Paul F. McKenna

Extras
Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, starring Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Ashley Jensen


Extras is a series that provides audiences with further evidence of the comedic talents of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Following the success of their earlier series, The Office, Gervais and Merchant expand a particular talent for humour that is charmingly human and humane.

Here we’re introduced to Andy Millman (Gervais), who works as an extra on various productions while awaiting his break as a legitimate actor. Millman is a benign presence seeking to rise above his circumstances. He receives the world’s clumsiest assistance from his agent, Darren Lamb (Merchant). More positive support comes from Andy’s friendship with Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen).

Over the course of 13 episodes, we learn much about friendship, the film industry and the antics of actors.

What distinguishes Gervais and Merchant is their capacity to conjure up real pathos for their comedic characters. There is a deep poignancy in their portrayals of people struggling against their own limitations and the worlds they inhabit. The writers draw more inspiration from the British tradition of The Two Ronnies than from Monty Python. With guest appearances from a diverse range of stars including David Bowie, Diana Rigg, Ben Stiller, George Michael, Orlando Bloom and Kate Winslet, the show deftly satirizes the entertainment industry.

Millman is eventually rewarded with his own sitcom, When the Whistle Blows, and must come to grips with the shallowness of his longing for celebrity.

Brilliant writing, combined with flawless comic performances by Merchant and Gervais, makes the series graceful, insightful and enriching to watch.


Paul F. McKenna is a Toronto writer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image