Extant

 
Twisty futuristic thriller; realistic robots a bit creepy.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Women and people of color can achieve positions of power in science and on multiple levels of government.

Positive role models

The central characters are dedicated professionals and parents (of a sort); they think and talk about doing the right things. Side characters are complex and not always honest about their motives.

Violence

Suicide is referred to frequently. One of the main characters is a roboticist; unsettling shots of disembodied eyeballs and waxen, creepy faces are shown. Gore is low, but body-horror imagery is high.
 

Sex

Since the plot revolves around a mysterious pregnancy, viewers can expect to see and hear many references to sex. A married couple kisses in the shower; no nudity is seen.

Language

Infrequent language that's rather subversive: In one episode, Molly utters a mild "dammit," prompting her work computer to demand $5 for the swear jar.
 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Party guests are shown with cocktails. The main character specifically mentions she hasn't had alcohol in more than a year due to her job.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Extant is a futuristic thriller that revolves around a mysterious pregnancy. Sex is referred to frequently and sometimes takes place on-screen, but no nudity is shown. A married couple showers together and kisses intimately. The overall level of violence and gore is very low but may frighten or traumatize some children; due to a side plot about realistic robots a main character hopes to adopt out, viewers can expect to see and hear a lot of body-horror imagery: medical examinations, shelves full of disembodied robot eyeballs and faces, a hatch in a young boy's skin that leads to a battery pack. A small child is actually a lifelike robot and is frequently in danger or acting oddly, which may scare young viewers. A dead animal (a bird) is seen on-screen, and it's implied a young child killed it. Partygoers drink alcohol.

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What's the story?

In the sci-fi thriller EXTANT, astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) has just returned from a 13-month solo mission in space with a surprise: She's pregnant. This will vastly complicate reintegrating herself into life with her husband, handsome roboticist John (Goran Visnjic), and their son, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). But, since Ethan is a super-realistic robot instead of an actual human, things are actually already pretty complicated, particularly because Ethan has been acting strangely since Molly returned. Meanwhile, shadowy government and corporate figures are moving in on Molly; they have secrets of their own. Just what kind of program is mysterious billionaire Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) running? What does he know about Molly's mission or what she found? Why is a dead fellow agent turning up late at night in her garden? And just how did Molly manage to get pregnant while she was all alone in space?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and starring a host of familiar faces, Extant comes with a pedigree that could easily have interfered with its storytelling. It's hard to ignore that (movie star!) Halle Berry is playing a regular ol' wife and mom, albeit one who strapped on a space suit and spent a year in zero gravity. Still, the show revolves around such intriguing premises and is so well written and acted that it rises above being a mere stunt. The show's central mystery, that of Molly's pregnancy, raises a lot of meaty issues, as do the relationships with her robot son and robot-maker husband, who insists his son loves him even as Molly worries that his love is only a "series of commands."

The best sci-fi wraps far-out ideas around realistic characters, and on this level Extant scores. This is science fiction that will make viewers both think and feel, a rare combination -- particularly rare in oft-cheesy TV sci-fi. Also, on a purely aesthetic level, the show is gorgeous, with luminous sets and interestingly framed shots. This is great whole-family viewing for sci-fi geeks.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about when Extant is set. Is it in modern times? How can you tell?

  • Extant was made by some very high-profile filmmakers and movie stars. Why would these celebrities want to participate in a network television show? What types of storytelling does TV make possible that a film does not?

  • Are Molly and John Woods wealthy or poor? How can you tell?

TV details

Cast:Halle Berry, Goran Visnjic, Camryn Manheim
Network:CBS
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Robots, Science and nature, Space and aliens
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Extant was written by

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Quality

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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