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CBS (ended 2015)

Extant S01E04: "Shelter"


Extant isn't bad television, it's boring television—which is worse, in my opinion. When a TV series is bad, you can mock it, hate-watch it, or ignore it altogether without feeling any sort of real emotion. But when it's boring or wasting its potential, it's downright frustrating to watch—and after four mediocre episodes, Extant is both boring and wasting its potential. While there's still plenty to mock about the alien ghost baby growing and playing Tetris inside Halle Berry's uterus, it's just not as fun when you know that Extant has/had the potential to be better.

The series wants so badly to be a sci-fi thriller, but it forgets on a regular basis that the most successful thrillers deal in quick reveals. Giving viewers time to deconstruct all the ways in which your story is failing or doesn't make sense is the best way to lose your audience, which seems to be the only thing Extant is excelling at right now. The series is currently plodding along at the pace of a one-legged elderly gentleman moseying on a Sunday afternoon stroll while eating rum raisin ice cream AND doing some birdwatching. Extant probably would've made a great fun-but-dumb summer movie, but as a TV show, it's lacking. We're a third of the way through the season we still don't know much more than we knew after the pilot: Molly is pregnant with an alien baby, her son is a creepy Robokid who hates birds but eats real food, and Sparks and the ISEA cannot be trusted. We still don't have any details on what's growing inside Molly or how it ended up there, we still don't know why Mr. Yasumoto wants it, we still have no idea why Robokid is anti-avian, and we still don't understand how that awesome trash compactor works. I need answers, people! 


One of Extant's biggest problems is that it doesn't have any sympathetic characters. I still don't care about Molly or what happens to her, which is a giant red flag. I wish CBS had invited me to sit in on focus groups for this series, because Molly's could've been fun and creepy—if she wasn't such an idiot. Aren't astronauts supposed to be, like, smart? I can count several instances in "Shelter" in which Molly's common sense (if it ever existed) flew right out the window, hopped a boat to Cape Canaveral, and blasted straight up into space. But nothing was more egregious than when she tried to pet her dad's dog, who was very clearly not feeling friendly toward her—probably on account of the alien ghost baby in her midsection—and ended up getting bit (and suffering cuts that looked nothing like a dog bite). Molly also still thinks there's a possibility the baby is actually hers and John's, even though she should be able to discern that, given her recent experiences, it's pretty out of the question at this point. 

Taking home the second place trophy for Extant's Least Interesting Character is the mysterious and shady Mr. Yasumoto. He seems to be at the center of everything—he's connected to Sparks, to Molly, and to John—and the show's writers seem to think he's far more compelling than he actually is. But we have no reason to care about him because we know nothing about him. Why should we bother with Yasumoto or his agenda? This week, he and Sparks arranged to kidnap Molly after she tried to hide out on a remote island (albeit not so remote that there aren't a ton of people living on it) after escaping from Sparks. 

Side note: Hey Molly, I don't want to tell you what to do, but in the future, maybe pick a hiding place other than the island where you grew up and where your father still lives because that's probably going to be the first place people will look.


Sparks and his goons captured Molly by using Ethan as bait, and then Mr. Yasumoto put her on a freighter out at sea, as if Extant was Alias Season 5. And this might be a controversial opinion, but right now I'd rather be watching Alias Season 5. At least when I watch that final season, with all its pregnancy woes and convoluted secrets and Vaughn-isn't-Vaughn stuff, I have fond memories of Alias's first few seasons to lessen the blow of how terrible Season 5 was. When I watch Extant, I mostly just sit around thinking about what else I could be doing instead.  

