Extras: The Complete First Season 

2005

If you wondered about the level of expectation for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's follow-up to the critically adored "The Office," it's right there in the title of a behind-the-scenes featurette: "The Difficult Second Album." A show doomed to failure before most had even seen it, the choruses of "overrated" were considerable, but somehow, Gervais and Merchant deliver yet again, presenting an often bitingly funny portrait of an actor struggling to make it big.
 
Of course, the hook is that with their newfound fame, Gervais and Merchant enticed a who's who of high-profile actors to lend a sense of authenticity; watching Kate Winslet opine about winning an Oscar for playing "a mental" is as excruciatingly hilarious as watching Andy Millman (Gervais) wrestle with his dismal career prospects.
 
Gervais and Merchant's less-is-more approach (as with "The Office," only six episodes per season) make this a fleeting delight, but one worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

 "?Preston Jones

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