In a bold move from BYUtv, the new epic SciFi series, Extinct, premiered this weekend. I say bold, because it is unlike anything BYUtv has done up to this point. This is a genuine effort on their part to put together what looks like and, at times, feels like a very legitimate science fiction series. This is beyond anything they have accomplished so far. A huge departure from their typical “reality” Tv shows or their very popular sketch comedy. But is it good?
So, here’s the rundown. This is Earth, 400 years after an alien race has invaded and basically wiped out all of humanity. We see a drone of some sort crash into some water. Somewhere that looks a lot like southern Utah. This blue glowy stuff is in the water and it forms a human being, a male, as well as forming clothing for him (this is BYUtv). He is joined by two more newly formed humans. They find out that they are now in the future, after dying during the original invasion 400 years ago. The drone tells tham all of this and that he can lead them to a settlement where there are more people.
So, basically we have ourselves a post-apocalyptic tale. As well as an alien invasion story. As well as a mystery. As well as morphed bad humans hunting down good humans. As well as a viral threat. As well as a family rivalry. It’s a lot going on and a lot introduced in the first two episodes. It may be too much going on and it may be that one thing this show might suffer from is an identity crisis. In any case, at the core, this is a story about three people chosen to bring the human race back from extinction. And that is an ok premise.
It looks good. I wasn’t sure, visually, what the quality of the show would be. Sometimes, when networks try to do SciFi, they screw it up visually. Sometimes it is so bad, a good story won’t save it. I was worried this would be the case for Extinct. It wasn’t. The film quality is great. The visual effects, for the most part, were pretty solid. The alien ships, the drones, they all look pretty believable. This was a huge positive, and it kept me watching through the first two episodes. It shows, with the right talent and writing and story, BYU could pull this off.
The story didn’t totally suck. This was the other major worry I had. They have been pushing this as Orson Scott Card’s next big thing. I love Ender’s Game (the book. I only have luke warm feelings toward the film), but I have read other things from Card, more recent things, and I have not enjoyed them nearly as much. I wasn’t sure if this being Card’s next major project was a huge selling point for me. He doesn’t get in the way of the story, too much. There is plenty there to keep me interested. I want to find out what happened to the settlement. I want to find out what the Skin Riders are. I want to find out if our trio can make it. I may watch more.
It’s time to stop with all the flashbacks. Flashbacks have their place in story telling, but it seems to be turning into quite the cliche in film and television. I love the show Arrow, but the flashbacks are almost unbearable. There are a lot of flashbacks in Extinct, to life at the time of the invasion. It is almost unbearable here too. We will understand the invasion and how hard life was and all of that from good storytelling. We don’t need to see it too. At least I feel that way.
It does feel at times like a show made for a niche market. Andrew Hansen on my Facebook page mentioned that the niche nature of the show might kill it. There are definitely times when the niche market shines through. For example, the two male protagonists are named Ezra and Abram. Two totally normal names, right? And the main antagonist (so far) is named Silas. These are old testament names, and it sticks out. Plus, and I’m not kidding, one of the drones uses the word “heretofore,” which is a weird word in any normal context. These kinds of things stick out. It won’t bother the main audience the show was intended for, mostly, but it will prevent it from reaching a broader audience.
Overall, we are only two episodes in. It’s hard to tell what this show will be based on just two episodes. They are definitely building to something, and they have me intrigued to see what it is. BYUtv has put a lot of resources toward this show, and I think they will give it the time it might need to develop, and maybe even succeed. If this were on a major network, I would say it wouldn’t make it long, but it’s different on BYUtv. They will give the show time to develop. If they do, it might be pretty decent.
I would recommend checking it out. If you like SciFi, dystopian future shows, you might like this, and it might be worth your time. It definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it wasn’t the train wreck I thought it would be. This continues to build on the foundation laid by Granite Flats as BYUtv continues to branch out into the world of scripted drama. It may not be the best show ever, but it will get better with time, if the network continues to support it, and it may help pave the road for more quality shows in the future.
Share with us your thoughts of the show. Share in the comments section below, or in the comments on Facebook, or you can email me directly at [email protected]. Extinct is on BYUtv, but it can also be found on the BYUtv app (that’s how I watched it) or online at BYUtv. The first episodes are available to stream right now through the app.