Extrapolations by Scott Z. Burns [7/10]

Such an ambitious project! The eight episodes of “Extrapolations” are literally points on the IPCC’s predictions of climate crisis woe over half a century from today: floods, species extinctions, overheating, wildfires, agricultural failure, etc., etc. Each episode is a standalone tale with its own plot and character arc, all linked by story continuity and character recurrences. A star-studded cast is one of the calling cards of the series, yet the episodes featuring Ed Norton, Meryl Streep, and Forest Whitaker are weighed down by dialed-in performances and sagging storylines. The series’ through line of evil capitalist Nicholas Bilton (played woodenly by Kit Harrington), heading up the Alpha corporation reaping a fortune from climate change, seems cartoonish at several points. But two features of Extrapolations save it from the bin and indeed make it rather memorable. Firstly, several standalone stories sizzle with wonderful acting: Tahar Rahim is superb as a futuristic “companion” with “summer heart” (bodily distress from too-high temperatures) and Adarsh Gourav plus Gaz Choudry are brilliant as smugglers in heat-wracked India. And secondly, even if the series can seem didactic, the fact is that its portrayals of the future are stark pictures IPCC can never give us, for which I am grateful.

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