TV Networks Are Rabid Over Sci-Fi Pitch From Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV

By Nick Venable | Published

a.i. With J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman’s robot buddy cop drama Almost Human and the fourth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead coming out in the next few months, not to mention the plethora of premieres the CW network has going for it, it looks like one of the strongest fall TV seasons for science fiction in recent years. And when you take into account Helix and some of the other mid-season shows that are currently in development, the sky is the limit. The same goes for how much networks are willing to spend on a spec script for a sci-fi drama called Extant, which reportedly has a slew of TV execs in a tizzy.

Penned by first-time writer Mickey Fisher, a bidding war erupted within the talent agency community once the script hit the market. Deadline’s source claims that, “Everybody wants it. And I mean everybody.” It’s the rare project that not only has basic cable networks seeking it out, but it’s also gotten major attention from regular cable and premium channels. So what is it about this project that has everybody worked up?

One reason is the actual pilot itself, of course, which is the basis for a one-hour drama about a married couple named John and Molly Watts who have an android son named Ethan. (Thank goodness Haley Joel Osment is too old to take on this role.) Molly is a space traveler somehow, and she is currently pregnant with a child that is part human and part alien. It isn’t clear about where the aliens come in, but half of the script takes place on Earth and half is set inside of a space station. There’s a lot of room for visual spectacle here. Sci-fi and family drama don’t usually get mix together outside of conversations reminiscing about E.T.. I mean, there’s The Neighbors, but that show isn’t a shining example of much. Extant has been referred to as “A.I. as a TV series,” and will apparently deepen the family dynamics in later episodes. This isn’t the most original plotline at its most basic form outside of the space station, so there has to be some other reason people are excited, right?

None other than Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV is developing and packaging the series. While Spielberg hasn’t yet given a sign as to whether he would personally serve as a producer, Amblin has had a strong year with new shows, as Under the Dome is getting big ratings and FX’s The Americans won critical acclaim. Greg Walker, co-creator of Vegas, as well as a former writer, story editor and producer on other shows, including The X-Files, Harsh Realm and Smallville, will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

Just two months ago, the pilot was actually the subject of conversation not between TV networks, but film studios thinking Extant could work as a feature. Even though it’s a short script, it reportedly contains multiple plotlines and a five-act structure that would be difficult to pull off outside of television. Warner is supposedly working with Fisher on getting a different pitch out of him.

Bidding on Extant is set to continue throughout the weekend. Let us know in the comments where you think the show should end up, since it’s obviously going somewhere. (Space.)