review: extras – series two, episode four

October 7, 2006

extras_s02e04.jpg
It isn’t the jokes, or the appearances of various guest stars, or the opportunity to see (yet again) Andy waver uneasily under the burden of acute embarrasment. No, the best thing about this week’s episode is Chris Martin’s inspired rendition of the Extras end title theme, “Tea for the Tillerman,” with Ricky Gervais on backup vocals. It lasts only fifteen seconds or so, but it is easily the most unique and interesting piece of this sub-par installment. From the promise of the second episode to this nadir of comedic achievement, it’s been quite a fall. What happened?

Things start off promisingly enough, with rock star Chris Martin spoofing himself as a hopelessly self-important promoter of his band’s “The Greatest Hits” album, landing himself, over Andy’s objections, a ludicrous starring role on Andy’s sitcom. After the performance, which we have the pleasure of watching, he disappears from the episode, which switches over to a tedious story about Andy and Maggie’s trip to the BAFTAs (he’s been nominated, you see) with Stephen Merchant’s doltish agent character in tow.

Maggie, whose lack of prudence usually proves endearing, is simply grating here as we are forced to watch (repeatedly) as her indiscretions humiliate Andy, much to his misfortune. Stephen Fry pops up briefly for an amusing aside, as does Ronnie Corbett–not that I really know who he is beyond his being the butt of many jokes on the program–and his affinity for snorting fine white powder…in the restroom.

We end with a shockingly indignant denouncement of Andy by a woman whom he formerly dated, and while it certainly seem like it ought to be funny in light of other events, I found it more depressing than anything else; her criticisms of him were, in the end, more or less accurate (though certainly absurd). Cut to credits, then to a tasteless coda. Fin.

Next Week: Hope is not lost, as the great Sir Ian McKellen comes for a visit. If anyone can stop the decline, it shall be he.

–D. S. W.

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