You would have to be living under a rock if you haven’t seen or heard some kind of promotion or advertisement for CBS’ new summer show, Extant. As usual CBS is promoting it so much and so ubiquitously by the time it actually airs (tonight 9pm on CBS) you are suffering from EXTANT fatigue. You also, of course know by now that the show stars stunning Oscar winner Halle Berry as Molly Woods. Molly returns to earth after a 13 month solo mission in space and struggles to reconnect with her husband (ER star Goran Visnjic) and robot son.
Shortly after the pilot episode begins Molly learns that she is inexplicably pregnant. Not only was she alone the entire time while in space, she wasn’t able to conceive for years before she left to go into space. As Molly frets her fate and the fate of the alleged fetus she racks her brain for any memory of the thirteen previous months. We learn that indeed something strange did occur in space. She did have a visitor but was the visitor a result of space solitude hallucination? Why did she erase the surveillance video that my reveal a clue to what happened to her?
Extant poses a lot of questions in its pilot episode, and often it feels it is posing questions just to insure that you will watch the following week. The tone is often too mysterious and expectant and it occasionally undermines the sci-fi genre, but moreover it keeps you guessing and likely will have you tuned in so intently that you will not pick up your cell phone more than three times during the show.
CBS has stepped up its production values and Ms. Berry, who despite being a previous Oscar winner (which is a bit of an oxymoron) is quite good and totally believable as a scientist and mother. Visnjic, who is no slacker in the looks department is good as the distant, baffled husband, and he is also a brilliant scientist. It is strange how CBS hasn’t mentioned him at all in the promotion, but he definitely has TV cache, especially with women viewers.
Extant didn’t exactly mesmerize me, but there is so many reasons to watch it and keep watching it; including its spectacular production design, evocative cinematography and brilliant premise. It has great attention to detail and Halle Berry in HD is a beautiful thing.
Sunday, August 30, 2015, Watertown, NY