I don’t want to think about how much this failure of a show cost. I also don’t want to think about who is going to take the fall for green-lighting something called Extrapolations. Not that Apple TV+ can’t swing the big bucks, but it’s impossible to understand why they’d sink this kind of cash into such an aimless and ultimately weird series that targets nobody and appeals to probably even less. Despite getting Meryl Streep to voice a whale! Even after what felt like eight very long episodes of television, I’m still confused by the message here. Or even the point of the whole thing. Sure, climate change. But also corporate malfeasance? And tech. Lots of weird tech that you’d think would be more inventive in a show put out by Apple. Just another confounding item in a series full of them.
I’m trying to think of how to place this thing in the list of sci-fi-as-social-commentary media. I think — because it’s essentially an anthology — that this varies from episode to episode. At first it has some The Day After Tomorrow vibes. That’s not a compliment. And then it made me think of that Star Trek movie I saw in the theater when I was like twelve where they talked to a whale, I think? And then they downshifted into a bad imitation of Black Mirror. Which I actually enjoyed a little more, but still was still mostly bored stiff. And astonished at how bad Tobey Maguire’s acting is. And how it’s tough to have a titan of industry — and the antagonist in this whole thing — in a bizarrely boring Kit Harrington character, be like 5′ 4.” Not that short means weak. But I just don’t buy the guy as a Steve Jobs / Bezos / Musk type. Anyway, there are some iffy casting choices. And a muddled premise. And some odd misses with the CGI.
I’m not going to go through plot points, but each episode is a self-contained story during the rise of climate change. It starts in 2037 and, seven episodes later, ends in 2070. Over those years, and with each subsequent story, the global temperature has risen and we see the effects in whatever country or on whatever person or people are involved in that episode. There are several characters who pop up in multiple episodes on occasion, with Harrington being the one person whose company, Alpha (an Amazon or Google-like global technology provider of everything), and who — through creepy plastic surgery and presumably some other life-sustaining tech — manages to stay in the game over the span of the thirty-three years without missing a step. I will say that this is indeed a global show. The U.S., Europe, India and probably a couple other places all feature prominently. Which feels more like Apple flexing its muscles than anything else.
So, when you boil the show down, I think we’re meant to walk away with the idea that it’s not the corporations that are causing global warming per se, but us humans who are not willing to give up stuff to save ourselves. And that companies like Alpha are just filling demand. And if that wrecks the Earth, so be it. They aren’t responsible, we are. We don’t want to move on from our fossil-burning cars. We want to mine for bitcoins or whatever. We like being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So I guess we’ll call consumerism the big-bad in this scenario. And as long as consumers be consumin’, companies will be selling that good stuff. We use tech to combat the tech that caused the issues to begin with. We use political means to save religion, which is supposed to save us from ourselves. We essentially live in contradiction. Which the series tries to show us over and over again, but does in a way that is too obvious. Too on the nose. It’s not preachy, so much as it’s unsurprising and tedious. And almost earnest in a hokey way. Not to mention that some of the “future” stuff just comes off as pretty ridiculous. Not all of it, but certain aspects do feel a bit like a low-rent Black Mirror rip, and other things are just culled from various Philip K. Dick or William Gibson novels. But lame. Ultimate, it’s all just kind of a drag. The characters are not terribly compelling, and the situations and dialogue feel more like a somewhat stilted stage play than they do a prestige television series. It’s kind of hard to put my finger on, but the whole endeavor has an artifice to it that is off-putting and disharmonious with what I think audiences today are looking for in their big-time entertainments.