TV Review: ‘Extant’

Extant TV Review

Extant” feels a bit like a Steven Spielberg greatest (and not-so-greatest) hits album, from “A.I.” to, in this case, a close encounter of the reproductive kind. That’s not an indictment so much as a road map to this CBS summer drama, which brings the star power of Halle Berry to the screen as an astronaut who returns to Earth after an extended mission only to discover — after an “anomaly” — that she’s pregnant, however impossible that seems. Throw in assorted subplots, and it’s certainly an intriguing launch; but then again, so was “Under the Dome” before that narratively ran into a brick wall.

Berry’s Molly is back home when the story begins, reunited with her husband, John (Goran Visnjic), and artificially intelligent son (Pierce Gagnon), which John has not only built but is seeking funding to market. (His expression of contempt for religion when pressed about the boy is one of the more bracing signals that this is a futuristic science-fiction piece.)

When Molly’s doctor (Camryn Manheim) delivers the news about her condition, that invites all manner of questions about what happened up there — dealt with, only partially, via sporadic flashbacks. Yet that’s only one of the mysteries built into the show, including the mogul (Hiroyuki Sanada) who might invest in John’s enterprise, a Nixon-like gap in the taped record of the mission, and what really caused the death of the astronaut who preceded Molly into space.

Aside from the coup of landing Berry — a woman, apparently, irresistible to sentient life throughout the galaxy — the show’s strong cast hints at more promise than the premiere ultimately exhibits, racing as it does to establish a foundation for what’s to come in the pilot written by first-time series creator Mickey Fisher and directed by Allen Coulter.

Being more pragmatic about it, if to paraphrase “Alien’s” famous ad line that in space no one can hear you scream, “Extant” looks well suited to making some noise, despite a pilot that’s heavy on tantalizing threads and not much else. Of course, the disclaimer would be that the same Amblin-CBS collaboration birthed “Under the Dome,” which proved a summer hit in 2013 but left a bad taste behind for many by playing too many “No, honest, you’ll get an idea what’s going on next week” games.

“Extant” is certainly awash in Spielbergian themes, starting with the prospect of alien visitation, whether friend or foe. And not afraid to risk overselling matters, the PR materials promise Molly’s experiences will “ultimately change the course of human history.”

Perhaps they will; still, if recent history is any guide, the gestation period for gaining true clarity regarding precisely how will probably be uncomfortably drawn out.


TV Review: 'Extant'

(Series; CBS, Wed. July 9, 9 p.m.)


Filmed in Los Angeles by 22 Plates in association with Amblin Television and CBS Television Studios.


Executive producers, Steven Spielberg, Greg Walker, Mickey Fisher, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Brooklyn Weaver; co-executive producer, Halle Berry; co-producer, Adam Rodin; director, Allen Coulter; writer, Fisher; camera, M. David Mullen; production designer, Cabot McMullen; editor, Sidney Wolinsky; music, Marcelo Zarvos; visual effects supervisor, Stephan Fleet; casting, Ronna Kress. 60 MIN.


Halle Berry, Goran Visnjic, Pierce Gagnon, Hiroyuki Sanada, Michael O’Neill, Camryn Manheim, Grace Gummer

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  1. Ida Bradley says:

    Thank you. I will be watching.

  2. Veronica says:

    Really enjoy this drama, which look like it might have a little more action in next week and it was a very interesting concept. I could never get into “Lost” yet I think that this will be much more interesting for me.

  3. Harold says:

    “Lost” was one of the worst shows ever written. There is a very narrow audience that will watch “character development” without any plot or connectivity. And, while I watch “Falling Skies”, it is NOT the best Sci-Fi ever written. A good story-line has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, not with all three of them whirled together with no development in each. Hence, the need for classic English majors in the “Writers’ Guild”.

  4. The feel I got after watching is this show may become the next LOST and that’s good.

  5. HallieHottie says:

    Nice surprise from CBS to fill the dog nights of summer with a sci-fi show featuring: Hallie Berry as hottie Molly the astronaut, with a stowaway starchild growing inside her; an angst driven A.I. as her darkchild waiting back at home; an atheist husband playing god by creating soulless beings in his garage; a nefarious Japanese corporate tech magnate seeking the fountain of youth [via deep immersion skin lotions]; and the restless souls of two astronauts from two previous failed space missions hounding Hallie with cryptic warnings… So much to look forward to for the next 3 months… OH YEAH ! ! !

  6. Al says:

    This feels like a 2-hour TV movie stretched out to 13 weeks. I’m not sure they’ll be able to maintain interest that long. Citing “A.I.” has me concerned because that was a film that started out as one of the best SF films in years, but ended as one of the worst.

  7. dreamlife613 says:

    Under the Dome was awful; I will check out a few eps of Extant just because the robot kid and alien premise sound interesting.

  8. sr says:

    Another miss. I give this two aired episodes (people will watch = curiosity factor) and then stop because it looks and sounds boring. Who the hell cares that she went into space a virgin and came back pregnant. If this didn’t have Spielberg’s name all over it, it would have never been done. I have no interest to even watch 15 seconds of this dreadful, over-used premise.

    • Deks says:

      You shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss, especially without having seen any of it. While certain themes may be regurgitated, I found the pilot to be artistic and intriguing.

  9. Amblin keeps on clunkin’

  10. Rui says:

    He keeps trying doesn’t he? Spielberg’s TV ventures don’t pan out – ever as I recall, but he keeps trying. While the premise is great, and the star even more so, I don’t want to get caught up only to not have it come back for season two and never find out what happens (Terra Nova).

    • HallieHottie says:

      Wrong Rui…

      Falling Skies on TNT tv is o`n it’s 4th season already. I would have thought you knew that, since you like to watch sci-fi shows like Extant.

      Sounds like you’re just crying over Spieldbeer ! ? !

  11. CBS is Creatively Challenged and Plagued With Utopian Value Systems says:

    CBS continues out of touch with reality. Extant will Exit quickly and join the realm of network failures, like Person of Interest.

    • HallieHottie says:

      Wrong, Wrong, Wrong,,,

      Hallie Barry is an Oscar winner who rarely does tv – unless it’s a winner like her. And, she is still very much a Person of Interest !

      Hottie Hallie will make Extant the #1 show of summer 2014. Just watch and you’ll see ! ! !

  12. E Cheung says:

    Anyone who thinks “Under The Dome” had an “intriguing launch” (presumably referring to the quality of the show) should not be writing entertainment reviews for show biz’s premier news outlet.

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