Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Halle Berry's Alien Drama Extant?
As a famous poet once said, "Movie stars are movie stars, and TV stars are TV stars, and never the twain shall meet." But poetry is stupid and also wrong, because I count at least three Academy Award winners who've migrated to TV this season, officially blurring the line between good and evil. First came Matthew McConaughey confusing audiences with his True Detective mumbo-jumbo about time and flat circles. Then came Billy Bob Thornton, whose Fargo bangs beat McConaughey's True Detective ponytail for Ugliest Hair 2014. And now leading lady Halle Berry is taking a stab at the small screen in CBS's Extant. Is the alien drama worth watching or should we stick it on a rocket ship and shoot it into outer space? That's what we're here to explore in the latest edition of Hey You, Tell Me About This Thing!
Extant? What does that even mean?
Well the definition of "extant" is "still in existence; surviving" and the series concerns life and different forms of life as well as outer space, so I'd say aliens are a good bet, whether we see them or not. Look, I didn't name the show, please stop asking me such hard questions. Here are the basics: Extant is a 13-episode science-fiction thriller that follows Molly, an astronaut who comes home to her husband and android son after a 13-month solo mission in space and attempts to readapt to the life she left behind. But surprise! After being unable to conceive a child for years, she discovers that she's pregnant upon returning to Earth. As if that wasn't worrisome/disturbing enough, her robot child might be first in line to participate in a robot uprising, and Molly soon learns that what happened to her during her mission might not be the first time occurrence of interplanetary shenanigans.
Who stars in Extant? And who created the show?
As I mentioned above, Extant has a high-profile star in Halle Berry; she plays Molly Woods, the pregnant astronaut at the center of the series. ER's Goran Visnjic plays her husband, scientist John Woods, and Pierce Gagnon (One Tree Hill) plays their android son Ethan. Rounding out the cast are Camryn Manheim (Person of Interest) as Sam Barton, Grace Gummer (The Newsroom) as Julie Gelineau, Michael O’Neill (everything, but most recently Rectify) as Alan Sparks, and Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix) as Hideki Yasumoto. Extant was created by newcomer Mickey Fisher, whose pilot script for the show won a screenwriting contest (really); the project is produced by some guy named Steven Spielberg.
When does Extant blast off?
Extant premieres Wednesday, July 9 at 9pm on CBS.
Who might enjoy Extant?
Dawson Leery? Other Steven Spielberg diehards? Extant looks and feels very much like a Spielbergian production. Sci-fi fans will dig it as long as they go in knowing that the show is sci-fi at its broadest.
What's out of this world about Extant?
Forget about the alien baby until it starts bursting out of Halle's stomach or whatever, because Molly's pregnancy is basically just Extant's flashy hook (and it's not even all that exciting, given that CBS didn't try to make it a surprise and revealed it in trailers and press materials). The question of what happened to Molly in space is the real story, and the otherworldly bun in her oven is only one small piece of a much larger mystery at the heart of Extant. It's this mystery—which ties in with a twist at the end of the pilot—that makes Extant intriguing.
There's also a layer of conspiracy thriller when you add in the fact that the space program, which has apparently been outsourced to the private sector (???), is suspicious of Molly's return and knows very well that she's hiding something.
And what keeps Extant grounded?
Extant does not make a flashy entrance. In fact, it appears to be going for a slow burn, which is the opposite of what a series that's billed as an event series with a limited number of episodes should do. And most of the ideas presented in Extant aren't original or all that exciting. The series plays it safe by tackling common sci-fi themes, like the dangers of unrestrained artificial intelligence and unexplained alien phenomena. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that; hopefully, the show will eventually expand on those ideas. But at the outset, Extant is your typical broadcast network sci-fi series, which is to say that it does the bare minimum in terms of actual science-fiction because it wants to appeal to people who might not consider themselves to be sci-fi fans. It's banking on big names and flashy futuristic technology to draw people in, but the pilot doesn't make any daring leaps, and the series might not ever make them.
So, should I watch it?
If your summer viewing schedule is rather light, go ahead and pencil in Extant, but you probably shouldn't expect too much from it.
Let's take a look at a trailer!
Extant premieres Wednesday, July 9 at 9pm on CBS.
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