I feel like a bit of a fool right now because I forgot that Extant was even on TV. Apparently I’m not the only one, because CBS announced the show’s cancellation today (they called it a “conclusion”) after just two seasons; with a silver-lining spin that they’re also developing a new drama for Extant star Halle Berry.
Extant followed Molly, played by Berry, an astronaut who finds herself pregnant after years of infertility; and oh yeah, she’s also just returned from 13 months alone in space. (Dun-dun-dun! There are several hours of video recording footage deleted. Hmmm.) In addition to Berry the show attracted a strong cast including Grace Gummer (American Horror Story, The Newsroom), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) but never managed to draw an audience despite strong critical support.
The series was part of CBS’s initiative into new original dramas during the summer, which also brought Under the Dome and Zoo to air. Dome was cancelled this year after 3 seasons while Zoo, based on the James Patterson novel and starring Billy Burke, has been renewed.
CBS tried to perk up the audience for Extant by retooling the story for season 2, changing showrunners, replacing male lead Goran Visnjic with Dean, even moving it to a choice timeslot behind Big Brother. Nothing worked, but it was still profitable thanks to a deal with Amazon allowing the streaming service to add episodes just a few days after air. The fees offset production costs and are allowing CBS to branch out from the traditional summer staples of reality shows and reruns.
Similar streaming deals are in place for Zoo and upcoming drama BrainDead, from the creators of The Good Wife.
Despite Extant’s recent changes Berry said it was the right time to end the show. “I am so proud of what we accomplished on Extant. This season seemed such a natural place to end Molly’s journey that I, along with CBS, felt it best served the story to leave it there. I’ve loved this experience working with such a talented cast and creative team. It was my first foray into episodic television, and I’m excited to continue my relationship with CBS, producing more compelling stories through my 606 Films production banner.”
The compelling story she’s speaking of is Legalease, a drama written by Steven Lichtman that sounds like it’s ripped from John Grisham’s headlines. The story follows a biracial Chicago lawyer who heads to New Orleans for a case, where she’s faced with a good-ole boy partner and subversive and overt bias in the legal system. Berry and Lichtman will executive produce along with Dan Thomas and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (Extant, Mona Lisa Smile). No word yet on whether Berry will star.