Some thoughts on "Extras" just as soon as I do a quality-control test on the new Sepinwall talking action figure...
"Extras" is technically a co-production between the BBC and HBO, but Gervais and Merchant have never much bothered with concessions for their American audience. The first episode of the series (which HBO aired fourth, for understandable reasons) was built around a rivalry between Ross Kemp (who?) and Vinnie Jones (slightly less of a who?, though you have to be either a soccer or Guy Ritchie fan to care). Another episode had Les Dennis (again, who?) as its main guest star, and a big gag in the season two premiere dealt with Keith Chegwin (huh?) being brought in for a small role after Paul Shane (really, at this point I'm lost) turned it down. And the final episode of this season is going to hang heavily on Jonathan Ross (vague idea).
Obviously, the show's also used plenty of very famous guests, but the fact that Gervais and Merchant never bother to explain who the For Brit Eyes Only guests are, or what some of Andy's older cultural references are about, occasionally gets in the way for me. I get that Chegwin's a newscaster of some kind who has no idea how to act, but I had no idea who Ronnie Corbett was or what he looked like, so when Andy mentioned last week that he lost his virginity to a girl who looked like Corbett, it didn't resonate (for all I knew, Ronnie was short for Veronica), and when he stumbled into that men's room stall with Darren doing coke with none other than Mr. Corbett, it wasn't nearly as funny as it no doubt would have been for fans on the other side of the pond. (Plus, as Gervais explained to me when I expressed some confusion, Ronnie Corbett is apparently the last famous man in England you would expect to find doing lines in a men's room stall. Again, over my head.)
Still, this was another painfully funny example of Andy winning fame without respect, suffering one humiliation after another, from his "Pretty Woman" revenge fantasy going wrong due to his own cheapness to the action figure gag to being banned from even the Welsh BAFTAs. Plus, Chris Martin whored himself out nicely in his cameo, and I loved the look on Andy's face as he watched Martin pointlessly sing "Fix You" on the "When the Whistle Blows" stage. On the one hand, he's disgusted that he's again allowed his vision to be so terribly compromised; on the other hand, he's obviously pleased to have such a great view of the performance.
What did everybody else think?