Monday, November 02, 2015

EXTANT (2014 - 2015)


After two seasons, CBS has cancelled the Halle Berry series EXTANT.  

At TV GUIDE's story on the cancellation, Sam R left the following insightful comment:

I was ambivalent about Extant until the middle of Season 2, when the story changed direction and became something extraordinary. Despite lifting ideas from other works, it was unique in a number of respects. One is its unusual take on the 'hero's journey' for Halle Berry's character, involving transformation via alien DNA. In a lesser story, it would have made her a victim or a monster, but instead she becomes stronger and more enlightened. Instead of making her inhuman, it enhances her humanity, potentially making her the next step in human evolution.
The story also serves as a sucker punch directed at the part of the audience that thinks in nativist, zero sum game, us versus them terms. What, at first appears to be a biological alien invasion, instead becomes an allegory about everything from refugees, to children of immigrants, to people of mixed race. Those in the audience who sided with the Threat Assessment Algorithm and officials who wanted to militarize the Humanics (humanoid robots) program and use them and a virus to commit genocide against the alien-human hybrids are dealt a hard blow. I suspect that the highly controversial nature of this theme is the reason for much of the hatred being directed at both the series and at Halle Berry. I personally got in a heated argument with someone at work who got angry and stopped watching precisely at the point when Halle Berry switched sides and began defending the hybrids.
There is also a unique element to the Humanics part of the story. On the one hand, the robot child Ethan, develops, through life experience, more humanity than most humans. On the other hand, Lucy, who is activated as a fully formed adult and, without the benefit of life experience, is trained to kill, becomes a manipulative sociopath.

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