ex·tant [ˈekstənt,ekˈstant/ ]
1. (especially of a document) still in existence; surviving.
There, now you’ll be the talk of the office at the water cooler tomorrow.
Much of this summer’s TV buzz has circulated around Extant, the Halle Berry sci-fi vehicle premiering July 9 on CBS. With the heft of Steven Spielberg on board as producer and the summer’s eeriest premise, the thriller promised to be a gleaming light of television narrative and originality during what can be typically the trashiest weeks of TV. So, now that we’ve blasted off into space with Berry—how did it do?
It appears that CBS may have scored on its gamble with Extant, a mostly compelling and categorically original story that’s part conspiracy thriller, part family drama, and part cautionary technology tale (most likely). It’s that last bit—addressing our growing curiosity with human-robot relationships and our increasingly divergent opinions about the nature of the future—that’ll likely prove to be one of the more interesting elements of Extant, which takes place in a near future with plenty of fun gadgets reminiscent of technologically prescient films like Her or Minority Report.
Extant’s premise sounds easy enough—Molly, an astronaut who spent 13 months on a solo mission in space, struggles to reconnect with her husband (Goran Visnjic) and son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). Oh, and Ethan happens to be a robot. And Molly happens to be pregnant, despite spending a year alone. And there may or may not be aliens, fake suicides, hallucinations, government and corporate conspiracies, and a systematic product roll-out of robotic children who yearn for soft, warm, human
Sure, Extant poses some lofty philosophical questions about human souls and science, but that’s not why you’re here this summer. It’s Berry, and she is in fine form as Molly, an unreliable heroine who perhaps doesn’t even comprehend the information she’s intent on withholding. Berry nails the role of detached wife and mother, but the real gem of the performance is when Berry balances Molly’s frustration and “I’m pregnant!?” disbelief with an undertone of deceitful self-awareness that makes her a fully-formed character of clashing motives.
Perhaps it’s simply the case of being a loaded pilot, but Extant managed to pack a whopping number of story lines into its hour premiere. Let’s dive in: READ FULL STORY