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‘Extant’ Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying

'Extant' Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying

CBS’ sci-fi summer series “Extant,” starring Halle Berry, returns for a second season, July 1 at 10pm, with Berry back in the lead, as astronaut Molly Woods, as she discovers that she has unwittingly put the human race on a path to destruction and that she and mysterious stranger J.B. Richter (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) may be the only hope for survival. 

Discussing what fans can expect in season 2, producers of the series spoke to Yahoo TV, sharing a handful of details on what’s to come. Here are a few of note:

–  “I think Season 2 is a little sexier, a little soapier,” said Kruger, adding, “It’s a substantial reboot, in that we’re going to come in, in this time and place, several months [after the Season 1 finale], and that puts Molly in a completely different head space. Her mental stability is potentially in question, and we’re going to find out how that happens. There is a significant amount of new casting that changes the landscape of what we’re doing, and it’s less about Molly as mom, and more about Molly as warrior. Molly as a sexy warrior.”

I like the “sexy warrior” part, but not so sure about it getting “a little soapier.”

– Berry will be joined this season by the aforementioned Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who will play a cop who meets Molly in a “very unlikely way,” as Kruger said, and, of course, there’s an immediate connection, and likely an eventual romance. Said the producers, Morgan “plays, essentially, the cop of the future, and we’re approaching policing in the future a little bit like Uber approaches taxi driving […] It’s been privatized to some degree, and you work by the piece… You can accept or decline different crimes, and they pay different amounts. He and Molly cross paths in the first episode. They are classic opposites: Molly is an astronaut, a scientist, she’s been to space, she has a dual PhD in things that most people can’t pronounce. He’s your everyman. It’s something that I think a lot of us thought the show was sort of missing last year, the audience perspective, the audience everyman in the situation, who is looking at these extraordinary events and saying, ‘”Holy hell, there are aliens!’”

I’m not sure if that’s what was missing for me in season 1. There just wasn’t much that hooked me. It was kind of dull and uneventful, and I actually struggled to finish watching the whole season. To borrow from “Saturday Night Live,” more cowbell!!

– Another new character will be played by David Morrissey (you’ll remember him as The Governor on “The Walking Dead”). Named Tobias Shepherd, he will be the head of the Global Security Commission, and an old friend of Molly’s, “a former general, a Marine general, and in some ways he is the polar opposite of Jeffrey Dean’s character, because Jeffery Dean is the consummate outsider, a guy who lives outside the system and is not fond of the system. Shepherd is totally a man of the system… You don’t get to be a general without being a man of the system, and those two world views are completely different approaches to everything and cause a lot of conflict. It puts Molly in the middle,” the producers added.

– So if Molly gets a new love interest, what about her hubby from season 1? Played by Goran Visnjic, John Woods will appear at the start of season 2, and then will exit the series. How exactly will he exit? The producers didn’t reveal. Also Camryn Manheim’s character, Molly’s doctor and friend, will be gone in season 2.

Promising a (much needed) shift in tone and pacing in the upcoming new season, the producers said, “the world is changing, and so the tone of the show is changing. It’s a little more soapy, but it’s a little pulpier and fun, too. The stakes were so high with the themes we were dealing with last season… It was about this pregnant woman, and she had her baby taken from her, and this year the characters have little left to lose, and in going for it, there’s a little more fun. A little more gallows humor, too […] We took a page out of the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ book in the sense that the things we loved so much about that show was… the fate of the human race hangs in the balance, and they look at the moral and ethical issues that arise in that context… And it’s about exploring love in desperate times. That’s kind of the nature of what’s happening in the backdrop, but we’re getting into the reality of: What would life really be like under these circumstances? How do you go about your daily life of living and loving? Those relationships in desperate times take on a whole new level of urgency.”

So things are apparently going to get more exciting, overall, with raised stakes, which is all good!

In its first season, “Extant” was the most-watched new scripted program of the summer, winning its Wednesday 10-11pm time period in viewers, with an 8.65 million average. When I heard that it had been renewed, I was actually surprised, but happy for its star. Its season finale drew just 5.4 million viewers, which was significantly lower than the 9.58 million it attracted for its series premiere – suggesting that, as the season progressed, it lost viewers (over 40% of them by the final episode), which is why I said I was surprised that CBS renewed it for another season.

But it’s back, seemingly leaner, and faster. Does it deliver? Here are snips from 2 reviews of season 2 that I read today.

First, from Variety: “Extant” started with high hopes in outer space, before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere and, creatively speaking, gradually crashing and burning. Still, CBS had a sci-fi drama starring Halle Berry and a nifty Amazon deal to help defray the cost, which likely explains the second-season attempt to continue the project while undertaking a pretty dramatic makeover. As a result, much of the show has been jettisoned, leaving behind the bones of the original, while introducing Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a surly cop/bounty hunter who grudgingly gets involved. It’s a courageous effort, but still looks like a failure to launch.

And from The Oregonian: The Season 2 opener doesn’t make it particularly clear, but apparently, we’re still in for some blather about threats to humankind, global conspiracies, and blah, blah, blah. After the flubbed potential of its first go-round, “Extant” has a lot of work to do to convince me it’s worth adding to the watchlist. But based on Berry, Morgan and Morrissey, I’ll give it a few more episodes to see if this season’s storyline gets into gear, or if it again floats off into irrelevance.

So, not particularly encouraging. But these are the thoughts of just 2 people. You can check it out for yourselves, when “Extant” season 2 premieres, July 1 at 10pm on CBS.

You still have time to catch up on season one. It’s not streaming on Netflix yet; Amazon bought the exclusive streaming rights to the series, so, if you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can watch all of season 1 there. Or rent the DVD from Netflix.

Ahead of season’s 2 premiere, CBS has released a just over 1-minute summary of season 1, to remind you of what happened, and where things stand as the new season kicks off:

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