Extr@ Episode 4: Sam Looks for a Job

Welcome to another post in the Extr@ Watchalong Party! Today’s theme is jobs. We will learn how to apply for a job online, how to be restaurant servers, how to handle inappropriate bosses, and how to moan that we don’t earn enough money. If you have not yet seen this very educational episode, here are the links to watch it in German, French, Spanish, and even English.

“Ich brauche mehr Geld!”

Episode 4 is, story-wise, the most complex chapter so far. It weaves together two conflicts: Sasha needs a job and Sam won’t tell anyone he is a millionaire. He has been dropping hints since Episode 1 . . . but everyone just misunderstands him.

We also see a bit more romantic tension between Sam and Sasha. It’s adorable that Sam, who could buy Sasha an entire restaurant, decides to help her out by being a waiter. On the other hand, it’s a little strange that Sasha and Anna think the perfect job for him is one that requires the most language practice!

Sam’s server lessons with Nic also brought back memories of high school French class. I imagine that everyone who takes a foreign language in school has to perform a restaurant skit at some point!

“Ich habe gehört, dass Stefan ein Spitzname hat . . .”

I had hoped that all the versions would have the same actor playing the boss, the way the same actor plays Sam. But perhaps the sleazy boss stereotype looks different depending on the country. German Stefan and French Stefan don’t really wave red flags for me, but Spanish Sebastian — long ponytail, unbuttoned shirt, popped collar, and all — wins the sleazy boss contest just by walking through Sasha’s front door!

The bosses also say different things to Sam when they learn he is American. German Stefan mocks his accent. French Stefan brings up an unpopular US president. Sebastian also asks after “Mr. President,” but does not name him. I guess he didn’t need anything extra to make him unpleasant! I lived abroad during this president’s two terms and the Americanisms in my own speech made people ask whether I was American. Seeing how the Americans around me were being treated, I was always quick to say no!

In an odd twist, the English boss, with the very English name Howard, isn’t English at all! It must have been a deliberate choice, which makes me wonder. If you asked a British person to think of a stereotypical sleazy boss, would he immediately imagine a foreigner? And if so, which country would Howard most likely be from?

“Ich bin der Keller!”

A prediction: Sam will make at least one ridiculous but understandable vocabulary mistake in every episode. And some will be much worse than the others. So far, the best are from Episode 2, when he ordered the wrong groceries. (Link) And the worst are from this episode, where the mistakes don’t even make sense. In Extra Deutsch, for instance, he forgets “Nudelauflauf” (pasta casserole) and says “Pudelauflauf” (not even a real word). It’s just hard to believe that an American would mix up “Nudel” and “Pudel” when both sound exactly like their English equivalents. And when noodles and poodles don’t even look alike.

On the other hand, the mistake from Extra español — mixing up a “chuleta” (breaded porkchop) and a “chaqueta” (jacket) — seems more plausible. But I think “croqueta” would have been a better choice for the food word. We also get a bonus food joke when Sam serves Sebastian a pair of poached eggs and Sebastian compares them to . . . something. I can’t really make out what he says, but given the shape of the eggs, it’s probably rude!

I’ll let the French speakers and learners judge Sam’s mistake from Extra en français: instead of “poulet rôti” (baked chicken), he offers Nico “poubelle rôti” (baked rubbish bin).

But hands down, the worst of the lot is from Extra English, where Hector says “hotcat” instead of “hotdog.” I have so much trouble believing that any English learner could forget a word like “hotdog.”

What did you think of Extr@ Episode 4?

  1. Have you ever needed to use another language at work?
  2. What would a stereotypical sleazy boss look like in your country?
  3. If you were Sam/Hector’s host, what job would you recommend to him?

Next Week: Episode 5, A Star is Born

Extra Deutsch

Extra en español

Extra en français

Extra English

6 thoughts on “Extr@ Episode 4: Sam Looks for a Job

  1. The girls no doubt were thinking more about how Sam would look in a waiter’s uniform than whether his language skills were up to the task! I thought the poulet/poubelle the funniest — and the one that best merited Sam’s hilarity this time over his own mistake — and I think it’s the most plausible of the ones you explicitly mentioned. I don’t know how plausible it is in and of itself, but it has the advantage that you can imagine someone remembering the first syllable and not quite remembering the second. (The extra joke in Spanish, ojo/ajo, was the best one, though; it’s a kind of pun Spanish-speakers might make.)

    The ‘hot coffee’ joke works better in Spanish than in French. I wonder a bit about how these episodes, and especially the jokes, get written. Do they write it for one, and then adapt to the other languages? Or are there a few jokes for each language that they decide they are going to fit in no matter what, and then write the script around those?

    I’ve said before that I tend to think Nico fits the goofiness of the story better, because Pablo often comes across as too normal, but I think this story finally gave Pablo enough room to shine.

    There are lots of people who don’t know English and still know the word ‘hotdog’. For that matter, ‘hotdog’ is a Spanish word for hotdog, although I think how common it is varies a lot according to dialect.

    1. Cristina @Linguavert

      I’ve wondered the same thing about the writing! Since all the versions were produced in Britain, I assumed the English show was created first, as an ESL tool. I recall a similar Spanish show for Spanish learners on TVE Internacional. And the English episodes are different from the French, German, and Spanish ones in a way you could not say about any of those three against the others. Finally, the English version is also the only one with a second “season”!

      But I’m not 100% sure. It’s just as plausible that Channel 4 wanted to produce a show that would help local viewers learn foreign languages, then only later saw the potential for an English show for a foreign audience.

      Now I wonder about the hot coffee joke in German. If there were too much pepper in a German dish, I’d complain that it was too “sharf” (sharp), not that it was too “heiß”! And it certainly doesn’t work in Tagalog, which has a special word just for food that is so spicy it burns: “maanghang”!

  2. Brendan

    We finally caught up on this episode last night.

    In addition to pausing every so often, we were also having to explain sexual harassment as a concept to the girls, who were confused as to whether Stefan was Sasha’s boyfriend, and if not why he kept acting like that.

    Overall this seemed like one of the funnier episodes so far qua sitcom.

    1. Cristina @Linguavert

      Oh, dear! I hope this story wasn’t too adult for them! I didn’t learn about sexual harassment until I was in uni.

  3. Liam

    I notice one major difference in this episode, regarding the scenes set in the bathroom, the French version has two scenes, one with the two girls, and another with the two boys, the Spanish version just has the scene with the two girls, while the German and English versions don’t have either! I notice the German version seems to reuse Sam’s phone calls with his mother from the French version of this episode, with small edits to change Nico into Nic, I’ve not seen this in any of the other episodes. I spotted that Vanessa Otero (Spanish Lola) seems to be on the cover of the magazine in the other language versions, with Leontine Hass (German Sascha) on the Spanish magazine cover!

    1. Cristina @Linguavert

      Hi, Liam! Welcome to the Extr@ Watchalong! Well spotted on the magazine covers!

      Do you think the additional bathroom scenes in the French and Spanish versions added anything to the story? I watched all four versions of this episode, but I barely remember those scenes at all!

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