Extant Review: CBS new science fiction series shows that the network may actually be capable of genre television.
I’m a little behind on reviewing Extant, but mostly because I don’t have cable and CBS doesn’t really do much in the way of offering series online, or even offering marketing online. Fortunately, Amazon Prime has picked this series up, so I have a way of watching it (and kudos to Prime for making me aware of it). The network hasn’t proven it’s capable of good genre programming yet, but Extant may change things for CBS, if they stick with it.
Extant is about an astronaut, Molly Watts (Halle Berry). Molly has just returned from a 15-month solo mission in space. There’s just one problem: Molly finds out that she’s pregnant, which is basically impossible. However, there was a period of time during Molly’s stint in space (which we see in flashbacks) that leads us to believe that there’s something weird going with the space station, or as suggested, with the space agency Molly works for itself. Add that to Molly’s family, which includes her husband John (Gorin Visnjic) and her son, who turns out to be a robot, and you’ve got the makings of something that’s actually quite interesting.
The first episode of Extant has Stephen Spielberg’s prints all over it, which makes sense as he is the executive producer for the series. It lays the story down simply, but then adds in these little details that start making the seemingly rational seem irrational. Lots of mysteries are unveiled and lots of questions start forming as you watch this pilot episode: how did Molly get pregnant? Exactly what does the space agency know (and they know SOMETHING) and what does Hiroyuki Sanada’s character have to do with this (and you know, from previous characters Sanada has played, that he’s probably the bad guy or the guy orchestrating it all, right?).
I really shouldn’t even bother to mention the actors, because they’ve all proven themselves not only competent, but also compelling. So we’ll leave it at that. As I mentioned, Sanada makes an appearance in the first episode, and he’s easily one of my favorite “may or may not be a baddie” characters in the series (think Helix), so I can’t wait to see what gets revealed about his character in future episodes.
So should you go out of your way to watch Extant? I’m going to vote a resounding, “yes!” The series is airing on Amazon Prime, but if you don’t have that, I would actually urge you to purchase the episodes there or on iTunes.