Academy Award-winning producer Steven Spielberg launches a sci-fi thriller that explores the realms of family, evolution and, ultimately, the survival of the human race. Academy Award winner Halle Berry plays Molly Woods, an astronaut trying to readjust to life on earth after a 13-month space mission. But slipping back into her role as wife and mother gets complicated when her doctor (Golden Globe winner Camryn Manheim) discovers that after a year-long solo mission, Molly is inexplicably pregnant.
Adding to her stress, Molly struggles to reconnect with her "son," a humanoid robot created by her engineer husband (Goran Visnijic), both as a response to their infertility and as a scientific pet project. From the creation of life to the mysteries of space to the future of humanity, the world will never be the same. And neither will Molly Woods.
It's not everyday that a writer attracts the attention of Hollywood, let alone one of the biggest names in the film business. But, that's the case with Mickey Fisher, a man who won a writing contest and is now billed as the creator of a good sci-fi tv series on CBS. Not only that, Fisher's work drew Steven Spielberg and Halle Berry to his writing. Spielberg was so impressed that he got Fisher's idea made into a TV series called 'Extant' that stars Halle Berry. It's a pretty amazing accomplishment, given that this is Fisher's first shot at Hollywood.
'Extant' isn't the ultimate series that we've seen, nor is it the best sci-fi show to come out, but it definitely stands on its own with some of the best. And with a surprisingly excellent visual style and amazing special effects, along with some very strong performances by everyone involved, 'Extant' could evolve into one of the great shows we remember and watch over and over if done well. And luckily for us, CBS has given 'Extant' a second season, which will air this year.
'Extant' centers on a woman named Molly Woods (Halle Berry), who lives on Earth in the near future. For the past thirteen months, Molly has been aboard a space station called Seraphim, orbiting Earth alone. Once she is back from her thirteen month stint in space by herself, she realizes she's pregnant. But how can that be, since she was alone in space? That's the basic plot point for 'Extant', but it has many layers, some of which you'll recognize as why Spielberg was so interested in this project. Molly does not want to cause trouble at home with her husband John (Goran Visnjuc) and son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) with this strange and odd news.
Ethan in fact is not human, but rather an artificial intelligence robot created by John, similar to the Spielberg film 'A.I.'. Molly ties to figure out through a variety of characters what just is wrong with her, and what exactly is inside her. Without giving too much information away, the child inside of Molly may or may not be human, as a former astronaut who went through something similar tries to inform her. But there are many more layers at work here. Instead of concentrating on the whole action and science-fiction part of the story, 'Extant' examines, fairly well I might add, the dynamic between humans and the growing artificial intelligence within machines and robots.
The series dives into not just the technology of these A.I.'s, but the what our culture thinks of them and acts around them. The show itself looks incredible and looks to have a decent sized budget. Everything looks top notch and never silly or corny, which is rare for most sci-fi shows. And the use of future technology is perfectly integrated here and never hits us over the head with its absurdness, like we've seen many times before.
Halle Berry gives her all here and stays on point with her character through each episode. It's great to see an Oscar winner do this type of show and really commit to it. Everyone else in the series turns in excellent performances, though the young Pierce Gagnon (the young kid in 'Looper') is on his way to being one the greats. His performance of a life-like robot is even better than Hayley Joel Osment from 'A.I.', as Gagnon plays the character human for the most part, but gives us tons of little moments where we can see that his insides are metal and wires. 'Extant' has had a great first season run. One that answered some questions throughout the show, but also posed tons of others for future seasons. This well-acted and beautiful looking series is definitely worth checking out/
'Extant: Season 1' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This TV series has a very nice look to it. It was shot digitally, so there is no real layer of grain or filmic look to the show. The result is a very pristine and clean looking series. The detail is very sharp and vivid throughout, revealing wrinkles, makeup blemishes, individual hairs, and scars very nicely in closeup shots. The costumes look great here too with some fine stitching present with all of its imperfections. The wider shots also show a great amount of detail, whether we are in space or on Earth, which gives the picture a good amount of depth.
Colors tend to pop most of the time. Depending on which setting we are in, the color spectrum can go to a pristine looking blue and green to the warmer colors of the spectrum with some nice browns, yellows, and reds. I wouldn't say the colors are exactly bright, but they seem organic here and not over-saturated. The black levels are consistently deep and inky and the skin tones are natural. I didn't notice any video noise or aliasing, but there was some very minor banding that cropped up throughout the first season, but it's nothing really to write home about. Overall, this video presentation does its job, leaving it high marks.
This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sound quite good. Despite the cover of this Blu-ray, which might allow you to assume this is a big action sci-fi tv series, is rather a dialogue focused show and is more psychological than action. Sound effects are loud and robust throughout, giving a realistic sound to every noise we hear. The surrounds do a great job of layering the volume of these sound effects and provide some great directionality.
Ambient noises also sound great. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, which is perfectly centered. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, hissing, or shrieking either. The bass kicks in during the heavier action scenes when they occur or when the score is more intense. The LFE is great and the dynamic range is wide, leaving this audio presentation with solid marks.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 15 Mins.) - There are several deleted scenes spread across the four discs here. All of which add to some of the character development, but ultimately didn't add to the story too much. But they're worth the watch if you like the show.
The Story of 'Extant' (HD, 15 Mins.) - The cast and crew discuss the overall storyline of the series along with the themes, characters, and even the writing process for each episode.
'Extant': Filming Season One (HD, 21 Mins.) - This is a good and informative look on making season one with an emphasis on the pilot episode. There are cast and crew interviews along with on set footage where we see Halle Berry acting, making of some of the visual effects, and just how they constructed some of the series, all the way up to the last episode of the season.
'Extant': The Cast (HD, 17 Mins.) - Here the cast of the show discuss their characters in great detail and just which each person brings to the show.
The Mythology of 'Extant' (HD, 7 Mins.) - Here is a quick look at who the characters are and what the world is like set in this universe.
The Offspring (HD, 8 Mins.) - This is a glimpse at the alien life in the series.
The Future World of 'Extant' (HD, 18 Mins.) - In this extra, the costumes, sets, weapons, and set construction are all discussed in good detail.
The Visual Effects of 'Extant' (HD, 10 Mins.) - Here is a look at some of the big visual effects for season one and how the artists and engineers made them happen. Pretty cool stuff at work here.
Gag Reel (HD, 7 Mins.) - A good helping of laughs, goofs, missed cues, and flubbed lines.
Trailers (HD, 7 Mins.) - Several tv promos on CBS for the show are presented here.
'Extant' is a great sci-fi show that hits a lot of the right chords. Spielberg has done a great job of not jumping the shark here and has conjured up a great cast and crew including Halle Berry. There is much more at work with this show than meets the eye than just the technology and sci-fi aspect. The melodramatic storylines and culture are as interesting as the action beats and science of the show. The video and audio presentations are both great and there are a ton of excellent extras that are worth watching. If you're a fan of good tv with great characters and a sci-fi aspect, by all means, give 'Extant' a shot.