Ethan is still the best thing Extant has going for it, and I'll give both Pierce Gagnon and the writers props for making me care about that creepy little bugger so much that when those jerks fried his insides, I was actually upset by it. He's just a kid! His evolution as a character has been engaging in a way that Molly's alien ghost baby hasn't. Maybe it's because his story feels relevant to our world, maybe it's because the study of his humanity is something we can all relate to as we explore our own. If the series airlocked Molly and that damn baby and focused solely on Ethan's journey from android child bird killer to, I don't know, the leader of the robot uprising or something, I'd watch the F out of Extant. As it stands, I can't recommend sticking with the series going forward. 

thekaitling:list:does-extant-pass-your-4-episode-test/

 

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/9/2015

Season 2 : Episode 13

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I watched two episodes and most of that time, I was on my phone. I had high hopes for this show, but it was a time vampire, In afraid.
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I could not agree with you more. So much so that when I post my Summer 4 Episode Test list on Friday I might just link to this post for the Extant write-up.
Boring characters are a cardinal sin in my book and the wasted premise is almost as big of a crime. Extant definitely did not pass the test.
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Best part of Extant (Shelter) was reading this review by Kaitlin Thomas, even if I disagree with some of it. Thoroughly enjoyed Kaitlin's sarcastic deconstruction of all the obvious plot holes of a CBS show, on a CBS website, as a TV.com/CBS staff member. I know Kaitlin has nothing to do with the show, but that still warms the cockles of my heart! :)

Extant is garbage compared to Alias, how dare you, I loved season 5, J.J. Abrams would do this way better!

Now that that's off my chest, Ethan is just as boring and poorly written as the rest of the characters, with perhaps the most wasted potential, as an Android is a bottomless pit of story, and we really haven't seen much interesting story telling through him that hasn't already been done better elsewhere.

Totally agree with your sentiments on every other level. They should advance the plot and focus on explaining what is Extant (still in existence), to engage the audience with the title of the show and retain what's left of our interest in the characters. At this point, unless they flip everything on it's head with some crazy Battlestar-esque twist, I think Extant will just go extinct.

Excellent review!


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It has been failing my weird test, I have all four sitting on my DVR and have absolutely no desire to watch it (while it is only the second episode, oh no wait, there are two episodes of the Lottery which aren't beckoning to me either). Now, Halt & Catch Fire tricked me, I was so watching it because it began in that weird interim between the end of the fall season and before the summer season that I didn't mind going, okay they are building a personal computer (hey, I can just reach for mine...) that is kind of like a laptop but more like that weird word processing thing my mother bought me before college (circa 1995) which could print too (very loudly and I usually waiting until my roommates were out) but what is really going on with these characters, then I let three gather up (where they took off for Codex) and they were three pretty good episodes. I understand the season/series finale might be a let down (it gets watched later in the week) but it is the thing that makes me think next Saturday if the weather is crappy, I might watch Extant but its not looking good.
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I enjoy it when I watch it, but I keep forgetting about it so that I can set the DVR to record it. That's not a good sign. I have it programmed to record this week, so hopefully I'll get back into the habit of watching it.

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Yawn
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Extant has not quite failed, but it has not passed either. I am still ambivalent. It needs to speed up the pace just a bit. I like slow pacing, but this is ridiculous. Kaitlin is correct, 1/3 of the way in and we still do not know any more than when it began.

Who are the aliens? Why does Yasumoto need them so badly? What was the meteor? What are the genetics behind aliens breeding with humans? The aliens have to be close enough to human in order to cross breed.
At least throw us a bone here.

I am going to stick with it, but Extant is not a must see. I may wait until I can batch watch them when nothing else is on. Maybe then the writers will answer some questions.
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The people who do not appreciate EXTANT are probable the same who go home use hamburger helper to prepare their dinner. They desire easy, shallow or thoughtless TV viewing.
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Yes. That's it! There's me, using freshly prepared "gyoza" meat to make my latest meat pie, and I forgot I was meant to use "Hamburger Helper"! Silly me!

