Season 2 Episode 7

Christmas Special

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Dec 27, 2007 on BBC Two

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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  • Good, but not great. The real reward is watching Steve dance around to the sound of his own ringtone.

    Well, it's come to this, the Extras finale, and possibly a send-off (for the moment at least) to the fine TV work of writing, directing and acting duo Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant. And yet I am a bit relieved, because Extras towards the end has begun to fall away and I suspect Gervais and Merchant need some time to work on other projects before returning. The Extras Special was an excellent piece of television, but far from perfect and similarly far from the best these two, or even this series, has produced.

    The end of Extras series 2 disappointed me, because nothing had gone anywhere. There were some laughs, but all the characters remained undeveloped and there were no storyline pay-offs. So I was looking to the Extras Christmas special to tie everything together and bring the series to a head. And it did, with the interesting development of how Andy deals with stepping into the spotlight of fame, and more importantly with the cold chill of stepping back out of it. If Series 1 was about Andy being a no body, and Series 2 was about him attempting to become a somebody, then the Special is very much about him finding that somebody, and realising that somebody is, in fact, a bastard.

    Thus, the series marked a significant character development for Gervais - clearly hoping to impress Hollywood - and he is clearly bursting every blood vessel to deliver a consumate performance. The actual result is something slightly less than that; he does deliver a fine performance at the end in a tear-jerking scene, but there are several times when he tries a little to hard and the subtlety is lost.

    Ashley Jansen is the true star of the dramatic scenes, and its impossible not to get sucked in to performance as a depressed and frustrated Maggie. Personally I think there needs to be some sort of award in it for her for this one.

    Merchant, however, is absolute dynamite, and accompanied with Barry from EastEnders, he yields the most enjoyable parts of the Special. He is flawlessly funny, but like Jansen is able to hang on to the desperate pitifull aspects of the character which is what invests some much of our emotional funds. This, however, only results in mild disappointment when both the Agent and Barry's storylines are left to fend for themselves, and not given the real closure that they deserve.

    The biggest problem with the special is not hard to pin-point; ultimately Gervais and Merchant seemed to have written a comedy script and then said "Hold on, we need to put some dramatic bits in as well so all the fans will say 'w0w s0 emoshinal i cryed!'". The Special artlessly switches between quirkly comedy and tragic drama, making the drama seem schmatlzy and the comedy seem nervously stilted. This is coupled with an interminable score (featuring the basic Christmas production music over every scene and an overly used Kate Bush song that literally make me jump from fright the first time it came on), and some by-the-numbers directing that seemed to be yearning for the big screen with every unneccesary tracking shot. Gervais and Merchant seem to have lost focus, and the quality and writing and directing is only imperfect in its structure. Each line is funny or dramatic or whatever, but nothing fits together and nothing flows. Not easy viewing.

    It is also worth mentioning the references that were intended directly for an American audience, such as Katie Couric and Sigourney Weaver's Direct TV ads. There is a slight air of shameless pandering to it all that seems to conflict with the message of how shamelessly pandering TV has become.

    A slightly dissatisfying ending to a series that would generate our highest expectations doesn't seem unusual, and it would have been hard to live up to the hype. Ultimately though, the Christmas Special does give us a few comedy treats as well as a serious and sobering message about celebrity in the modern era. My hope that Gervais and Merchant wait a while before they return to unleash the full force of there genius and manage to create a series that overcomes the flaws of Extras.
  • A Comedy Episode which has the ability to move the viewer as well as make them laugh is what is turns it from a good comedy to a classic

    The British nation is obsessed with Celebrity tittle tattle and Merchant and Gervais turn their last ever episode of this sitcom into a thought provoking and moving comment on the shallowness of the Big Brother and X Factor fed society.

    Its not an episode that will please all devotees but it goes out with a big bang. Like the final ever episode of Blackadder Goes Forth here was an ending to a sitcom with a sad but poignant message. Well done to all concerned with this episode.

    The fact that these writers can command the biggest A Listers to some and send themselves up - Clive Owen, George Michael to name but two - is a testament to how much th ewriting is highly regarded
  • This was such a disappointing last episode, I think all other episodes of the show were brilliant and think they should have left it where it was.

