10 Things We Learned From CBS' Summer Press Day About Extant, Under the Dome and More

By Fred Topel in Daily Lists, Movies, TV
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 6:00 am

5. Scott Bakula Still Wants to Do Quantum Leap

Scott Bakula is headlining the latest NCIS spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans. It's good Captain Archer is still getting work, but if you're really a Scott Bakula fan, it's not from Star Trek: Enterprise. It's from Quantum Leap, in which he played time traveling scientist Sam Beckett who leapt into a new era and character every week to fix the past, guided by a holographic Dean Stockwell.

Any fan of the beloved series always wants to know if there's a chance to bring it back. If there isn't, it won't be because Bakula is holding out. He wants to do more Quantum Leap, even though it went off the air in 1993. "Hope never dies," Bakula laughed.

A few years ago, there was some scary news that Syfy wanted to reboot Quantum Leap with an all new cast. That's not what anybody wants! We want Sam Beckett. Sadly, Bakula expects the Syfy plan is the way any new iteration would go. "I would still assume that if it ever happens that's how it's going to happen, because that's what Hollywood does."

It's a little bit different now though. Arrested Development proved you can get the cast back together years later and keep making new shows, albeit in a slightly different format. So let's keep reminding producers that we still want to see Bakula and Stockwell jump through time, and now there's been 21 years of new history since 1993. "Dean and I could sit around a coffee table and just chat for a couple hours and you can run it. I have no idea. They're missing their chance. Dean and I aren't getting any younger, let's put it that way."

4. Beauty and the Beast Goes to Jail

Beauty and the Beast is on The CW, so how did I get news at CBS? Well, read my entry about Sleepy Hollow. Actually, CBS is a joint partner in The CW with Warner Bros., so they invited CW talent to the summer event too. Austin Basis plays the beastly Vincent's scientist buddy J.T. With six episodes left in the show's second season, Basis gave us the scoop on what's new with Catherine (Kristen Kreuk) and Vincent (Jay Ryan), which is a lot more intrigue than kissy kissy.

"The trailers and spoilers all show Vincent in jail," Basis said. "At the end of episode 16 or season two, he gets taken off to jail and leaves Cat. Then we pick up right where that left off. It becomes a challenge for the Scooby gang, everyone else, to figure out how to get him out of jail or vindicate him and maybe find out who put him in jail. From there, it's about making sure he's not going to be followed by the law anymore and finding a way to make that possible. There is obviously encounters with a lot of different people that could put that in jeopardy."

Locked in prison, Vincent won't have access to J.T.'s serum. "He could beast out in jail, if that's what you're asking," Basis confirmed. "That's part of the urgency and problem of him being in jail. Someone could start a fight with him and die."

The mythology of Beauty and the Beast is getting deeper too, and if that comes along with a love interest for J.T., so be it. "There's also the solidifying of Vincent and Catherine being a couple and being together 'til the end and making a life for themselves through all this turmoil. Similarly with J.T. and Tess, finding a new relationship and figuring out what their relationship is. Also bringing back some of the mythology that's been uncovered this season and seeing what the pasts of beasts have been and how Katherine connects to that lineage."

3. For Once, Michael Emerson Doesn't Know Everything

After his playing Lost's keeper of island secrets Benjamin Linus, and now surveillance machine creator Harold Finch on Person of Interest, we've come to trust Michael Emerson as the guy with all the answers. Maybe he's sometimes cryptic about the answers, but he knows even if he's not telling us. At least that was true until the season finale of Person of Interest. Finch has lost the machine in such a shakeup, even he doesn't know where season four will begin.

"I certainly think the ending of the season steers us in a whole new direction," Emerson told me. "We can't even use any of the sets we've used in previous seasons so God knows where we'll be come September."

Right now, only the character of Root (Amy Acker) has any contact with the machine. Emerson doesn't even know if Finch and Reese (Jim Caviezel) will still be able to help persons of interest anymore.

"Will they? I don't know. That's one of the unknowns. I'll be curious to see if we continue to do a POI every week or if we're on a completely new format. I don't know where we go now. Maybe Finch starts not to have answers. He's suffered some defeats here. I don't know if his mission can be maintained."

