Extant, TV review: Slick sci-fi series has an intriguing plot, but the characters aren't quite out of this world
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Friday 11 July 2014
If you're yet to sign up for an online streaming service, then Extant, the glossy new Steven Spielberg-exec produced sci-fi series, may be the one that lures you in. Episodes will be available on Amazon Prime Instant Video one day after they're first broadcast in the US.
Oscar winner Halle Berry stars as Molly Woods, an astronaut who's recently completed a 13-month solo space mission for her private employers, the Yasumoto Corp. Upon her return, a routine medical examination reveals Molly is pregnant, which mathematically astute viewers will realise should be impossible. This also means that Molly's got some 'splainin to do with her husband John (ER heart-throb Goran Visnjic) and young son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon).
For the moment, though, John is busy with his own sinister baby-making project. He's seeking funding for a new race of androids, or "humanics", and anyone who questions the wisdom of this endeavour gets the same emotive response: his son Ethan is the prototype, and he's so adorable, what could possibly go wrong? When John loses his cool during the presentation – as mad scientists are wont to do – one interested party remains: the shadowy Hideki Yasumoto of Yasumoto Corp.
Sci-fi fans will recognise familiar themes here: robot insurrection, alien insemination and over-ambitious medical research, but if this series makes good on the pilot's most intriguing threads, it should evolve into Rosemary's Baby meets Alien meets Homeland. Molly feels uneasy, but is it her home that's changed? Or is it Molly?
For viewers also, the world of Extant is at once familiar and strange. The metallic spacesuits of Sixties sci-fi and the disturbing dystopias of the Eighties are both gone. Instead, Extant gives us a near-future that's very much like our present – only more beige. That's in keeping with cinema's current trend, but if Extant is to be the TV series that helps Amazon rival Netflix, the characters, at least, will have to develop more colour.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts