Steven Spielberg has returned to television with at least a minor triumph. His new show, Extant stars Halle Berry and Goran Visnjic as Drs. Holly and John Woods, husband and wife scientists supporting each other’s goals while collaborating on raising their (android) son. CBS boasts Extant as this summer’s number one new show.
Yes, Extant has some wild concepts, including an alien-human hybrid child, a space-station where astronauts exposed to radiation fields hallucinate their dead loved-ones, and of course the android child. But at the core of story are characters who — even though they may be flawed, damaged or too smart for their own good — act out of good old-fashioned virtue.
Holly actually maintains a loving, even submissive attitude toward her husband. When they have a conflict, these two characters don’t yell and scream and storm off. They have a spirited, yet civil, conversation where they each explain goals, needs, feelings and expectations and they arrive at a solution both can live with. First Holly learned to accept and care for the android son, and later John supported Holly through a secret inner struggle. While Holly kept secret the pregnancy she returned with from a solo space mission, she felt conflicted over not sharing it with her husband. She didn’t defiantly go it alone as a good feminist, she struggled with her feelings and when she was ready, she shared it with her husband John. And he in turn supported, validated and stood by her.
John puts a great deal of effort into being a supportive, faithful husband and a good father. John has a gorgeous and brilliant colleague (not a partner, an employee) who cooperates with him in the design and construction of the android boy. For the first handful of episodes, colleague Julia appears smitten with John, but he maintains a professional relationship with her. John remains steadfastly devoted to his wife and (android) son. There’s no flirting with danger, no will ‘they or won’t they.’ John is a rock of devotion to Holly. As an intellectual, fatherhood doesn’t come easy to John, even though he loves his family. John struggles to support Holly through the secret part of the pregnancy and curbs his temper with his son. John sets limits with the boy, delivers consequences, and nurtures good behavior. John’s character isn’t lampooned or disrespected, as far too many TV fathers are. He’s treated with honor and dignity.
This show does have plenty of intrigue, conspiracy and periodic action scenes and scenes in space. There’s the Space Agency leader and the corporate titan with their own agendas, and the security director, who finds his heart and perhaps even his faith. There’s the Astronaut who faked his own death in the wake his hallucinations aboard the station. And there’s the android, the robots and people with cyborg limbs. But at the core of this show is John and Holly’s family. They live amid this incredible futuristic milieu, struggling with secrets, pressure and temptation, yet still remain true to each other and true to the values and virtues that once made American families strong. The more of us return to virtues of love, honor, faith and faithfulness, the stronger we can all be again.
Extant airs on CBS on Wednesday evenings for three more episodes and streams four days later on Amazon Instant Video. Extant is available at no extra cost to Amazon Prime subscribers. A Blu-ray release of Extant will come in the fall with behind the scenes extras.
Here are links to the show on CBS, IMDb and Amazon
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