Or, maybe Emerson is just messing with us. Given his character history, he may just be masterminding us this whole time.

2. Cyber Hackers Getting Fast and Furious

The new fall show Scorpion is about a thinktank of geniuses who work for Homeland Security, based on the real life Walter O'Brien. O'Brien is CEO of Scorpion Computer Services, and he came up with the algorithm that caught the Boston bombers by analyzing video footage. Elyes Gabel plays Walter O'Brien. Or maybe that's what O'Brien wants us to think...

American Idol Katharine McPhee has the kick ass action role in Scorpion, the pilot of which was directed by Justin Lin. As long as she doesn't do the soundtrack, we're in.

"When we were shooting the pilot, Elyes and I were shooting the car scene and our veteran director, Justin Lin, does all the Fast & Furious movies," McPhee told me. "I was not cocky at all, I will say wholeheartedly, because I just wanted to make it very clear that I had no idea what I was doing and that I was going to listen to everything he had to tell me, because it's very different. When you're supposed to be going 200 miles an hour and you're not moving at all and all you have is wind blowing in your hair and you're like, 'Wait, I'm sorry, you want me to scream at the top of my lungs? That feels really uncomfortable.' So it was a really lovely experience for me because I got to do something out of my comfort zone, something that I've never done before. I wasn't breaking into song or dance. I was being stretched as an actor."

Maybe McPhee will get to learn how to hack too. "It's incredibly technological," McPhee said. "My character isn't so much in the beginning, but it'll be interesting to see how she immerses in their world and see how she becomes part of their world. Mostly because she wants to be part of their world because they are the connection to her son that she wants so badly to have."

1. Extant Looks Awesome

Extant actually means the opposite of extinct. Did you know that? I didn't, so Extant is basically a show about existing. Molly Woods (Berry) returns from a 13 month mission in space pregnant. While she was alone on the space station, there is some missing security camera footage, and she flashes back to a mysterious figure appearing outside the airlock door. So, the first question is: what is this baby?

"That is an element to our show, it won't be the entire element of our show, but there is a period that we're going to go through where it will have elements of Rosemary's Baby because she's pregnant with something that is unknown," Berry said. "It's for us to decide throughout the course of the series what this entity is, what it wants, will it stay here, is it really her baby, is it just an offspring? What is it really? These are the questions the series is asking."

For the scenes on the space station, Berry totally gets her Gravity on, floating weightlessly in zero gravity. Actually, she was on wires, and she's used to that from four X-Men movies.

"I think as you can see from our trailer, we got pretty doggone close to doing something that is on par with any film you'll ever see," Berry bragged. "I like to say Gravity was our benchmark and I think we tried very hard to hit that mark the best that we could. I think our space looks as good. I think our spaceship looks as good. There was no expense spared. Luckily because I had been Storm, I was used to flying. So I had a lot of wirework and a lot of experience that way. So putting on that harness and those wires just seemed like something I was used to doing. I did actually take a real zero-G flight so I have really experienced being weightless and understanding what that is so that sense memory certainly helps me, when I have those wires on, be able to assimilate me in a weightless environment."

But Extant is not just about secret space babies. Back home, Molly's husband (Goran Visjnic) has designed an A.I. toddler, Ethan, so the show asks all the pertinent questions associated with that too.

"I don't think there's one thing that makes us human and I think that's what this series is all about," Berry said. "We're discovering that as we're portraying these characters and telling this story. What does make us human? That's a good question and one of the questions that the series poses is can this robot become human? Can we teach it to become human? Can we teach it to love? Can we give it free will? Can it act as human being act over time? And can we as humans love that that is not real, that is fabricated? These are all the questions that we're asking. I struggle with if a robot would evoke the same kinds of feelings from me. Would I really be able to love a machine? Those are the questions I ask myself and Molly is asking herself in the show."

So, tune in this summer to Rosemary's Baby A.I. produced by Steven Spielberg himself!

Also By Fred Topel

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