blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Extras (2005) s01e04 – Les Dennis

The episode starts with Ricky Gervais visiting agent Stephen Merchant—who may or may not have a new hair cut, which may or may not be silly—and then they go off to a theater to get Gervais a proper acting job. Well, the genie in a production of “Aladdin.” But he’s got lines.

There’s a lot of jokes at Gervais’s expense about his weight and appearance. Not so much about his acting ability, which the show has until this point implied is shitty. They meet Les Dennis, who’s a British TV host and standup comic or something. Apparently it’s odd episodes where Gervais is trying to target non-British audiences, even ones where it’s UK-only.

I mean, when “Extras” aired in 2006 or whatever… there was barely even YouTube. How would you find out about Les Dennis? Left with the show’s impression of him he’s a very sad guy who’s dating a younger woman, Nicky Ladanowski, who’s going to take him for his money. He’s not funny anymore and he whines a lot. The episode is about fifteen minutes of him whining to Gervais, whose character has become downright cuddly by episode four. Gone are most of his previous obnoxious traits.

He does still make fun of Ashley Jensen for not being smart, but it’s pretty much just that one joke. The rest of the time he’s just listening to the whining. Meanwhile, Jensen—who doesn’t appear for so long into the episode I had started panicking she wouldn’t appear; the prospect of “Extras” without her is a daunting one—anyway, she’s got a subplot with Rebecca Gethings and Gerard Kelly. Gethings is one of the dancers, Kelly is her dad and the “Aladdin” producer. He’s gay—Gervais and Jensen are sure—but he’s got a daughter and they don’t understand.

Instead of it being he’s bi or something, it turns out he’s long in the closet with a suffering wife at home and so on. But, you know, it’s funny.

Because Jensen goes to a party at the house and very strange hijinks.

There’s a level of competency to the episode but it’s not very good. Even for “Extras.”

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