Third-episode verdict: Extant (CBS/Amazon Prime)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS
In the UK: Available on Amazon Prime

Three episodes into Extant – essentially Solaris meets Rosemary’s Baby mixed with just a hint of AI, Gravity and Moon, in which astronaut Halle Berry comes back to Earth after a year alone in space hallucinating her dead boyfriend and discovers she’s pregnant – and it’s clear that this is less science fiction, more an exercise in coming up with this year’s Under The Dome. It’s certainly got as much plot as Under The Dome, because after filling the first episode with every card it had it in its derivative pack, it’s slowly been eeking out those few puzzles and mysteries over a somewhat dull and unexciting chase-around storyline for the following two episodes.

Every episode has been pretty much the same: Berry runs around a bit in an effort to verify everything that the audience already knows and/or suspects, while artificially holding off from jumping to any logical conclusion or entrusting anyone with any new secrets. After experiencing minimum peril, she then discovers… not much.

Meanwhile, she and scientist husband Goran Visnjic watch while their creepy robot son acts creepily and yet fail to spot anything is awry. Of course, Visnjic and robot son have secrets, too, and none of them are in a sharing mood either. If anyone talked to anyone else, this would all be over a lot quicker.

As I pointed out in my review of the first episode, the show misses out on doing anything truly interesting with its quasi-futuristic setting, too. Following the pilot, which did at least make a stab at futurology, ever since we’ve had a future where we can send people up into space regularly, create an artificial intelligence that can be placed into a human-looking body, yet doesn’t have self-drive cars and has everyone carrying around mobile phones that do little more than what last year’s iPhone could. There’s definite intelligence behind the scenes in the writing staff, but it’s clear that because of either the budget or a belief that the audience isn’t that smart, the show would rather not push anyone too far intellectually and would rather wave its hands distractingly when ‘the science bits’ come up. Hell, in this episode we’ve just had someone talking about ‘sending postcards’ – does anyone even do that now, let alone in a world that should have 7G-enabled contact lenses and invisible tooth and ear implants for instant communication and information access?

So despite a pilot that did at least have a little promise, it’s time for me to leave Extant. So far, it’s all promise with no pay-off. Hell, I’m not even sure what it’s promising, it’s so frustratingly coy about letting us know what the aliens, corporate entities, et al are really interested in doing: communication, invasion, control? So many secrets and I’m not sure I really care what the answers are. So given what happened with Under The Dome, I think I’m going to bow out early rather than get strung along again. And if I ever change my mind, the whole thing will be on Amazon Prime forever so I can play catch-up.

Barrometer rating: 4
Rob’s predication: Is supposed to be only one season and hopefully it’ll stay that way


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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