“Extant” – A Less Campy “American Horror Story”


The new CBS TV series “Extant” has a few plot points that should feel very familiar to fans of “American Horror Story.”

The Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi series and Ryan Murphy’s kooky and spooky horror series might not seem all that similar at first glance, and it looks like “Extant” is definitely going to be lacking the campiness that makes “American Horror Story” so great. However, these two series share many common elements.

Big Name Stars

Just like Jessica Lange, Halle Berry is an Oscar-winning actress known for her movie work. She’s also making the move to TV to play a strong character. However, Berry won’t be using black magic and a broomstick to fly through the air; instead her astronaut character has to rely on a lack of gravity to get her feet off the ground. Molly Wood also has to wear drab futuristic duds that will make you miss Fiona’s fab witch wardrobe. Unfortunately, it looks ravish-me red dresses are extinct in “Extant.”

Movie Mashups

Berry’s sci-fi series and “American Horror Story” are both mash-ups of scary stories that we’ve seen before. “American Horror Story: Coven” gave us a serial killer with a torture fetish, a serial killer ghost, zombies, Frankenstein, and witches. The show is getting pretty darn close to referencing just about every horror movie that exists. Berry’s sci-fi series also seems to reference quite a few horror flicks. She’s floating around in space alone just like Ripley from “Alien,” and she has a creepy android kid named Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) who brings to mind devil child Damien from “The Omen.”

Ethan is the creation of Berry’s onscreen hubby John (Goran Visnjic), a “humanic creator” who builds robots. In one creepy scene in the trailer, Ethan tries to convince his mother that a bird was dead when he found it (serial killer vibes, much?). In another, he basically tells his terrified mother that mankind is about to get apocalypsed (but at least he does it with a cute drawing). The android child also brings to mind Steven Spielberg’s non-horror movie “A.I.,” and what happens to Molly is like the sci-fi version of “Rosemary’s Baby” (more on this in a minute).

Bizarre Sexual Encounters

In “American Horror Story: Murder House,” Connie Britton’s character got impregnated by a ghost school shooter in a latex gimp suit. And in “American Horror Story: Asylum,” two different characters got impregnated by aliens. Something similar happens to Molly, but the aliens don’t come all the way to Earth to fetch her. Instead Molly’s alien lover waits until the astronaut is all alone on a space station, Sandra Bullock-style. And instead of disguising himself as angel George Clooney or Rubber Man, the E.T. masquerades as a normal-looking guy (Sergio Harford) who just pops up like a “Murder House” ghost. He then proceeds to play the pity card by telling Berry that he needs help. This extraterrestrial encounter spawns the next “American Horror Story” similarity.

Alien Pregnancies

“American Horror Story” had a baby Antichrist and anti-climatic alien babies who were supposed to change the world (spoiler alert: They didn’t. Instead they grew up to have such boring careers that you probably don’t even remember what they were). “Extant” also has an alien pregnancy, and it looks like Berry’s android offspring thinks that her baby is a bad seed who is going to make mankind go extinct, just like Connie Britton’s sinister spawn. Or is Molly really a futuristic Mary who’s about to give birth to mankind’s best chance for survival? Whatever the case may be, Molly’s previous inability to conceive obviously has her wanting to see this pregnancy through. There were also conception complications in “American Horror Story: Coven,” but Sarah Paulson’s character didn’t score a miracle baby.

Men Trying to Build Children

In “American Horror Story,” Dr. Charles Montgomery tried to please his wife by building a baby out of the remains of their murdered son and an aborted fetus. Unfortunately, he just succeeded in creating the bloodthirsty Infantata that still probably haunts your nightmares. In “Extant,” droid designer John also tries to build a child for his wife. However, Ethan isn’t built from organic material. It will be interesting to see if the creepy mech kid turns into a killer who decides that humans don’t deserve to exist or if he uses his artificial intelligence to save the day when his mother gives birth to a monster far more destructive than the “Murder House” Frankenstein.

I’m looking forward to seeing Berry as a mom with a very twisted modern family, but I wish Ryan Murphy thought of the idea of a mother with an alien baby and a robot baby first (he probably wishes the same thing).

“Extant” airs July 9 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Photo: CBS
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Treva Bowdoin is a freelance writer who loves crazy comedies and creepy shows like "The Walking Dead" and "American Horror Story".

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