Should I throw away my copies of " District 9", "Moon" and "Blade Runner" while I'm at it?
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How classy and above us all you are! It says a lot about a person's character when they decide that because someone doesn't agree with their "always right" opinion, it's time to bring out the insults.
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Good comparison. I can't help myself for watching '24' but if you notice, they start each episode with a re-cap of the previous episode's major story points and they also show every major character's picture along with their name and job title. IOW, it's designed for stupid people so they can watch a show with an allegedly 'complex' or 'intricate' plot but still understand it. Kind of like how the exciting rides at an amusement park make you feel like you are going to die when, in fact, you are safer on the roller coaster than you were while driving to the amusement park in your car. This show is like the '24' of science fiction.
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Actually, it's for people who are too busy to remember between episodes each week, or new viewers who might be interested enough with a recap, but who don't want to watch all the previous episodes.

Funny that, eh?
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Extant has failed the 4-episode for me. However, I'm going to stick with it for now. I'm hoping for some type of reveal to explain SOMETHING before the series (not season, let's be honest) finale.
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I love this series...i actually like the two story lines combined..
The suspense was killing me with this episode...
Poor Ethan, one moment he is just sitting there processing his angry grandpa shouting and the next he is kidnapped and disemabled....
Now they have Molly....wonder what is going to happen next...!!!
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I think it should've been either a Robokid story or an Alien Pregnancy not both. Kaitlin summed it up perfectly though it's so boring thus far which is a real shame because with a little forward planning Extant could've been good.

I'd have gone with the Robokid plot, we're overdue one really, its interaction with the outside world could've been quite thought provoking.

As to whether I'll keep watching?, probably not.
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I had at least modest hopes for this, but I'm kinda hate watching it now. Molly seems like an idiot, incapable of doing anything remotely astronaut-worthy, and blunders around doing really obvious things, instead of thinking her way through situations. Case 1: She knows she's been "seeing things" recently, but when hubby tells her one of the party guests wasn't really there, does she trust him? No, she charges around yelling the guy's name until everyone thinks she's a mad woman. Way to keep a lid on things. Case 2: After one previous kidnap attempt, her robot son mysteriously disappears, and she finds him spread out in a clearing in the woods like bait. Does she stop to wonder why before charging to the rescue? Where's Admiral Ackbar when you need him?

Her husband isn't much better, as a scientist who's lost all objectivity about his creation. Sure, the cops were a bunch of insensitive douches when they found out they were looking for a robot instead of a real kid, but how could he have possibly thought punching one of them would change that? If he really wanted to find him so badly, wouldn't staying out of jail have been a good first step? I seriously expect him to murder someone to save his "son" before this is over.

So far, the kid reminds me of a pint sized version of River, from Firefly, and maybe that's why he's more interesting. As for the "big" mysteries, none of the clues they've dropped so far seems very compelling, or worth spending any time unraveling. They'll tell us what they mean when they feel like it, and our reaction will likely be just as neutral then.
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interested enough to want to watch it but not interested enough to look forward to it, pretty much throughout the entire episode my mind wandered on and off thinking about different things to do, this show just fails to grasp the slightest amount of attention which is terrible, and i doubt the future episodes will be any better, but if this fails at least i still have the strain
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Hetake (yasumoto)wants the baby cause he is dying and he thinks that somehow this alien babu gonna make him live longer..so we know something...and i'm going 2 watch it till the end.i like it: )
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I don't get it. they would've had some great potential just focusing on little "astroboy" ethan and how society deals with mainstreaming toasters with real children. you don't need a batman&robin mr. freeze villain, people in general are good enough to be the antagonist. no stupid ex-boyfriend "it's okay" bullshit. seriously, if he had said that again when he showed up while taking blood samples, I would've thrown MY toaster at the tv!
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they need to speed up the pace. It's getting kind of boring. But I'm still intrigued. Idk why but this show somehow feels like the strain. Both shows i think have started from the very beginning and that things will turn to serious shit before the first season is over, then itll probably become this survival show.
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Does it make sense to say it fails the 4-episode test but I'll still keep watching? I don't fault the actors, but everything else about the show seems confused and poorly connected.

