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‘Extant’s’ Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Season 2 is ‘Moonlighting’ in a Future World

Fans of CBS’ “Extant” might be in for a surprise with the season two premiere, and we’re not just talking about star Halle Berry’s hairstyle. In fact, Jeffrey Dean Morgan — who joins the cast of the futuristic thriller this year as a cop whose methods are a bit old school — went so far as to tell members of the press that this year was a reboot.

Morgan spoke to Variety about the part that got him back on broadcast television, making believable science fiction dramas and the similarities between himself and his character (note: It’s not a coincidence that the character’s named JD).

You play a character who is in the future but, because of his career choice, is still rooted in the past.

He’s a throwback. He’s a guy who’s going kicking and screaming into the future, much like myself. I’m a bit of a luddite. And then he meets Molly [Halle Berry], who is an astronaut and is telling him this story of aliens and robots and all of these sorts of things that are way beyond JD’s level of thinking. It’s going to take awhile for him to believe a word she says.

You’ve called this season a reboot. What do you mean by that?

It’s a different show. I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t watch last year. They told me not to. When they called me to do this, I didn’t want to work, I needed a break. But they kept calling. They were like here’s the deal, it’s a new show and we want you to think of it like that. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and I read the script and I liked the character. They wanted to bring an edge to the show and a sense of humor to the show. And my character fit that bill.

The wanted a relationship aspect as well. They throw my and Halle’s characters into this fire and they just sort of sit back and see what happens. What you’re dealing with is these two people getting to know each other under these extreme circumstances, which has been really fun and interesting. I love her and I think JD has a certain affinity toward her also. We’ve got sparks flying all over the place and we’ll see where that goes.

There is a little bit of a buddy cop dynamic going on in the beginning.

A little bit of let’s go on the road and solve crimes? The buddy cop lasts for a minute. We do find ourselves teamed together, but we’re not doing an episode of some kind of procedural. That’s not going to be the deal.

For all you adults out there, it’s more of a “Moonlighting” type deal thrown into a future world. My character’s a little bit irreverent and doesn’t put up with a lot of s—. Molly’s a character who comes from this background of science and stuff and she’s been lost in her capacity of how to deal with real people as well. They’re going to butt heads quite a bit. He thinks she belongs in the loony bin.

What you worry about is sometimes shows about science fiction get too smart for themselves and there’s too many things out there and people change the channel. If you outsmart your audience, you’re going to lose them. JD’s going to be the guy who is going to help us figure out what the hell is going on.

Especially when you’re doing a summer series with 13 episodes, the key is to hit them hard and hit them fast.

Is summer TV different in your mind?

I haven’t done network television since “Grey’s Anatomy” and that was a long time ago. This is kind of my first foray into it. I’ve done cable stuff and films for the last 10 years. This is a little bit different. The format’s different and the rules are different.

It’s surprising. I’m still learning about it all. I’m on episode nine and I’m still “I can’t do what? why?” I knew cussing might be an issue, but some stuff … But you’ve got to learn as you go and the pedigree of the people involved was enough to pique my interest.

Extant” returns (or depending on who you’re asking, premieres) July 1 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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