Extant a Spielberg Bomb

CBS gave “Extant” the typical TV promo package:ads, constant on-screen reminders, with the added touch of “Academy Award winner Halle Berry comes to TV”. Add to that the fact that Steven Spielberg is behind it, and you’d think it’s a shoo-in for a blockbuster.

Problem is ol’ Steve is hoisting this on us for the wrong reason—revenge. He refuses, in fact, to forget, or even forgive, the critics who savaged what could have been, no, SHOULD have been a sci-fi masterpiece—“A.I”. Shortly after, Spielberg tried to redeem himself with an imaginative but too big for TV “Terra Nova”, where humans tried to salvage life on Earth by founding human colonies in the prehistoric past. Forget the obvious fact that the future population had no idea that the deed was done 65 million years before. The dinosaur sequences were “Jurassic Park” good, and exhausted the budget to the point of extinction.

Now Steve strikes again with “Extant”, rife with more subplots than a Shakespearean drama. Set in a near-future where Berry plays an astronaut who is sent on a solo 13-month mission(not a chance in Hell)and comes back pregnant. That popular divertive prop, the flashback, is used to try to connect the dots and make a picture. Sorry, most of us don’t have a pencil.

Here’s what I got out of all this: Halle was involved with a good-looking astronaut who was African American but is now gone. Her current husband is a Caucasian man of science who is secretly working on cyborgs and has created a “son” to take the place of the son Halle can’t have. During a “board” meeting he gets pissed off at a lady who wants to know what kind of plan exists to kill the cyborgs if they don’t “obey”.

My take is that this guy is planning several sinister things. He suffers from the typical “does my beautiful black wife really love me or does she prefer that black guy in her past?” syndrome. To find out (and to test the ultimate complexity of his cyborgs, he has made a duplicate of Berry’s old lover and sent it up to the space station she’s running alone to mate with her. Halle tampers with the on-board video records to erase the visitor’s activity yet seems to forget herself he was ever there.The lover cyborg is now loose on Earth and making things difficult.

Back on Earth, a doctor tells Halle she’s pregnant, but Berry denies it, all the while starting to remember bits and pieces of what happened. Overall, it’s too complicated and too contrived for my taste. I see a cancellatiom within 7 to 10 episodes, despite the fact that this week they were already shooting the season finale, maybe for a reason. You’d think TV execs have learned the lesson that you can’t build a show around a single star, no matter how big they were in the movies.


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