I honestly think the main reason I'm sticking with it is to see what Mr. Hatake Yasumoto Hatake is up to, and to get the inside scoop on what he'll be bringing back to Helix in season 2. (Seriously, I'm unable to convince myself they're not the same character.)
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Extant needs to bring the Ethan vs. Alien pregnancy story lines together soon. Like: 'aliens are trying to live here, but doing so kills humans, so the Robots take over and start fighting the aliens' or something. (Or 'robots find out about the alien goo and want to use it to wipe out the human race'?)
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I'd watch that.
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Who ever told Mrs Berry she's a good actress? She has only two facial expressions, a) watery eyes or b) none at all
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So much wasted talent on this show. Big bad government/corporation makes life miserable for totally innocent astronaut and her robotics expert husband, toss in a robot kid, and you have, boring? Yep.

Exactly what about this show is supposed to be engaging?

This show is mindless, in the worst way. I don't care about any of the characters on the show, nor do I care about the producers, writers, directors, etc. I have a little sympathy for the actors who have to know it's crap.

When basic cable is giving us shows like The Bridge, Halt and Catch Fire, etc. shows like Extant are simply insulting. Good luck CBS. You need it.
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Great show so far!!
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This show is so boring...If it does not pick up I see it axed...
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Watched the first 3 episodes, but I think I'm out. Maybe after the first season finishes, I might check it out again if reviews say it actually picks up the pace and gives some legit answers towards the end of the season.
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Was like watching Alias the scene in the ship.They couldn't imagine a better place to transfer her like a plane or an underground facility for example but not a ship so everyone remembers Alias last season :( . (Another one series copying another,pathetic).In Alias was a big cliffhanger episode,in Extant was the just the end of the episode.But I'm going to stick because I'm curious where the series is going and propably will get a HINT for the answer in the last episode of the season :) .
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And Alias was much better.
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When the laser started to cut Molly's belly I instantly thought about that one memorable scene from Prometheus. Fingers crossed Molly's baby is a Facehugger :)
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Hahaha me too! I don't know why I continue to watch this boring ass show, but something about it intrigues me, plus I have no other Wednesday shows right now.. I'm just keeping my expectations really, really low. It's weird seeing Hatake in this show, especially when Helix is just on a break between seasons..I dunno about that.. loved him in Helix for the most part, and this just feels like Hatake's evil fucking doppelganger or something..
Out of curiosity, have you seen that new indie sci fi movie "The Signal?"
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I'm on the same boat - Extant is my only Wednesday show...

I agree about Hatake's doppelganger stuff - shame they didn't cast some other actor in this role.

I didn't see "The Signal" - is it any good?
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"The Signal" was quite good I thought, I can understand why some people think it's a lil bit slow to start but I was engaged throughout. The acting is solid, the main character actually asks questions that make sense (unlike in Extant) but above all it is visually outstanding.. beautiful movie. Another movie that really had me thinking lately is "Banshee Chapter" which was a Netflix find.. that movie scared the shit out of me, which is a hard thing to do at this point. I highly recommend both, PM me if u feel like discussing after. Enjoy :)
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I agree the writing is not very good. However I am still giving it a chance and watching till the end.
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@Kaitlin If you are frustrated with this after only four episodes than you cannot watch the blacklist. It does not answer a simple father-daughter question even after 22 episodes.
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The Blacklist has even worse acting and less chemistry. The ONLY thing it does have is Spader. So, blacklist is definitely on my black list.
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Couldn't agree more about Blacklist, but Spader is AMAZING, so I never missed an episode! I am hoping against hope they'll recast Elizabeth. I had hoped her acting would improve over the season but JUST NO.
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Ya, but the thing about the Blacklist is that it's largely a procedural. The whole "is Red her daddy?" isn't the entire storyline of the show. For this show, it is.
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Evidently, in the future, they don't have good thrillers. We all know how to spot an evil corporation and hide from it and and get off the grid and become badass urban guerillas and improvise awesome weapons and find genius allies because the movies taught us. These people? Not a clue.
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Staff
This show didnt even pass the teaser/trailer test.
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Frustrating, it's as if they put together the blandest bits of a few blockbusters and tried to make a series of of them. And just when I thought they'd used every science fiction / conspiracy trope in the book, she gets the Force ability to attract tools into her hand too - did aliens shoot her up with Midichlorians?
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Agreed! As I was watching this episode, I was thinking the same thing about, um, maybe going to your dad's place isn't exactly the smartest way to "hide" from the authorities? I mean, he's in the phone book. *I* could have found her, and I'm not a mega-powerful, rich, supercorp with an army of goons. The characters often behave very, very stupidly. Like when the doctor friend decides, hey, I have this blood sample that absolutely MUST be kept secret, so I'll take it to the ONE PLACE where it will most likely be discovered. *slow clap*
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I agree this show has been a bit boring, but "Shelter" was the worst episode so far. It could be a really fun and exciting show, but it kind of drags on without ever getting anywhere. Also, it's not a good thing when I can see what's about to happen long before it happens.

