Following the success of CBS’s “Under the Dome” last summer, “The Eye” network is bringing the series back, beginning on June 30th. In addition, since their regular prime-time lineup is pretty well solid, they’re focusing at developing more “limited-run” series – perhaps longer than mini-series, but aiming at creating “events” – the kind of programming that viewers really talk about.
Toward this end, CBS will debut a new sci-fi drama called “Extant,” starring Halle Berry. Berry will play an astronaut named Molly who returns to Earth – after a year-long solo mission in space and has trouble reconnecting with her husband and son. The last time Berry appeared on network television was in 1991 on “Knots Landing.” “Extant” was created by Steven Spielberg and is slated to premiere on July 2nd. The script was written by Mickey Fisher, who will executive produce along with Spielberg, Greg Walker, Brooklyn Weaver, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank.
According to a statement from CBS, her experiences “lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.” Berry will co-executive produce the series. For Berry, who is considered one of Hollywood’s biggest names, it’s a huge career transition.
“For five months a year I’ll get to live with and play this incredibly intelligent and vulnerable woman, and for the remainder of the year I’ll continue to look for other roles that move me as deeply as this one,” said Berry.
For CBS, it’s a notable star-power signing at a time when award-winning cable network shows such as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Homeland,” and “Game of Thrones” have been dominating the viewership battle.
“There’s only one Halle Berry and we are incredibly honored that she has chosen ‘Extant’ to expand her illustrious career,” said Spielberg. “As she does with everything she touches, she will bring a deep authenticity to her role and I very much look forward to working with her.”
Camryn Manheim has joined the cast as a series regular, and will play Berry’s best friend, and Pierce Gagnon, one of the stars of 2012′s Looper, will play Ethan, Molly’s son, who is more than he appears to be.
As excited as I am by all of this, one background item nags at me. According to HuffingtonPost.com, CBS discussed “Extant” at the Television Critics Association winter press tour and reporters noted that Berry’s character would return from her space mission pregnant with an alien baby who “poses a threat to her android son.” That seems like quite a stretch to me, especially if you keep the phrase “lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.” This sounds as if it’s a cross somewhere between “Species” and “Aliens.” I sure hope the believability factor (or the lack of one) doesn’t prove to be an obstacle that the show can’t overcome.