by ALEX CARNEVALE
creator Mickey Fischer
There is a scene in CBS' miscarriage of a television series Extant where Halle Berry starts to make out with her alien son. She is interrupted by bounty hunter J.D. Richter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) before things get too exciting. Halle Berry is looking kind of run down. I'm worried about her.
Every Extant begins with a recap of the series so far, which takes about twenty-five minutes. It is then followed by a moment of Halle Berry screaming about one of her sons. The first is named Ethan, and he is an android. The second was the alien son she conceived in space, and for whom she harbors a quasi-sexual attraction. Her reaction to this situation, as with every other stressful moment, is to break down in womanly tears.
There was only one movie, Mathieu Kassovitz' masterpiece Gothika, where Halle Berry was locked up into a mental institution and acted completely unhinged through the film's running time. Every single person involved in Extant took this to heart as the most magical thing. Berry's Molly Woods has the same initial reaction to every situation she is put in — she starts screaming and fecklessly battering the person with which she is upset.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan was brought onto this horrific tragedy of a television show to explain "I have a problem with authority." He is a veteran of the war in Iraq. His acting has regressed to a primordial state in which every single line he delivers is smirked out. Unlike previous roles, Morgan has grown in his grey beard and he looks every bit of his forty-nine years. "Listening to bullies isn't my strong suit," he explains. Mmk.
The most charismatic young actress in Hollywood was brought onto Extant to class things up a bit. Kiersey Clemons was cast as an unfeeling android named Lucy. (They were unfamiliar with the movie of the same name.) This strikes me as a misuse of Clemons' considerable talents, but that is the least of Extant's problems. Switching the casting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Clemons would have made for a show that is about 100x more interesting.
The first thing Lucy asks when she wakes up is to look in a mirror. The scientists behind this program have equipped Clemons' character with an ethical implant, which is an incredibly made-up sounding thing. It seems that something subtle has gone wrong with Lucy, and we are meant to know this by the fact that she takes a woman's dress from a closet without her permission.
Molly's android son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) is tucked into bed with a children's book every night. His most recent tome was The Velveteen Rabbit, which is about a stuffed rabbit coming to life. Do you get it, or do you maybe need to watch another recap of Extant? Molly Woods went into space... BUT SHE DIDN'T COME BACK ALOOOOOOOOOOOONE!
The government tries to kill Molly and her alien son in a drone strike while they are making out. When she survives, they incorporate her as part of their team to track down the alien. Team leader Toby Shepherd (David Morrissey) has no other options. "We're putting our faith in a woman of questionable emotional stability!" someone screams in objection. They give Molly a superpowered gun and some remedial instruction. "When I set my sight on a target, I nail it!" she cries out happily.
But don't forget about the nerd! He wears a sweater to work! Someone thinks this is a real thing:
We can fix this, one of the scientists tells the nerd. We can change the algorithms. Oh, good. Fixing Extant is completely out of the question, it is like watching kids get dressed up to perform their part in a school play. Actually, the acting and writing is substantially worse than that. About 90 percent of the scenes begin with someone saying, "Let me get this straight," so we know the story is being recapped.
It turns out that Halle Berry's alien son is impregnating a bunch of women. They die as a result of conception, which is incidentally not really his fault. Although she has agreed to murder her son, she finds she is too weak to actually go through with it. Instead she begins to cry.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
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