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BYUtv’s Extinct Offers a Unique Lesson in Modern Television-Making

Within the last decade, the TV industry’s experienced its version of climate change.

This rocky evolution is best encapsulated by the phrase “peak TV.” Where the “Golden Age” offered the possibility of narrative and network risk and opportunity, “peak TV” presents an overcrowded, resource-exhausted field. One that makes everything, from the subject of a TV series to the reputation of its creators, influential in its ultimate success. When even TV’s giants are struggling to be remain relevant and financially profitable, a network trying to carve out a new space is a risky—and enlightening—endeavor.

BYUtv, based out of the Provo, Utah university’s state-of-the-art facility, is no exception. The Brigham Young University-backed station is responsible for reality series like the genealogy-focused Relative Race and the hidden-camera show Random Acts, but now it’s wading further into the scripted TV pool with its new series, Extinct.

Only the second scripted program to come out of the burgeoning network, Extinct is an hour-long, post-apocalyptic drama set 400 years in the future, following the extinction of the human race at the hands of genocidal aliens. Its actual set was built in, on top of and around the woods, fields and streams of the LDS Motion Picture Studio near the university. Other locations, such as Utah’s mountains and salt flats, also serve as a breathtaking backdrop.

It’s on this terrain that a group of humans known as “reborns”—those mysteriously reconstituted or regenerated after the extinction—attempt to rebuild. Unsure about why they were chosen, the group is determined to find out, on top of dealing with falling in love, demons from their past lives, re-establishing human society, and fighting off the dangerous parasitic alien race known as Skin Riders.

Aaron Johnston, the co-creator and writer behind Extinct, calls the series “a family-friendly, action/sci-fi adventure” that “makes you care about” the characters.

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