A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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