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It really couldn't possibly get any worse for Andy Millman. Seriously.
Following on from last week's Down Syndrome debacle, Andy kicked-off tonight's show with a charity video appeal, only to subsequently find his entire BBC sitcom hijacked by a shamelessly self-promoting Chris Martin.
However, the Coldplay front-man's repeated attempts to hawk a forthcoming greatest hits album was really only the start of Andy's problems, as he ended up nominated for a BAFTA award and finally caught a glimpse of some of light at the end of the tunnel.Of course, this is Extras we're talking about here, and a glimmer of good fortune can really only ever represent potential disaster as far as Andy Millman is concerned.
Not only was his agent preparing a prototype Andy doll (based on the ridiculous lead character of his sitcom, Ray Stokes -- replete with an audible "are you 'avin a laugh?" voice feature), but his friend Maggie didn't have a dress to wear to the awards ceremony. Then, in a vain attempt to impress upon the rude owner of a designer dress boutique, Andy offered to purchase the dress Maggie wanted for the big night out, discovering to his pain that it carried a hugely over-inflated price-tag.
If the sight of Chris Martin performing a solo version of "Fix You" in the middle of Andy's banal sitcom wasn't enough to send the audience gnawing at their knuckles in a fit of squirming, then Andy's rapidly-deteriorating situation at the BAFTA awards ceremony was.
It started with his agent, Darren Lamb, arriving noisily in the middle of the obituary segment of the ceremony and insensitively setting off the prototype Andy doll, much to the disgust of the entire audience -- only to be followed by Andy's failure to win an award, then finding himself banned forever from the BAFTA awards when security guards caught him inadvertently stuck in a lavatory cubicle with a cocaine-sniffing Ronnie Corbett.
I had a pillow in front of my face for most of the second half of the show, screaming and laughing in equal measure.
Extras truly is comedy at its most unbearably painful, and yet it's also outrageously funny at the same time.
Ricky Gervais continues to re-invent the genre with an endless succession of disastrous comedy scenarios, while still managing to deliver subtle moments of pathos with such fleeting little segueways like Andy's brief gaze at Maggie's transformation in the expensive evening dress.
But it's almost too difficult to watch, at times -- a bit like peeking through your fingers at a visceral horror movie or standing dumbfounded as a slow-motion car crash unfolds.
But it's always a class act, and I honestly can't believe that next week's show will be the penultimate episode of this second series.
Gervais -- if you're reading this: we want more.
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