Created by Mickey Fisher Produced by Stephen Spielberg This show is much more enjoyable than it by rights should be. It’s a compendium of sci-fi clichés, familiar from both theater and TV movies dating back to the 1960s. Astronaut on solo mission, comes back changed. Alien contact. Impossible pregnancy. Robot baby. There’s actually a line of dialogue that laughs off the “Robot Uprising!” Somehow none of this signifies a dearth of imagination. In movies, any one of these plots would lead to an over-dramatic chase scene with lots of messy physical feats before ultimate crisis is averted by the hero. But this isn’t a movie. It’s a 13-episode TV series, already bought and paid for. And that means we don’t have to get to that chase sequence immediately (if at all). There’s time to explore each of these plot angles, and maybe even a guiding vision of how to do so. Asset numero uno is Halle Berry herself. She’s an everywoman, someone we relate to, just dialed up to an 11 of ideal beauty. Somehow her physical perfection equates to the kind of exceptional performance we expect from an astronaut entrusted with a long-term solo mission in space. And because Berry brings a vulnerability and emotive subjectivity to her predicaments, we can just as easily see her being the sort (if driven far enough) to put on a diaper and drive cross country non-stop on a mission known only to herself. She’s very much not a robot. Which makes her husband’s business, Humanics, all the creepier. Because he makes them, and he’s made one that lives in their house, and calls her mom. And if we get the usual “you’re not the same” from her friends and family as she struggles to readjust to a family life that looks ideal on the surface, we get the new wrinkle of “he’s changed while I’ve been gone!” from Berry’s Molly Woods to keep us on her side of the equation. We also get hints that all is not well with Goran Visnjic‘s John Woods, when he gives an Apple-style presentation for his new robot revolution that goes horribly awry, mostly because he seems to almost have a religious fervor for his creations. Add in the fact that Berry and he couldn’t conceive naturally, but also that she had a previous love who died, and this is clearly a second-time around attempt to put a life together (despite their convincing sexual closeness and intimacy) after earlier crash-ups. The sci-fi stylings are well done, just that hint of the future a few steps further along than our own. Everybody wears monochrome shades or black and white, but that could just be a fashion fad. Everyone still uses tablets, but now with added Hologram feature. Your bathroom mirror is also a TV. Your trash compactor is some sort of energy saving replicator. Downtown has been fully redesigned by I.M. Pei. The space station is clearly much more 2001 than Gravity, all clockwork perfection with little sense of impending disaster. What happened in space wasn’t about meteors for Berry, but was something much more personal, as whatever made contact (if it wasn’t all in her head, to judge by the on-board camera logs she frantically deleted, where she talks to thin air) took on the aspect of her dead partner. And there’s yet ANOTHER dead and/or missing partner, a suicide from a previous mission. Only he’s alive, and stalking her, and warning her of a conspiracy, probably from parent corporation International Space Exploration Agency (the subtle way they let us know that NASA has been privatized is pretty slick). In fact, when she submits herself for mandatory psychological debriefs, both her direct supervisor and the owner are watching secretly on their sneaky tablets, so the age of surveillance is another subtext the show acknowledges. That is a lot to have going on, but they’ve got twelve more episodes to get there, and actors like Visjnic, Camryn Manheim and Hiroyuki Sanada who can all flip the switch from ally and associate to nefarious creep if needed. Let’s just hope the script stays true to Molly, who wisely is playing it pretty close so far. Extant 1.01 "Reentry"3.5Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.