If you’re reading this blog post on the internet, you should have quick and easy access to your choice of free dictionaries that can tell you that the word “extant” does not at all mean the same thing as the word “extinct,” even though they look and sound kind of similar. Do the marketing people at CBS or the show’s writers know this?
All of the promotion for the new Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi series ‘Extant’ has focused on that word turning into “extinct” as if they mean the same thing. I suppose I could give the writers enough benefit of the doubt that the actual, correct meaning of “extant” (in existence or still existing – in other words, exactly the opposite of extinct) may become relevant at some later point, but it’s not at all meaningful in the pilot episode, and judging by how astoundingly dumb this thing is, I really see no need to give its creators that much credit.
The premise: It’s the near future, when people have televisions in their bathroom mirrors, infertile couples raise super-creepy robot children, and scientists have finally found important uses for the Nintendo Power Glove. Also, the space program is fully privatized and run by an evil corporation. (Is there any other kind of corporation in the eyes of Hollywood?)
Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) returns from a 13-month solo mission aboard the Seraphim space station, where she performed lots of important work flicking switches and pouring fluids from one test tube into another test tube. Upon returning home, her doctor and BFF Camryn Manheim informs her that she’s pregnant, and the timing lines up that she must have gotten pregnant when she was completely alone in space. This does not surprise or alarm Molly in the slightest, and she asks her friend to keep it secret until she has time to sort things out.
Uhh, WTF? An astronaut returns from space impregnated with what is almost certainly an alien life form, and her doctor’s all like, “Sure, honey. Take all the time you need. We’ll keep this between us.” Seriously, who wrote this shit?
Meanwhile, Molly’s clueless hubby (Goran Visnjic) hasn’t even noticed that anything is up with her because he’s too obsessed with making more creepy robot children and spreading them around the world, even though the couple’s own psychotically evil robo-son is clearly the Robot Antichrist.
In flashbacks, we learn that the space station suffered a power blackout due to some solar flare activity. During that time, Molly’s dead ex-boyfriend mysteriously shows up out of nowhere, and he’s all like, “Hey, girl.” And she’s like, “Hey.” Then he touches her face and she swoons and passes out, and that must be when he PUT AN ALIEN SPACE BABY INSIDE HER.
Molly wakes up three hours later and checks the station’s security cameras, which show her looking at and talking to nothing at all. Because she doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s gone fucking nuts, she deletes all the camera footage and tells her bosses back at Space, Inc. that, “Whoopsies, I must have hit the delete button by accident. I’m such a silly woman. Tee-hee. Don’t worry, nothing interesting happened. I totally did NOT get impregnated with an alien space baby by the ghost of my dead boyfriend or anything crazy like that. Honest.”
I could go into more detail cataloguing the idiocies in the show, but the long and short of it is that the pilot episode is very, very dumb and (even worse) is GODDAMN BORING AS HELL. I mean, really, how is it even possible to make an alien invasion story seem so incredibly dull and mundane as this?
Well, I guess the first step is to cast Halle Berry in it. Despite the Emmy and Oscar trophies on her mantle, I think that most of us can acknowledge that Berry is not a particularly good actress. Her inability to express anything resembling a believable emotion is a crippling deficit to the story here.
The show is terrible on every level. Of course, that’s never stopped other series (ahem, ‘Under the Dome’) from being successful on CBS. The difference is that ‘Extant’ isn’t even watchably terrible. It’s just tedious and needs to be canceled immediately.