Saturday, March 18, 2023

Review of "Extrapolations" (2023)

Scott Z. Burns's anthology series Extrapolations premiered on Apple TV+ Friday night with its first three (of eight) episodes. The limited series depicts the potential effects of climate change over the next 15-25 years. I'll say up front that this post is not really going to be a full-on review of the production, as there are several more episodes to come in the weeks ahead, and it seems likely that Meryl's participation was encapsulated in episode two. 

For any of us wondering how large her part would be, the suspicions of it being minor seem to have come to fruition with the show's premiere. Not a huge deal, as the show's theme and interconnected plot are sort of meant to be the stars here. Meryl plays Eve Shearer, the mother of Sienna Miller's character, Rebecca Shearer. Rebecca is a scientist studying the last-known humpback whale. They've developed technology that has decoded the humpback's underwater communication, and Rebecca has assigned her late mother's voice as the one to translate the humpback's sounds. This is what everyone online is talking about when they say Meryl is "playing a whale." Meryl is not playing a whale. Her voice is a computerized representation of a whale's thoughts.

Eve has passed away from liver cancer by the time the bulk of Rebecca's story is played out. We get to see a couple of brief scenes from Meryl. One where she's recording herself reading The Little Prince for her grandson, the other when she's close to the end and trying to explain to her daughter her decision to be less than one hundred percent honest about the severity of her condition. Shout out to eva on Twitter for having the only clip I can find on the internet of the scene:

It's hard not to think about Kate Gulden from One True Thing talking to her daughter Ellen (Renee Zellwegger) as she faces her own mortality. Nothing particularly groundbreaking or super new from Meryl here. But it's beautifully acted and very touching nonetheless.  

I have to say I can sort of understand the lackluster response from critics thus far. While I'm glad the story is being told, and the acting and cast are both fantastic, the show is a bit of a slog. There's a disjointedness about it, even for a show that's intended to showcase a large number of character in the throes of their own individual experiences of how climate change has negatively affected them and their loved ones. It's by no means awful, but if it weren't for Mery's participation and the urgent light it attempts to shine on the climate crisis, I'm not sure I'd want to watch much more of it. The production value looks really expensive, and I like the diverse cast as well as the international scope of the story. Sad thing is, it doesn't seem like much of a story versus a sobering look into what we may be facing in our own lifetimes if drastic action isn't taken on a very large scale. 

Final verdict for me is that it's an important story and production, but a bit too tedious and convoluted for me to love it. It's obvious to me that Meryl joined this project more for the message than for the role, much like I suspect many in the cast also have. And more power to them if they believe in the project. As mentioned, I'm glad the production is out there, and I'll certainly be watching every episode.  

1 comment:

  1. Reviews are bad in general. Meryl - please stop acting in shows like that with just a cameo appearance. Do a play, win your Tony and then seek directors like alfonso, haynes or field to act in their films