First Impressions


Aired on: CBS

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                Okay, I admit it, the new science fiction series touted by CBS as one of its latest hit shows even before it ever aired had me wondering.  What could be so good about Extant that CBS would forego the pilot stage and pre-order thirteen episodes from Amblin Entertainment just like that?  Must be something, right?  So, there I found myself, parked in front of the television to watch the premiere episode of Extant on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 9pm EST.

                Set in a distant future, Astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) has just returned to Earth from a thirteen-month mission in space.  Her family has noted a difference in her behavior, but, after all, thirteen months alone in space is nothing to sneeze at and a period of adjustment is bound to be needed. 

                So, Molly's robotics engineer husband (Goran Visnjic) continues on with his quest to peddle the Humanichs Project, a technological advancement in the robotics industry that not everyone is quite sure of.  Their "son" Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), a humanichs experiment, begins to act out upon Molly's return, but it's nothing but growing pains, right?  Not anything caused by a flaw in design, right?

                Oh, and Molly's behavior wouldn't have anything to do with the missing moments on her voyage would it?  You know, when she saw long dead astronaut Marcus Dawkins (Sergio Harford) in her airlock and let him inside the space station, then deleted all footage that could have documented the strange occurrence.  Then there is that little annoying physical trait she brought back from space.  You see, when Molly left for space it was with the understanding that she couldn't conceive children.  So how is it that upon returning from a solo mission in space that she finds herself pregnant?  And why is it that we get the impression that her bosses know all about her experience in space and are trying to hide it?

                I'm not quite sure how I felt about Extant.  I do know that there are two definitive stories going on here.  One involves Halle Berry's experience on her solo mission and the repercussions of that experience.  The other involves her husband's work on Humanichs and whether or not the Humanich will be the undoing of the world in a machine versus man sort of way.  I'm not really sure where the focus for the series lies or if the two stories will somehow intertwine.

                I have to say that I found Halle Berry to be wonderful in this role.  There were also notable appearances by Camryn Manheim as Dr. Sam Barton, Hiroyuki Sanada as the mysterious head of the Yasumoto Corporation poised to fund the Humanichs project and Brad Beyer as the believed to be dead astronaut Harmon Kryger.

                While I find the storyline to be a bit mysterious at the moment, it is only the premiere episode and something to keep in mind as I think about whether or not I want to keep Extant on my must watch list.  I think I'll take another gander before I write it off too soon.


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