    I couldn't wait for this Christmas special episode of Extras, I had no doubt that it would be just as funny as the previous episodes, sadly I was wrong. I thought it was throughout extremely unfunny, yeah I laughed now and then but not half as much as I should have. It wasn't unwatchable but in my view I thought it was very un Extras. A lot of the scenes were sad and had sad depressing music in the background, fair enough one scene but it was extremely overdone. It was fairly predictable at times as well, I thought the guest stars could have been used in a better way, Gordon Ramsey was actually the only one that stood out. I liked the celebrity Big Brother idea but I thought that could have been ten times funnier. Basically I think they shouldn't have made this episode, it should have stayed where it was. So disappointing!!
  • Hollywood cliches and Ricky Gervais ripping himself off! How is that possible? I don't know!

    I have yet to be disappointed by anything Ricky Gervais does. That is, until this Christmas Special. I was so looking forward to this episode too!

    I think a bit of Andy Millman started to leak into Ricky's brain (aaaahhhhh Riiiicky), as it felt like the very Hollywood movie Mr. Millman was whining about getting into all this time. The emotional cliches, the incidental music, the oh my gosh look at what fame does to you and how it affects the people you love! it was all there. Part of what made Extras and The Office such amazing series was their lack of background music (or very sparse, if any). It added a level of realism, like you were suffering right along with the characters. Very Ernest Hemingway! And there was just the right amount of emotion, believable emotion, not the kind that every other movie would have you feel. What am I trying to say... it felt like the emotions were forced on us, rather than us feeling them right along with the characters, in this special. But what about the jokes?! You didn't make any jokes, Andy... any new ones anyway! They all felt very forced and/or recycled. Also, are we just supposed to forget about that whole thing with Robert DiNiro?! I was under the impression that this special existed to tie up loose ends such as The Office specials did for that series.

    Nitpicking aside, it wasn't all bad! I mean, I wasn't completely bored out of my mind watching it or anything. Like a lot of fellow viewers, I loved Andy's huge speech at the end about the film/tv industry. It made me cry. It made me cry a lot! I was bawling like a little girl. Very, very good speech, one of the best I've heard in a christmas special! It wasn't enough to make me forget the rest of the episode, however it was nice to end on a high note. And flying into the sea is such a cute idea! Penguins or flying fish, I love it!

    Aaaanyway, you should definately watch it if you've seen the series. Just don't get your hopes up too much!
  • what to say...

    I thought the episode was overall good, but at times it was truly painful to watch, it was like the last episodes of The Office, where Ricky Gervais' character becomes ridiculusly arrogant and stuck up. I particularly felt bad during the scene where the extra asks Andy to get him some lines, and Andy obviously has forgotten what it was like to be an extra, although it was only like a year ago... And when his self-centeredness goes to far that he can't even ask his friend how she is doing or even listen to her when she's trying to get some comfort from him. Perhaps it's for the best that this was the last episode, I wouldn't like to see that side of him again...
  • the finale

    A Kramer doll? Pure brilliance, the kind of thing you can only get from a Ricky Gervais comedy.

    The only problem with British shows is that they only contain six episodes per series, and most shows end after two series (the Fawlty Towers method.)

    But everything else was just great. You had an excellent take on the Hollywood life and how sometimes being on top is not that great a thing. The scenes with Stephen Merchant at the cell phone shop were great, as even my sister, who has a low attention span, was loving it.

    Ricky Gervais became a breakout star in this series. How many other people can do that in 12 episodes?
  • A perfectly constructed sleight at fame. The conclusion of this groundbreaking series is at once hilarious, powerful and resonant. All engines firing on the comedy and drama front.

    Ricky Gervais' comedy about the struggles of an aspiring actor has always provided an unequaled insight into the hard slog of performance life and Gervais' has concluded this acclaimed series with one of the most entertaining finales I have witnessed. Both the philisophical and comedic engines are at full throttle and this Christmas Special has the feel of a film and the power of one too. It's somewhat ironic that this is a Christmas Special as such 'tv events' are often gimmicky and redundant addendum's to completed series or cynical ratings driven exercises, this episode actually adds to the series and is a finely sculpted encapsulation of the series as a whole it is both tradgedy and comedy in equal measure. Gervais' in his usual self referential and hyper aware style makes reference to the abhorrence of most of these Xmas specials and the makes clear through Andy his feelings about shows that become predictable and overstay their welcome in this way illuminating his own struggles with shows such as The Office and Extras. Gervais is renound for his dislike for pursuing fame for the sake of fame and continuing tv series for the sake of money and/or fame and this episode pronounces these sentiments with verve. It is a wake up call for those obsessed with attaining the celebrity lifestyle, and a kick in the teeth for those vacuous enough to enjoy watching the celebrity circus, a reminder that we are all responsible for the perpetuation of the cruel lie of fame, and it's empty promises are of our own making as much as the media, and corporate suits.