Exploring the art of storytelling.
The fourth episode of “Extant,” “Shelter,” was similar to past episodes (family tension, effects of having an artificially intelligent son, and the mysteriously cruel behaviors of Hideki Yasumoto) only with worse acting.
Towards the beginning of the episode, we were presented with a scene where Hideki Yasumoto visited two Russian scientists who were working for him. Yasumoto asked one of the scientists to tell the other to remove his mask, exposing himself to a toxic extraterrestrial substance. The scientist’s reaction to Yasumoto’s request felt forced and awkward. There was a delay that almost felt like the actor had forgotten his line or was counting to three before saying his line. If one is asked to sacrifice his/her coworker, I would expect the person to have a great reaction- either anger/sadness or shock. And I would expect his/her reaction to be immediate. But this actor did not connect with his character. He delivered his line without acting the part. I felt that he was forcing his speech and movements in contrast to well-practiced actors whose actions flow naturally. During this scene, I felt like I was watching a scene from a high school play rather than a primetime tv show.
I thought the Russian scientist was a bad actor until the cop showed up. The cop who spoke with John when Ethan went missing was one of the most monotonous actors I have ever seen on television. When the cop responded to John’s comment about Ethan being a humanoid, I couldn’t tell if the cop was being serious or sarcastic. He said his line so straight faced that it confused me. It was revealed later on that he was serious- he knew what humanoids were and felt that searching for a lost robot was a waste of time and resources. The actor said all his lines without any emotion or expression. It was as if he was just reading off the script. This scene was actually painful to watch because the horrific acting took me way out of the story.
The only good acting in this episode came from Louis Gossett Jr., who played Molly Wood’s father, Quinn. Gossett brought his character to life. I found Quinn to be both believable and interesting. But to be perfectly honest, Gossettt might not have even acted that well. But in comparison to the other actors, any form of actual acting seemed like an Oscar-worthy performance to me.
After watching this episode, I really questioned the director’s and producer’s decisions. Why would they air scenes with such bad acting? And why did they cast such bad actors? How can they be satisfied with their product?