Anyway, I'm not going to quit watching the show. I don't think it's terrible or anything, it could just be so much better. They obviously had the money to make it look great, I wish they'd spent it on writing instead.
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What happened with steven spielberg.... His best TV shows are still Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs wish he was making more of that!!
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I missed it and forgot to record it. Maybe that was my subconscious protecting me. Anyone know if this episode will air again before next week?
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Try cbs.com. FYI, CBS moved it an hour later due to low ratings but then last night's episode had even lower ratings. Ouch! :(
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Thanks Antdude. I missed it because I was expecting it at a different time. I don't think Halle Berry's acting, mediocre at best, is enough to save it. It has been seriously slow, and I like a slow character development to build a story. (See The Strain, which is working for me.)
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I'm still watching, but just because of the premise. There aren't many hard science fiction shows around, and, after the demise of Almost Human (good riddance!), it's the only one with robots, so I still want to see if something good is going to come out of it. But my patience is running low.
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There hasn't been a good show with robots since Futurama was cancelled. (Again.)
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I loved Futurama, but that was a comedy and a cartoon, so not exactly what I meant. For a moment I thought Almost Human could be it, but its insistence in procedural stories killed it for me. Let's see if there's still hopes for Extant.
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well, I still like it. It's only one season after all...
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Nicely stated, Kaitlin. I'm sure millions of us wanted this to work, but it doesn't and you have a good grasp on why. If this was Twitter, limited to 140 characters, I'd just restate it as
BORING!
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I'm still watching it, but it's just the result of my weakness for Halle, and has nothing to do with the quality of the show. I'm sure I'll quit watching at some point.

What I find both amusing and annoying is that Sanada's Yasumoto character is almost identical to his Hatake character in Helix.
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The only real difference is that Helix is at least enjoyable to watch.
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I have it programmed on my DVR and will watch it when the Summer Season run is complete. I don't care about the 4-episode test review.
I will plow through the episodes and if it is around for another season then I will make my decision of watch/don't watch.

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I hate the 3 or 4 episode test. I understand that a show SHOULD try to start strong but there have been a number of shows that I love that started slow.
Thankfully I had the eps on my DVR and continued past the 3 or 4 episodes.
Surprise... the show grew and became a must see.
The danger is that the network might pull the show prematurely or that the EARLY negative reviews cause viewers to never check it out.
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I couldn't make it passed episode 3. It is just poorly written, the character of Molly is unintelligent and if you can't believe that your main character is what they claim her to be then the whole rest of the story goes to hell. Not that the rest of the story is any good. It was 3 episodes when I gave up on it and the story didn't really progress from episode 1 to basically the last 15 minutes of episode 3.

It is just bad, I can't believe that Halle Berry is an oscar winner. I have to wonder what the show would be like if they had a better actor. Granted the writing would still be horrible but I think a different actress might work. I mean she struggles with the pronunciation of some of the bigger words. She is right down there with the robot kid in regards to acting ability. Except he is supposed to act like a robot.

