Last summer, CBS aired “Extant,” a new science-fiction series that has a few things in common with the 1982 blockbuster, “E.T.”
a) It has the two letters, “E” and “T.” b) Steven Spielberg, who directed “E.T.,” is an executive producer of “Extant.” c) the latter is being filmed in the Culver City studios, where “E.T.” was made as well.
But where “E.T.” revolved around a sweet and shy alien, “Extant” focuses on an equally sweet and shy, life-like artificial intelligence.
A conflation of the nascent trends in robotics research and space industry, and the old science-fiction staple of alien invasion, it’s a solidly entertaining and suspenseful drama that’s a must-watch.
Au courant, intelligent, and sentimental, it explores the relationship between a human mother and her two offspring, of radically different origins: one, born in a laboratory; another, in space.
Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is an astronaut with the private space firm, International Space Exploration Agency. After about a year-long solo mission on board the space station, Seraphim, she returns home, and discovers, much to her surprise, that she’s pregnant after being told by doctors that she can’t ever have a child.
Her husband, John (Goran Visnjic), a cutting-edge roboticist, has designed their son, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), who’s every bit a cerebral and adorable little boy—except that he’s an android.
Hollywood has mostly depicted machines as monstrous figures. But “Extant” takes a deeply moving look at them, portraying robots not as welts of cold circuitry and chips, but as creations that are just as human, if not more humane.
In her quest to puzzle out what transpired while she was away, Molly learns of secrets that pose a threat to humankind.
The company’s chief executive, the sharp and stoic Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) has been mining an asteroid for a deeply private gain: to extract a longevity-extending serum. A deadly side-effect of his orbital operation is that it has opened the door to a bizarre entity.
The radiation-like life-form is invisible to the naked eye, but is predatory all the same. It’s mode of attack, if at all, it can be called such, is to ensnare its victims in credible, if disorienting, webs of fantasy.