What do we know about new sci-fi series, Extant?

Sarah rounds up all the latest on forthcoming CBS sci-fi series, Extant, starring Halle Berry...

Space: it’s still the final frontier. We might not be putting men on the moon these days, or trying to set non-robotic foot on Mars, but there’s still a whole universe out there that we don’t know much about. And after decades of emotionally stunted vampires on the telly, it might be time we put astronauts back in the spotlight.

(Actually, before we start talking about Extant, can we start a petition for real life astronaut and Twitter sensation Chris Hadfield to get his own TV show? I’m not sure what it should involve, but frankly having seen him interacting with Little Mix on Sunday Brunch I’m convinced he’d be watchable and interesting doing literally anything.)

Anyway: this summer, we’re getting a new science fiction show about an astronaut, courtesy of CBS. The network has ordered thirteen episodes of Extant to be produced; the show started filming a fortnight ago, and will be on the air, in the US at least, from July. Here’s everything we know about it so far:

It’s produced by Steven Spielberg

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As big names go, Spielberg is… well, sizeable. He has a decent track record when it comes to science fiction, at least on film, though his recent TV producing work isn’t quite as reassuring. Spielberg was executive producer on the critically unloved but ratings-popular Stephen King adaptation Under The Dome, and slightly better reviewed alien invasion show Falling Skies. Also, there was Men in Black 3. So his presence doesn’t automatically mean that Extant will be amazing – but it does probably mean it’ll be glossy and dramatic.

It stars Halle Berry

Yup, Academy Award winning part-time super-powered mutant Halle Berry is playing the lead in Extant. Her character’s name is Molly Watts, and she’s an astronaut dealing with returning to Earth after a year-long solo mission in outer space. Which seems like it’d be quite a difficult thing to deal with, but Berry should have the acting chops to make it work.

Other actors that we know have been cast in Extant include: Alisha Boe (of Paranormal Activity 4 and Modern Family); Pierce Gagnon (from Looper and One Tree Hill); Grace Gummer (from American Horror Story and The Newsroom); Sergio Harford (from Without A Trace); Camryn Manheim (The Ghost Whisperer and Harry’s Law); Michael O’Neill (NCIS and Transformers); Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine and Lost); and Goran Visnjic (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Leverage).

At the moment it’s tough to know how big a role any of them will play in the show, but since Gagnon and Visnjic are both playing characters with the surname “Watts”, it’s a fair bet to say they’re going to be playing Berry’s character’s son and husband, respectively.

At least some of it was written by Mickey Fisher

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Doesn’t ring a bell? No, that’s not surprising. Fisher doesn’t have many credits to his name, to date: he wrote, produced, directed and starred in The King of Iron Town, a drama about a former athlete struggling with the banalities of adult life in 2004, and he wrote, produced, and directed a sports comedy called Summer Nuts in 2006, and that’s about it. So, um, he’s multi-talented, but his work to date suggests he’s more interested in sports than in science fiction.

According to the IMDB, he wrote and produced one episode of Extant, but there might well be more – it’s only listing one episode at the moment, despite the fact that we know there will be 13 episodes in the first season, so it looks like we’ll have to wait and see whether there are other writers involved.

It’s got robots, and probably an alien invasion

Plot details are unsurprisingly thin on the ground right now, but a few bits and pieces have been revealed. So, the basic premise is that Molly has returned to Earth after a year-long trip to outer space, and is struggling to come to terms with normal life. To complicate matters, she’s pregnant – and that might pose a threat to the future of the human race.

As an extra wrinkle, Molly’s husband is a scientist working in robotics. Specifically, creating humanoid androids, like their son Ethan. Something sounds a little bit Battlestar Galactica-y about that – expect questions about the nature of intelligence, and the definition of humanity.

Here’s the teaser

It really, really doesn’t say much, does it? We’ll let you know more details when we’ve got ‘em.

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