Because of all of these things I can't watch anymore.
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Just another wee point. How good of a robotics engineer is dad anyway? He makes an android that eats food, which is good. People like that. It also tastes food and has likes/dislikes, which are part of the humanizing process too. I get that. But it obviously needs rechargable power packs. Believable but why is the access port located where it can't reach it itself? It can eat food for show and learning but it needs a person to replace the power pack it actually needs to survive?
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If you spent any time around industrial robots, you'd see that they have a prominent, big red button on them to turn them off. You want to be sure you can turn them off.
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Good way to make sure it can't turn on you if it can't recharge itself
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... unless there are two of them.
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You're having a hard time getting investors, and school parents, on-board with the idea of near human robots even existing and yet you genuinely believe the police are going to treat this like a missing child case? And you react to this by punching the sherif. We're only 4 episodes in and I'd like to see one of the main 'good guy' characters go to prison for 2 years fo assaulting a police officer, and generally being stupid.
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I don't think it's BAD... just nothing special.

If this was during the primetime season then I might just DVR it for some eventual marathon. But considering how little there is on TV during the summer I'll watch it.


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I love your summary! Basically, If it's this or absolutely nothing, I'll take this. And yours is the most sincere praise in this thread.
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It's the writing.... When Ethan is de-activated, it was a sting like R2D2 tipping over. But the human characters elicit a big ho-hum. Why would a scientist like the husband hit a policeman? Stupid. Why wouldn't Molly know that she could be easily found at her father's home? Why run to Dad when she distrusts him for being an alcoholic? Why didn't Molly's doctor escape when she saw her office being emptied? What is the purpose of Molly waking up groggy and running thru a place, only to find herself back in the hands of the "doctors." Stupid. Nonsensical. Frustrating for viewers and no doubt, the cast, too. It's a mess.
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The cliche drunken father, and the estranged daughter. The stereotypical bigoted "southern" sheriff, and evil corporation. What was the point, of Ethan going to school? They just scuttled that whole story.

The writing is sub par. But if you don't over think it, it's enjoyable enough for a summer series.
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I can't argue with all the problems listed with the show here. I usually can't watch such things. But for some reason I'm entertained and look forward to it. Not really sure why. I mean, I love sci-fi, but there are plenty of sci-fi shows I can't watch because they stink. The most annoying thing for me is the husband's American accent. Even slipped into his eastern European accent at one point last night.
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When Hatake Yasumoto answered his mobile phone in the lift, I was like, "Hmmm, reception must be better in the future for phones to work in the lift!" Okay, that was totally random.

Does this show my pass 4-episode test? That is a big, resounding no. I don't get this "Wednesday can't come soon enough" vibe with Extant. I just watch this since there's no really other choice...
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I'm in a 4 story concrete building with the elevator at its center, and I get signal.

Granted our company put repeaters or something inside the building... since prior to that it was hard enough getting a signal in the middle of the building without being in an elevator. So perhaps they put them in the center, and thus close enough to the elevator for it to work.
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I couldn't finish the first ep.

annnnyway, I congratulate all you brave guys for concentration ( and lot of patience) and finding joy watching ...this show.

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If I don't tune in from week to week but watch an episode only when I literally have nothing better to do, does that count as a pass or fail?

It Extant good? No, not really. Is it bad? No, not really. Which I suppose is the worst thing a show can be. Hell, I regularly tune into Revolution (RIP), Under the Dome, The Following and The Walking Dead just so see what those dummies are going to do next.

Extant, despite Berry's obvious wishes, isn't a TV event...it's just sorta vanilla.
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I have a simple rule: if Halle Berry plays in the movie - don't watch. I honestly tried to watch Extant, but only proved this rule to be just.
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I think (and this is the main reason I'm watching it) that Extant-Extinct will turn out to be a show about the evils of robots taking over; i.e. either the alien is a machine intelligence, or the last gasp of a humanoid intelligence that was outwitted by its own inventions. The doctor "Hatake" is going to be surprised. That's my surmise of the show's premise-demise. (Heh, heh, see, I can do a visual transformation too.) I doubt there will be a season 2. Halle Berry acts like she needs Geritol.
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